Review: The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma

I am all for unsettling books. The ones where you don’t know exactly what’s happening, or where you’re going. The ones where you’re trying to figure out exactly what kind of book this is as you read, and end up baffled at the end because of all the revelations โ€“ or just still very unsettled and thinking about this for a long, long while after closing the last page. The Walls Around Us definitely falls into this category, and if you love these kind of books, then I can only advise you to try out this one.

A CAPTIVATING, MYSTERIOUS STORYTELLING

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โ€œHome is where the heart is, and where the hell is, and where the hate is, and where the hopelessness is. Which made Aurora Hills pretty much like home.โ€

Told from a dual point of view, we are following Amber, locked up in the Aurora Hills detention center for a crime she may or may not have committed. We are also following Violet’s life, eighteen-years-old and promised to a fantastic career as a ballerina. Then there’s Orianna, a ghost, a presence in this whole story and what they say in the synopsis really is the key tying up this whole story together. Orianna isn’t a character telling the story, but she is here and it’s almost overwhelming.

โ€œSometimes it could be the smallest thing that could topple over a whole life, and, in the end, destroy it.โ€

Right from the beginning, we’re thrown into a world we do not know the rules of, caught up by a strange, captivating yet very mysterious writing style. As the story goes on, we get to know the rules and the characters more and more, but still, always, there is this hint of something, just like a hint of magic that the author manages to insert into her story with her writing. Except it’s kind of dark, somber, unsettling, like a dark cloud hanging above our heads every time, and you have no idea when the cloud is going to burst and drown you in its rain, or hit you with thunder, hurricane. All the time I was reading, I was engrossed in this crazy atmosphere, waiting for the revelations, waiting to realize what really was linking these two stories together. I was looking for clues, things in the writing, in what the characters said or did, to help me figure out really the key to this strange story. Who really, are these two girls, and what, really, this story is all about. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

COMPLEX CHARACTERS

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โ€œI knew that just because people on the outside were free and clean, it didnโ€™t mean they were the good ones.โ€

This story is told from a dual point of view; and both girls aren’t easy characters to fall in love with. They are flawed, and they made so many mistakes, some forgivable and some others not. I am all for flawed and realistic characters, so I do need to point out that, there, they both were GREAT. However, I had kind of a hard time growing fond of the two of them โ€“ especially Violet. I can’t really say a lot without spoiling the story, and believe me, if you’re considering reading this, you do not want to be spoiled. Let’s just say that I am thankful for all of the realistic characters, even if I didn’t fall in love with them like I could have with some other characters. But maybe it’s a story where you don’t and shouldn’t fall in love with them. If both Amber and Violet are telling us the story, this third person tying them together, Orianna, definitely is more than just a presence, a ghost passing by: we learn about her just as much as about the other characters, which made her real and three-dimensional. This immersion into the complexity of the characters’ feelings made this story even more engrossing and fascinating to read, because REALLY WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING HERE.

AN UNSETTLING STORY

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โ€œThis is called closure, and itโ€™s also called justice, and they are not always the same thing.โ€

I think both the strong suit and weakness of the story, is how unsettling this was to read, and this is probably why I won’t be giving this 5 stars. Intrigued, engrossed, curious, these feelings collided all at once while I was reading, and this was so weird I couldn’t stop thinking about it, at times. However, at times, this story left me with a feeling of uneasiness I didn’t enjoy, because I couldn’t quite put on why I was feeling this, until we are given the revelations of, really, what is happening, and the last pages are giving us some kind of solution and wrap things up as they should have been right from the start.

OVERALL

Told in a beautiful, but very unsettling way, The Walls Around Us is a book you should read without knowing too much about it before. It’s a story about guilt, innocence, it’s a mystery from beginning to end and a story that stays in your mind for a long, long time.

Final rating:ย  4 drops!

Did you read The Walls Around Us? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?

Do you enjoy reading unsettling books? Share your thoughts in comments!


Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us, ย Published by Algonquin Young Readers, March 24th 2015.

ย goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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 mysteriesโ€ฆ

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 deserveโ€”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.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. ๐Ÿ“š |๐ŸŒ | ๐Ÿ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

58 thoughts on “Review: The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma

    1. Well it is a bit spooky, I’m not going to lie, but it’s not plain horror either. It’s a bit unsettling to read because you’re always looking for clues and trying to figure out what really happened between the characters, which makes this an edge-of-your-seat kind of read. So if you’re up for this, I’d recommend it! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m glad that you enjoyed this book. I just read it as well, but didn’t have a very good experience with it. While the story was intriguing, I could never connect with the characters and so I was unable to enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. The ending was great though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This seems like an interesting book Marie. I haven’t read many unsettling books where you have no clue what’s happening (unless you count More Than This but from the sound of your review they’re not that similar) but I am definitely intrigued by the sounds of The Walls Around Us. I am definitely going to have to add this to my to-read list because I already want to know what happens to Violet, Amber and Orianna. I’m even willing to look past some of the really unsettling parts that will likely freak me out a little! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great review Marie. โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More Than This isn’t really similar to this book, except for the feeling of wanting to know really what is quite happening. What’s different is that here, you know where the characters are and a bit about who they are, but you can’t really see the big picture. I really hope you’ll get a chance to read it, it’s worth it and I think you might enjoy it! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well what I liked a lot about More Than This was the wanting to know what happened so maybe that will work for me with this book as well.
        Either way it sounds really interesting, I’m definitely already intrigued so I’ll have to check it out someday.
        That’s all right! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely think I’ll be picking this up! It sounds like it left quite an impression on you and I’m quite intrigued. It’s really interesting to see how unlikable characters doesn’t always mean the book is unlikable as well haha. This review is making me very curious! Lovely review, as always. โค

