Friday, November 21, 2014

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma


The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

4 stars

I’ve always thought that the best way to go into a Suma novel is to know almost nothing about it. When I went into Imaginary Girls all I knew was that the cover was gorgeous and that the main protagonists were sisters. I went into 17 & Gone only knowing that the main character was trying to crack the case of a missing girl and then becoming obsessed with several other missing cases. I went into The Walls Around Us only knowing it was written by Suma. I didn’t even read the summary and I think all I need to say about Suma’s work is…

But since I’m reviewer and I’ve been slacking on reviews ‘cause I’m absolutely horrible and have decided to get a social life, I’ll actually articulate my thoughts on this novel without using just one gif.

If you are curious what this book is about… then the briefest summary I can give you without spoiling the major plot is that Ori and Violet were best friends… until something went wrong and one of them ended up with Amber in a place she never expected to be. That’s literally all you need to know. I don’t want to spoil anything because not going into this book with any knowledge was what had me turning the page and biting my nails in anticipation for the reveal. I consider Suma to be one of the best YA authors I’ve read. She has an entrancing style that I just breeze through and find myself easily lost in.

This book opens up in a really weird way. Don’t let the beginning trip you up, though. It has a purpose… a purpose I wasn’t expecting Suma to use. Also this book is set in Canada. I don’t read very many Canadian settings, but this one was interesting. This book is simply put a “typical Suma”. This sounds weird for someone who hasn’t read any of her works before, but all of her elements are there. Lyrical writing, dark atmosphere, haunting characters, and the ability to leave me in chills once I close to book (or my PDF file). I did find this to be Suma’s most suspenseful novel so far. The only thoughts going through my head while reading were, “What’s going to happen?” “What’s the secret/ twist?” “Where’s this going?”

We have two POVs, which is very different from Suma’s usual style, but then again I’ve noticed that she never sticks to a particular writing POV in her novels. They always vary.

The main female characters in this one are Amber, Violet, and Ori. Amber is my spirit animal for books. I can totally see Suma’s love for books and the library in Amber’s character.
"Our private taste books showed a hint of our secret selves, and sometimes I was the only one who got to see those secrets."
This quote was during a prison break. Amber had the chance to break out and run free, but she went to the library… her library. I don’t know if I liked her character though. She was enamored with Ori too much. It kind of creeped me out. Then there’s Violet who has become THE ballerina. She’s off to bigger and better things soon, but first she must visit Ori. I once again find myself loathing a Suma character. She reminded me a lot of a character is Suma’s debut novel (that I won’t mention because it’s a spoiler) with her manipulative mindset and psychopathic tendencies. She was also incredibly obsessed with Ori. Obsessed to the point where I was waiting for her to be like “P.S. I love Ori as more than a friend/ sister and that’s why I hated your bae.” Alas, that didn’t happen because Violet is just Violet. Then there’s Ori. She reminds of the same character that Violet reminds me of. It’s so weird, but she’s has her ability to make people fall for her on-sight. The thing I like about Ori is she doesn’t use people’s love and admiration against them. She’s a genuinely good person to the people in the novel.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Amber- 7 Violet- 5 Ori- 8

The main male character is… I just think I should point out that there is never really a main Romeo in her novels, which is something I truly love and admire about her novels. A good writer is a writer who can make me love the characters without there being a love story. (But Ori did have a bae. He seemed to love her and it was adorable in the scene I’m thinking of.)

Swoon Worthy Scale: Omitted

The Villain-

I like to think of Suma as an evil puppeteer stringing us along in her writing because fun times for her while making us squirm, plus there was a bloodbath.

Villain Scale: 8

The girls of the prison were integral in the story. I love how Suma was able to weave in their personalities without it being annoying to the flow of the story.

Character Scale: 7

I love the incorporation of ballet and prison life. Two very parallel things, but it somehow worked very well.

This book left me feeling haunted. Oh, puns! The content is one of Suma’s darker ones- taking on the theme of retribution and punishment. The twist at the end was very strange, but justice was served. Definitely not Suma’s strongest work, but still enjoyable. I highly recommend this for Suma fans or anyone curious about all the hype around her.

“Some actions remove words entirely from your vocabulary.”

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover all on its own. It’s is absolutely beautiful, but since I’ve read this I can actually appreciate it’s symbolism and the beauty of it (also the horror).

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