Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

18044277The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published: March 24th 2015 by Algoquin Young Readers
Pages: 336

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.
“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.”
Thank you Alogoquin Young Readers for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

Books like The Walls Around Us are in my opinion too rare in the young-adult genre. This is a book that takes patience and full concentration to read, but it was worth it in the end. The plot slowly builds up and connects the three storylines of three different teenage girls together, and with each page you read you're more and more intrigued in what's yet to come. Throughout the book you never know the whole story from each girl, and that was my ultimate motivation to finish as quickly as possible. I do hereby warn you by saying this not for everyone. I do highly suggest to give it a chance if the premise of Black Swan meets Orange is the New Black seems appealing to you.

The author definitely managed to put the story nicely together, but also made all of the girls' situations come across very believably. I can't imagine how hard it must be to start writing about the lives of forty-two girls in Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center, also known as a prison for teen girls. This prison is the main setting for the book, and immediately creates a haunting feeling when I started reading it. Every girl in there has a story to tell and secrets they would never want anyone to know. That is where the author did a terrific job in make you feel how the girls there felt. They are left there to rot and always have to keep an eye on everyone, while they still are a family in some kind of twisted way. They only have each other, but no one knows anyone completely. Besides the prison life I simply adored the input of ballet in this novel. Something so fine and graceful combined with blood and horror, two complete opposites, went together so well.

Everything I had learned through read the book breaks down into a thousand shattered pieces. I felt my eyes widen and the feeling of some kind of shock went through me as I felt my mind being blown. I should have seen it coming because it was obvious all along. I just still can't imagine what kind of things teenage girls are capable of doing and how well they can cover up their lies and their deceit, and how messed up they can be.

I always barely say anything about the writing style of an author. When I do speak of it is always because the writing stands out, which was without doubt the case with this book. Suma's way with words can create emotions on their own. It never fails to have a lyrical and beautiful touch to it, and it didn't prevent me from understanding what is told, as it is often with authors who try to make their writing special but don't succeed.

At first the three main characters in The Walls Around Us don't seem to have anything in common, nor would they connect in any way. They all have such unique and different voices, it was never hard for me to follow the story in either Amber's or Violet's point of view. It was clear to see there was a lot of time spent on creating three personalities a reader would love, no matter their backgrounds, words or actions. However at some point in the story, the connections between the three girls slowly become visible, still with a lot untold. I loved to read from all three's perspective, just because they all had such a different story to tell, but no story was less valuable or less interesting than another.

Just because this type of book is so rare, it was very hard for me to rate since I barely have anything to compare it with. It brought along feels, I can tel you that. It mainly left me impressed but also scared and sad. I don't know why but I'm not capable of adoring a book so dark. That is the reason, and the only reason, why I'm going for a solid four stars. Go and read this book with as little knowledge of it as possible. In the long run it will all be worth it.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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