Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review| The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma      
March 24, 2015
Algonquin Young Readers

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

This is an intriguing book. The story is told by two alternating narrators. Amber is an inmate at a juvenile detention center, and Violet is a promising ballerina on her way to Julliard. At the core, they are both talking about Ori, and how this girl moved both their lives.

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.

This story vividly shows that some teenage girls are not exactly made of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’. They can be downright cruel, manipulative and abusive. And you don’t have to cage them to prove that. But this story also tells us that circumstances happen and forces us to react. Our actions define us; we make certain choices, and suffer the consequences. The question of guilt, starvation for freedom, or the lack of it –these are themes relevant in the story.

There are plenty of good reasons to look forward to this book. The feeling of wrongness was maintained throughout the story. The thrill of getting to the conclusion is evident. Both narrators were given their independent voices; the reader can weigh them both apart. Yet, despite their independence, they both connect the dots.  They both complete a picture, a revelation, and a conclusion.  The language adapted suited both the theme and setting for the story, but well-minded.  Aside from the minimal violence, there is nothing too graphic. So it’s basically clean for early teen consumption.

Nova Ren Suma took a risk here with structure and style, which she pulled well together. But I wouldn't mind a finer version, wherein the narrators have more depth other than just storytellers; it feels like they are looking from the outside. I guess I was looking for those raw emotions usually vivid in this setting.  All the girls have varying layers, it was a challenge to attach to anyone in particular, which I find vital in any children or YA books.  I also prefer a much sharper conclusion; the event seemed too subtle for me compared to the hype of the first scene.

Regardless, I still say this is interesting and worth a look.

Book details:
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publication: Algonquin Young Readers, March 24, 2015
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, YA
Rating:  ★★★

*This book review is also posted via GoodreadsShelfari, and Tumblr.
Thank you Algonquin Young Readers and Netgalley for lending me a copy.


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