Chantal (Every Word A Doorway)'s Reviews > The Walls Around Us

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
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What a phenomenal book this was. So unique, so different, so suspenseful. This is my first book by Nova Ren Suma but it won’t be by last. I gained so much respect for this author and I’m hoping she’ll be a new favorite.

This novel is frightening in every sense: both because of outer events and the inner thoughts of the characters. It’s a spooky novel that tells a twisted tale, but is also highly psychological. I loved it. Every second.
We were alive. I remember it that way. We were still alive, and we couldn't see how close we were to the end.

The Walls Around Us is the most perfect title for this book: It’s about walls, about what it means to be trapped; not only physically but also trapped inside your own head. Living every day with terrible thoughts swirling around your mind, your own guilty conscience making your life hell. To me, this is the scariest thing of all because I am my own biggest critic. I am the one person I can never get away from.

This book contains so many things: jealousy, madness, friendships and rivalries, ambition, guilt, self-preservation. Nova Ren Suma managed to take all these elements and create something eerie and dark that was amazingly addictive. I read this book in two days because I just couldn’t put it down. I needed to know, I needed to understand.

The story is told in two voices – Amber and Violet – the former locked up in the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center for a crime she may or may not have committed, the latter an aspiring ballet dancer who is about to have all her dreams come true. These two girls are seemingly unconnected, except for one thing: They both know the girl named Orianna. Orianna – a girl locked up for having murdered two innocent girls.

The Walls Around Us was utterly captivating, but also very strange. It’s part psychological thriller, part paranormal mystery and for most of the time you aren’t actually sure what is real, what is someone’s unreliable narration and what is simply supernatural. It’s one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read and I mean that in the best possible way. Not even because of the plot – of which this book has very little – but because of the way the characters think, their seemingly emotionless state.
We were gasoline rushing for a lit match. We bared our teeth. Balled fists.

I will admit that I may be slightly biased when it comes to Violet’s and Orianna’s passion. They train to be professional ballet dancers. I think that most readers will probably prefer Amber’s perspective to Violet’s because of the intimate look it gives into a correctional facility. The group dynamic inside the walls of Aurora Hills is portrayed brilliantly. As much as I loved Amber’s voice however, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Violet. As awful and horrible as it sounds (and if you’ve read the book you know what I mean), I could identify with Violet. She’s mean, self-absorbed and incredibly jealous (all things I hope I am not) but when she described the way she felt dancing next to Ori and being on stage, I understood her. I got where she was coming from. That scene where Violet goes to cry in another room after the dance teacher told Ori she could start dancing en pointe but Violet wasn’t ready yet… I nearly started crying too because I know that feeling so well (and I’ve never even wanted to be a professional!). I don’t know if others can understand this, but the constant comparisons, the look in the mirror, the desire to be perfect and knowing you’re never good enough…it does change the way you think about certain things.

The writing is absolutely stunning. It is beautiful and haunting and Nova Ren Suma establishes an atmosphere that sucks you in and compels you to read on. The prose gets under your skin.
When a dancer finds herself onstage, before an audience, and comes upon that dreaded moment that can happen even to the best of us, when her mind empties of her choreography in a flood of panic, there are three different reactions she can have. In each one, she’s like a wild animal in the headlights, but the question is, which animal will she be tonight?

The ending is very odd and might not answer all of the reader’s questions, but is ultimately satisfying.

As much as I loved it, I know this book isn’t for everyone. In fact, I don’t even know to whom I would recommend it. So I’ll say this: If this review has made you even remotely interested, then please give this book a try. Even if you don’t love it, it will give you a reading experience quite unlike anything else. It messes with your mind, takes hold of you and doesn’t let you go until the end.

The Walls Around Us is highly atmospheric and creepy, beautifully written, intimate and tragic and filled with intriguing characters. I adored it!
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Reading Progress

July 31, 2015 – Shelved
July 31, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 22, 2015 – Started Reading
August 25, 2015 – Finished Reading
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: best-reads-of-2015
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: favourite-books
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: listened-on-audio
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: magical-realism
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: paranormal
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
September 6, 2015 – Shelved as: published-2015
October 30, 2015 – Shelved as: mystery-thriller-horror

Comments Showing 1-41 of 41 (41 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Is this what you're currently reading? If so, how is it?


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Anne wrote: "Is this what you're currently reading? If so, how is it?"

Yes it is. I'm really loving it so far :)


message 3: by Toni (new) - added it

Toni THE QUOTES. OMG. Why wasn't I interested in this book before? Well you convinced me. I'll give it a shot. And I think I'll really relate to Violet as well.
I don't even have to say fantastic review anymore because your reviews are always wonderful af.


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Anna wrote: "THE QUOTES. OMG. Why wasn't I interested in this book before? Well you convinced me. I'll give it a shot. And I think I'll really relate to Violet as well.
I don't even have to say fantastic review..."


