Saturday, March 14, 2015 10:05

Review 219. Nova Ren Suma – The walls around us.

18044277Title: The walls around us.
Author: Nova Ren Suma.
Pages: 336.
Published: March 24th 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: Netgalley & Publisher.
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.

 (Quote from the blurb)
“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 moment I started this book, I knew I was up to something good. This was one of the best beginnings I’ve read in a long time. The writing-style is gorgeous and I was immediately curious about the mystery around the juvenile detention center and Orianna. This is a story about guilt, lies and dealing with a situation that’s not in your control. Through the eyes of two girls, Amber and Violet, we get to know the story behind Ori’s conviction.

The first chapter starts with Amber’s point of view. She is locked away in the detention center after an accusation everybody believes is false. Ori becomes her new roommate and the two create a special bond. There is something about Ori and everything she does shows that she doesn’t belong there. She is one of them, but at the same time she isn’t.

I liked Amber and it was fascinating to see the center through her eyes. It sounds like a horrible place, filled with girls with different sentences according to their crime. Amber did feel a little distant, but that seemed to match with the overall feeling in the book. I liked Ori the best. She seemed like a very sweet girl who wants to see the best of everything. Her mystery kept making me turn the pages to find out what happened.

Then we switch and get to know Violet, a ballerina dancer whose life is filled with lies and guilt for the death of her friend Ori. Violet is happy she can escape from her little town to go to college, but she isn’t ready until she visits the place where the juvenile center was. Slowly we unravel what happened and how Ori ended up locked away while she had such a promising future. Violet isn’t written as a likable character, but Nova did a great job with portraying her and making her interesting enough to follow.

The paranormal approach was a nice touch to the story, but also felt underdeveloped. This made the ending a bit underwhelming, but at the same time I like how it all wraps together. The truth that comes out and the way everything is solved is satisfying. This is my first book from this author and definitely not my last one.
author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

40 comments:

  1. I'm about to read this book! I had picked it up last month but then kind of got distracted since I didn't know it was a ghost story and I wasn't really understanding what was going on. But now I want to pick it up again!!

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    1. Oh yes, I think it definitely helps if you know what you're getting into!

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  2. This sounds great! I like it when you as a reader slowly find out what has happened up to the present

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    1. It was very nicely done here. The story unravels in an interesting way.

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  3. I plan to read this book myself pretty soon, and your review is overall, pretty positive, so I can't wait to try it. Thanks Mel, glad you liked it! :)

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  4. This book sounds intriguing. I've always wanted to read a book by Nova Ren Suma,and The walls around us looks like a great choice.
    Great review Mel!

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  5. It’s one of my most anticipated books this year and so happy that you seemed to like what you’ve just read. So want to immerse myself in some gorgeous writing! Can’t wait for this!

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    1. I can't wait to see if it lives up to your expectations! I hope it does :)

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  6. Ahhh sounds great, Mel! I've been meaning to start Nova Ren Suma books particularly because the mystery sounds so riveting.

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  7. I've had an eye out for this author for a while now. I've heard great things about her writing and unique stories. I haven't read any yet, but I'm very intrigued by this book. I also like the idea it has some ballerina characters and that it is a mystery.

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  8. The summary sounds amazing. I don't think I've ever heard anything like it. I want to read this ASAP! I've heard amazing things about her and we share a name so YAY!

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  9. Yay :D Awesome review Mel. <3 I am so glad that you enjoyed this book a lot. I did too :D So good! And mysterious. And creepy. And sweet. And heartbreaking. And yeah. I really loved it, lol. I also really liked the ending :) Ori is amazing. <3 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie :)

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  10. I have been on the fence about getting this one for a while now. It's always been "to preorder, to not"? You're really swaying me here, Mel! I'm just not very convinced about the paranormal aspect. I'd rather not have it there, just because I'm not the biggest fan of magic realism. But hey, you can't have everything right? Lovely review, Mel! x

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    1. Difficult.. Perhaps wait and borrow it from the library?

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  11. I reeeally want to read this. LIKE AN EXTRAORDINARILY LARGE AMOUNT. And I love weird paranormal flairs, so I should be fine with that, but oh oh, I'm so glad you like it! It makes me excited for it. XD

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  12. That's fantastic that you really enjoyed this book Mel! Amber's point of view sounds really interesting, at a detention center and everything. It kind of sounds jarring how it switches to the other girl though, but I'm glad it all weaves together in the end. Lovely review!

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  13. I've had my eye on this book for sometime now Mel, but still haven't bought myself a copy, I do like books which have you hooked from the beginning, it's been such a long time since I read a book which did that, so I know I need to get a copy of this soon! Fab review! :)

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  14. Great review, this is one that I cannot wait to dive into! Hopefully I have some time in the upcoming months to sit down with it.

