Nova Ren Suma – The Walls Around Us

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“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.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I’ve never read any of Nova Ren Suma’s (what a cool name!) other books, but after reading this one I’d definitely be up for one. Her writing is beautiful. I have no eloquent words to describe this, because it’s literally unarguable. Nova Ren Suma uses a lot of rhetoric (mostly repetition, i.e. anaphora, epanalepsis, etc) to convey the mood of the story and add amazing depth. Reading it just sucks you in, whether you want to or not. I would know, since I spent the majority of the time reading this during band rehearsals (whoops).

The story is told from the voices of two girls, Amber and Violet. While Amber is wasting her days away in a juvenile detention center for women, Violet is on her glorious path of going to Julliard as a ballerina. However, like many books, the paths of these girls converge with one character: Orianna. Although we don’t hear Ori’s voice throughout the book, it’s clear what her character is. She’s that sweet girl that likes everyone, no matter how they act. She is loyal, friendly, and perfect almost to an unrealistic degree. We’re not reading the story from her perspective, though. No, although she is vital to the plot, Amber and Violet are the people we empathize with. They’re the ones that somehow we just get, even if they end up being totally different people than they seem…

I just want to drool over Nova Ren Suma’s prose more. Seriously, coming into the book I wasn’t very excited. But after reading the first paragraph, I couldn’t stop.
“We went wild that hot night. We howled; we raged; we screamed. We were girls – some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen – but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men.”
Doesn’t that just suck you in? Don’t you just wonder, “What to heck is happening and why”? I seriously fell in love with her writing from the first page.

I think the blurb has everything else you need to know. There’s a supernatural aspect of the book that I highly enjoyed, and it really works with the story. Honestly, I had no idea how the book would end. Twenty pages left, and I still didn’t really know. But when the ending came, all I can say is that it was really fitting to the story, and I really, really liked it.

Even if you’re not a fan of supernatural things, there’s only a small bit of it in this book and besides that, it deals with the usual contemporary problems of girls and their drama. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not any of those senseless soap operas we see in shows and all – this drama is pretty intense. Overall, if you like contemporary with a twist, then definitely check this one out.

Rating: 4.5/5

Quotes are from an ARC copy and are subject to change upon publication.

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