I received this book for free from Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Books on March 24th 2015
Source: Algonquin Books
“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.
We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
Review: After reading and enjoying Suma’s Imaginary Girls and hearing a lot of praise from blogger/librarian Stackedbooks I was desperate to read The Walls Around Us which has been described as Orange is the new Black Swan. Like Imaginary Girls, The Walls Around Us feels both contemporary and supernatural, almost magical realist in a sense.
The Walls Around Us is beautifully written and Nova Ren Suma is a clear talent in the YA world. While at times the novel feels a little confusing – there are two main narrators who reveal the story of a third character, Orianna, and some time jumps all running simultaneously, it is a compelling read and one well worth pursuing. I read this novel in one sitting until about 2 am.
Centred around a juvenile detention facility, Violet, Orianna and Amber narrate the story. Each character was distinct and compelling in their own way, even if not entirely likeable (Violet and this did make her fall a little flat for me a times) Nova Ren Suma looks at teenagers and girls honestly without rose-tinted glasses and her novel explores big themes like innocence and guilt with a slightly supernatural twist. You may notice I have not gone into the plot or characters in too much detail and that is deliberate. This is a book worth going into with as little knowledge as possible.
The ending definitely took me by surprise and was unexpected but the more I think about it definitely worked.
Darkly beautiful, The Walls Around Us is a YA novel well worth checking out. Nova Ren Suma is particularly known in the UK yet and I hope this changes as she is a fast becoming a YA voice to pay attention to.