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  15. I'd never even heard of this one! What the what??? I love how it hooked you right from the start and you just KNEW you were in for something good. The mystery sounds like it would totally just draw you in and keep your reading throughout! Both the characters sound equally compelling to me...though it's a shame the paranormal aspect was a bit underdeveloped. Gorgeous review as usual Mel, I'll be adding this one to the TBR shelf :D xx

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    1. It's great when the beginning immediately sucks you in :D

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  16. Interesting review, Mel! I've read other reviews for this one and the majority of them have said that this book can be quite a mindfuck and confusing. Were there any moments that you felt it was all over the place? I'm interested to read this, but I fear I would get lost somewhere. I am happy to know that the writing is gorgeous, though! That seems t be that one thing everyone agrees with.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning. You have NO idea what is going on, but it's a good mind-fuck. It makes you want to read on and on until you know what happened.

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  17. This one seems like my kind of dark read. I'm really curious about the juvenile detention center. But I'm worried that I won't love the paranormal aspect of it, which is actually the part I'm looking forward to most. :( Anyway, lovely review!

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  18. Hmm I had kind of written this one off (not sure why as I can't recall having read a review for It) but now i think I need to reevaluate that decision! It sucks that the ending is a little underwhelming but the rest sounds promising enough to make up for it!

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  19. That's wonderful, Mel! I love suspense and ghostly, lyrical tales, and this seems like one of them! YAY. The dual perspective sounds epic and beautiful, I can't wait to check it out :)

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  20. I LOVED this book! It was so creepy and disturbing and the ending was confusing as hell. Ha. But I still loved it.

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  21. I completely agree with everything you've said here Mel. This is such a strange, yet intricate and beautifully written, book and somehow Ren Suma manages to pull it off wonderfully. I do think the ending could have used a bit of clarification and the paranormal elements could be brushed up a bit, but besides that this was practically flawless. The way Suma manages to get into such an ethical debate about innocence and guilt was so interesting to read. Thanks for sharing, and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

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    1. I can't wait to read more from this author. Her writing-style was fantastic.

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  22. I haven't read a book by this author, but have heard great things about her work. This one sounds really interesting, so I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! The paranormal aspect is most intriguing to me, so I'm a bit disappointed that it isn't explored adequately, but I would like to read this someday!

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  23. This sounds very interesting! I haven't read a single book from this author but this one's been getting a lot of hype so I'm super excited about it!

    @MissReadiculous

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  24. Ohhh the blurb sounds so mysterious. I really think I'd enjoy this book. I'm so glad you liked it despite its flaws. I've never read something from this author, so I definitely can't wait. Great review <3

    @Boricuan Bookworms.

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  25. Is there a reason why you didn't give this one a rating Mel? o:
    But yay, glad you liked it! I was iffy about this one - the cover is gorgeous, but also tells me that it wouldn't be my kind of book. After reading your review though, I might give it a chance! Books with distant voices intrigue me. (:

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    1. OOPS. The reason is that I completely forgot about it :D *edit*

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  26. I've heard mainly good things about this book, so I'm excited to check it out soon xD I love the books you review on your blog, I honestly really got into fantasy because of your blog, otherwise I barely even read fairytale retellings before. Great review <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. Awh, that is sweet of you <3 I love to introduce people to new books!

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  27. YES: "The moment I started this book, I knew I was up to something good. This was one of the best beginnings I’ve read in a long time"

    I want Nova Ren Suma to teach me how to write such an awesome beginning :P.

    "Amber did feel a little distant, but that seemed to match with the overall feeling in the book." -- Agreed, and I think that's because she was going for a more literary style. But isn't it amazing that we really like the characters even though we're put at a far away distance from them?

    "Violet isn’t written as a likable character, but Nova did a great job with portraying her and making her interesting enough to follow." -- Agreed. I think that part of that was that she actually had a genuine back story. The bullying... but then that doesn't justify her actions. Nor does her continual lying about Ori and lording over Ori with all her privilege. (But again, genuine internal struggle. SO cool). I've seen your thoughts on the paranormal aspects being underdeveloped in a lot of other reviews. I didn't mind it so much since the whole book seemed particularly twisty and magical realism like but ah yes, so glad that you enjoyed this and will be reading more from NRS :).

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  28. Yes yes I loved the writing, and it did have a very strong beginning. Sadly I felt that everything felt apart in the end :( I just didn't understand what was going on, or HOW everything was happening! But nevertheless it was still a good novel! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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