    (Also I did a double take when I saw your blog today!! Did I miss a memo or is it just me that your blog has a new theme?! LOL. No one is mentioning it either so I'm like super confused and am like… I'm not just imagining it right? ๐Ÿ˜› It looks AMAZING. โค โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you’ll read that one, Analee! It was such a…Weird book haha,but worth the read. It’s intriguing and I couldn’t stop reading it! Thank you!! ๐Ÿ™‚
      (Haha you are not dreaming at all, I just tweeted about it for now, the “announcement post” is coming later today haha ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!! โค <3)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, can I start by saying that I absolutely ADORE the new look of your blog. It’s beautifully clean and flows so well with the layout of your posts. Loving it.

    Also, I agree with most everything you said about this book. I read it last year, and I really enjoyed the creepy, unpredictability of it, but the unease I felt began to feel too much, especially because it was doing so much. There were paranormal elements in it, some magical realism, while the entire story would fall under contemporary… it began to feel a little disjointed and MUCH for me. But I still liked it enough to recommend. Really great review, Marie. โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh thank you so, so much Aimal, I am so happy you like it โค โค
      I understand your feelings about this – at times I felt like it was a lot as well, and I could feel uncomfortable at some passages. I think it's a book you have to be ready for, and go in knowing that it's going to be all kinds of unsettling ahah ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much โค

      Like

  5. I remember seeing this floating around a while back when I had my other blog. It definitely sounds interesting and books that keep you guessing until everything is revealed are my cup of tea. I love when a book can shock me. I’ve never read a book that unsettled me but that actually makes me more intrigued. I’ll have to move this up my TBR at some point. Great review as always, Marie!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH well I’m glad this managed to convince you to read it sooner rather than later ๐Ÿ™‚ I think that you have to read this knowing it’s going to be weird and unsettling – so you can be a bit prepared for the…weirdness of it all haha. Otherwise it’s such an intriguing story that keeps you on the edge until the very end ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. OH YOUR BLOG IS DIFFERENT AND SO PRETTY!! I LOVE THE NEW LOOK!!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    And I totally just bought this for like $2 on sale on amazon, eeek. I’m excited but also nervous because I tend to get lost in books that just toss you in the deep end. But hopefully I’ll be okay because I REALLY want to love this!! I’m glad you did like it and it was a thought-provoking and twisted story. YAS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh thank you SO much Cait, this means so much to me that you enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜
      I understand, and it’s an easy book to get lost in – but it’s twisted and intriguing and I couldn’t stop reading because, despite it being a bit weird, I NEEDED to know what happened and what would happen next. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is SO twisted haha. Hope you will love it! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  7. I think you would love Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson! Flawed but great MC, Mary. Its a thriller and mystery and so very humbling and real. Loved it. As someone started a new WIP featuring a character in juvie again after being out for a few months, I will have to put this on the list.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I completely agree! Usually magical realism isn’t really my thing, but this was absolutely amazing. The characters were definitely super complex and well-written and the atmosphere was so eerie. Glad you enjoyed it too! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! โค

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, this sounds amazing! I’ve had it on my shelf for ages now but haven’t gotten around to reading it. I do love a good book that makes me think about the story and characters even after I’m finished reading, so I’m going to have to pick this one up one of these days when I have some extra time. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah, I hauled this book sometime last year because the premise sounded so intriguing. I’m so happy to hear that The Walls Around Us worked for you, Marie. I only skimmed and read the bold points of your review because I wanted to (exactly as you suggested) to go into this book as blind as possible. But I’m really excited to witness the captivating writing for myself. And complex characters are my weakness. Wonderful review (from what I did read), as always. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Summer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, well I hope you’ll get around to reading this soon! I tried to keep the review vague to a maximum because yes it’s so much better to get into this blind, I think. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about that one ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Well, I finished it like three days ago, but forgot to let you know. ๐Ÿ˜›

    It was actually pretty good! The ending was slightly creepy, but just really bittersweet. And I was a tiny bit confused with all the time jumps and it seemed like the whole plot was just retelling their old experiences, but that’s what made it super cool! Like you said, I had this uneven feeling throughout the whole thing, but it was a great read, and I’m happy with how it ended. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHH I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it, thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts about it! Right?? It was a bit confusing with the going back and forth, but it made me feel like Sherlock a bit, trying to put all of the puzzle pieces together hahaha. So glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, no problem! Thank you for listening to my thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚
        Yeah, it was a little confusing. But at the same time, it built the tension and the mystery and the intrigue, which I think was the intention.

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