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review - twau

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: the walls around us; by nova ren sumaThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Books on March 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Law & Crime, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon // The Book Depository

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.”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 the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries . . . What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one? In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.


if i had to describe this book with one word, it would be ‘HAUNTING.’

“We went wild that hot night.”
– pg. 1, first sentence

the walls around us was like nothing i’ve ever read before. it’s very mysterious, and half the time, you don’t even know what’s going on. the story starts with the lock of a juvenile detention center being broken. the forty-one girls inside become crazed and i’m instantly reeled in, curious to know what happens next. we specifically follow three girls, one alive, one dead, and one connecting them together. (however, even after finishing the book, i’m still unsure who is dead/alive.) throughout the entire book, you’re uncovering the truth behind their crimes, mainly told in flashbacks. i was often confused while reading because i wasn’t sure if the people/things they were seeing were ghosts, hallucinations, flashbacks, or real. everything was very murky and i couldn’t exactly understand what was going on.

i think one of the main reasons i was confused was due to the author’s writing style. the words and sentences were very beautiful and poetic, but hard to interpret. the sentences were symbolic to the point i couldn’t tell if she literally meant it, or it was simply a metaphor. 90% of the time, i loved her writing style. there were multiple times i’d physically pause and stop reading to admire her compilation of letters and words. the other 10% of the time, i was confused. in short, it was beautifully written and simply a masterpiece.

“The seething hatred coming off him is so strong. I half expect the windows to fog over, frogs to rain down, a crack to open up in the cul-de-sac and take me in. And maybe after that a tornado.”

– pg. 101

the story is told from two povs. in some parts, it’s the same actions told from a different perspective. because of this, it got kinda slow in the middle and was this close to dnf-ing the novel. at first, you’re curious to know how the two girls are connected. when the stories merge and collide, i found it interesting, but anti-climactic.

i especially loved that two of the main characters were ballet dancers, and the other was a book lover. (ME!!!) i’m always excited to see ballet/dancing in novels because it’s such an important aspect in my life. i’ve read many other books that incorporate ballet into it, but it was clear the author had no idea what he/she was talking about. none of the terminology made sense, and it was obvious that it was written by someone who’d had no experience in the art. however, to my delight, this novel was not the case! nova ren suma portrayed ballet extremely accurately – the way we feel on stage, how we act during class, the commitment to it, everything. it made me enjoy reading it 100x more. i also found ballet very symbolic in this novel. most people find ballet to be clean, pure, and graceful, but it was ironic and clever to see the truth and horror behind it. (similar to black swan, but still different. this story was focused more on the actual horror of things and less on the dancing.)

“I wonder how I look, from out there in the audience, to those strangers in the seats who know me only this way, who have no idea.”

– pg. 17

although i enjoyed the characters characteristics, i couldn’t understand their morals or reasoning. i couldn’t understand them period. i was never sure if she was lying or in denial or anything, and that was for all the characters. because of that, there were parts that felt two-dimensional and flat. there was one main character, orianna (ori), who we don’t hear from. i was really hoping to see things from her perspective because i couldn’t decipher her at all. the other two would constantly speak about how good and innocent she was, but was she really good? or was it all an act? i wanted to see some negative, some human part of her. there was no way she could’ve been the “perfect person,” but apparently she was.

“No one was there to stop me – no one but myself.”

– pg. 46

overall, i enjoyed this book, but i wouldn’t reread it. it’s different from what i normally read, so i wasn’t completely comfortable. the characters weren’t too bad, but i couldn’t understand them and it frustrated me. although the writing was gorgeous, there were often times i was left confused. even now, after finishing the novel, i don’t know what to make of the plot or the ending. i suppose it’s meant to be mysterious that way.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.4

– alexandra

Alexandra Ling

alexandra is a twenty-year-old content creator and avid reader. when she's not on the internet or hiding behind pages, you can find her training to be a professional ballet dancer or practicing yoga. she currently resides in los angeles, california.