25 March 2015

Review #171: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.”

----J.R. Ward, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels

Nova Ren Suma, an American YA author, pens her latest paranormal thriller called, The Walls Around Us that spins around the lives of two girls one dead and one alive whose voices channel the story of the primary character who was convicted of murder.


“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.

Before receiving an ARC of this book, honestly, I never heard of Nova Ren Suma, so I can't compare this YA author based on her previous books! And frankly, after reading The Walls Around Us, I believe this YA author has a lot of potential in her writing style, but I won't conclude by saying she is a brilliant writer, she just has the talent to spin and twist her words and has a way with devising complicated plots, and maybe that's the trap for the readers to fall in love with her irrevocably.

The synopsis of the book, I guess, reveals a bit too much about the storyline, it is just one story about one normal girl with bigger dreams to be a famous ballerina but the story is concocted through two stories so that we can finally contemplate with the main storyline/character. The story begins with Amber convicted of murdering her stepfather at the age of thirteen and is spending her sentence at the Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center. And this is where we meet our main character, Ori, who was convicted of murdering two ballerinas and has been sent to Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center to serve her sentence. Trust me when I say this, Amber and Ori's part was the only thing to fall for in the whole book. This is where the author steals away my heart with their friendship, Ori's back story, the truth, love and passion. Violent is the second character, with whom, we once again get to see and meet Ori. Violet is a ballet dancer without any perfection but Violet feels guilty for her friend Ori's death. Violet has everything to hate her, she is the definition of the "bitch"- filthy rich, pompous and drama queen. But Vee opens up with her past about Ori's conviction. And thus after the two stories, we can see the end of this puzzling mystery about Ori and her conviction of a bloody crime.

Sounds complicated isn't it?! But it's a sad and disturbing story, where the plot twists like anything leaving us panting and begging for the complicity to stop. As I said, the writing is okay nothing too glamorous or brilliant, instead the author diverted all her attention toward her plot-building. The story evolves from how friendship can happen between two lonely girls in a detention center, and on the other hand, how the strongest of friendships could be shattered by lies, back-stabbing and jealously. The author made sure that the mystery is tightly wrapped under layers of twists and turns and no matter how hard the readers try, they wouldn't be able to unravel it, moreover, she chooses to peel the mystery layer-by-layer and by that time, our minds would be completely messed up with knots and hidden agendas.

Through the narrative, we get to see each and every character from their depth. Unfortunately, that is what marred the book. The narration is undoubtedly extremely catchy, but the way the author have put it makes it difficult for us too see past the million layers of each character. The characters are believable but not profound enough to connect with them emotionally.

The author lets us see the darkest side of a human nature and how sometimes our minds are dominated by jealously, inferiority complex and rage and how sometimes when there's no hope to survive the loneliness, even a flicker of light is enough to bring us back the hope onto our hearts. In fact, the author focuses her storyline on the fact that how teenage girls mind are the most vulnerable thing in the world, manipulation, impulsiveness, jealousy, hatred are some of the few qualities that posses them like a ghost and that makes it difficult to see past through their hazy judgements. The aspect of the book is really nice- freedom and jealously projected side by side. The book is not highly engrossing yet it is interesting enough to keep on going till it's very end.

Verdict: A nice book for YA fans!

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publicist for giving me an opportunity to read and review the book. 

Author Info:
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.
Visit her here 

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  1. I really liked this one. I agree on the mystery being peeled back layer by layer. I found it to be solvable but not predictable which is my favorite kind of mystery and I think most YA mysteries don't get that right. Great review.
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

  2. First of all, I loved the cover! And sounds really interesting too! I'm a bit sceptical though about the writting style. Thank you for recommending it!

    Aeriko @ http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.com

  3. Thanks a lot for stopping by, I'm glad you guys liked my review :-)


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