Try it, Anna! The opinions on this book are very mixed but maybe you'll love it! Thank you so much! That means a lot :)


The Book Queen Fab review as always, Chantal! You've finally convinced me to read this one. It looks fantastic! Can't wait :)


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) The Book Queen wrote: "Fab review as always, Chantal! You've finally convinced me to read this one. It looks fantastic! Can't wait :)"

Thank you!! I hope you love it!


Vanessa J. Yess! I'm so glad you liked it! I was afraid you were not going to like it because it was weird. Fantastic review! I agree - it is a disturbing book. And I didn't know you were a ballet dancer! I can't even imagine how you felt throughout this (besides what you said, that is).


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "Yess! I'm so glad you liked it! I was afraid you were not going to like it because it was weird. Fantastic review! I agree - it is a disturbing book. And I didn't know you were a ballet dancer! I c..."

Thank you for recommending this book to me! I honestly don't think I would have picked it up without your review :)

The little dance tidbits in here were honestly golden for me :) I was actually really impressed with how accurately Nova Ren Suma described the little details you think about as a dancer (e.g. your arches and feet, the pointe shoes etc.) I kept waiting for some kind of mistake but there was nothing! And when Violet tripped at the juvenile center I literally jumped up and was like "no, don't hurt your ankle!" because even the smallest injuries can put you out for a long time. So yeah, I guess I gave Violet a lot of undeserved sympathy :)


Vanessa J. You're welcome. :) And (view spoiler)


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "You're welcome. :) And [spoilers removed]"

(view spoiler)


Vanessa J. (view spoiler)

Oh, then you should read The Monstrumologist. :) Tbh, it's more scary because of what humans are capable than because of monsters. I would also recommend Vicious, but it was actually you the one who recommended it to me. :D

Lol, I feel like I tiring everyone for recommending that series. xD


message 12: by Tabetha (new) - added it

Tabetha I am going to place this on hold at my library--looks like it has so many elements that I love in a book-great review, Chantal!


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "[spoilers removed]

Oh, then you should read The Monstrumologist. :) Tbh, it's more scary because of what humans are capable than because of monsters. I would also recommend Vicious,..."


Aww, I need to read The Monstumologist already! Before you I had heard so many bad things about it that I wasn't interested, but since it's your favorite series I really want to try it. My plan is to pick it up in October for Horror month. I hope I get to it with university and all. Does it have illustrations? Do you recommend getting the physical book?


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Tabetha wrote: "I am going to place this on hold at my library--looks like it has so many elements that I love in a book-great review, Chantal!"

I hope you enjoy it! Can't wait to hear what you think :) Thank you, Tabetha!


Vanessa J. Chantal wrote: "Vane wrote: "[spoilers removed]

Oh, then you should read The Monstrumologist. :) Tbh, it's more scary because of what humans are capable than because of monsters. I would also recom..."


Bad things, really? I actually thought the book was overhyped and that's why people didn't want to read it.

Yes! It has some illustrations, though they are not a lot. I recommend getting the hardcover. Plus, the covers are so pretty! (I am talking about the blue with ravens in it.)


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "Chantal wrote: "Vane wrote: "[spoilers removed]

Oh, then you should read The Monstrumologist. :) Tbh, it's more scary because of what humans are capable than because of monsters. I ..."


Maybe it was just a coincidence that the people I followed back then didn't like it that much. Rick Yancey is obviously a well known and hyped author. Plus, I realized that my opinion often diverges from what the popular opinion is so I want to just find out what I think for myself.

I'll get the hardcover then! Seeing all your status updates and reading your reviews is making me very excited :)


Vanessa J. Yeah, my opinion often diverges too, but I really really really hope you like this series. I've read it three times already, counting the one right now.

Also, if you're in for stories with scary humans because of how realistic it is, I recommend Blindness. It is the best dystopia I've read in my life - realistic, powerful, scary, but a little disturbing.


message 18: by Tabetha (new) - added it

Tabetha ...thank you Vane for your book recommendations, which I have added!


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "Yeah, my opinion often diverges too, but I really really really hope you like this series. I've read it three times already, counting the one right now.

Also, if you're in for stories with scary h..."


That's my high school English teacher's favorite book! It's already on my TBR. It's not originally in English though, right?


Vanessa J. Tabetha wrote: "...thank you Vane for your book recommendations, which I have added!"

Hahaha, Tabetha. xD Then I hope you love both of those books, especially The Monstrumologist. :)


Vanessa J. Chantal wrote: "That's my high school English teacher's favorite book! It's already on my TBR. It's not originally in English though, right? "

No, it's Portuguese. I had to read a translation, but I think this is one of those books that you can read translated and you're not going to miss anything. :)


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Vane wrote: "Chantal wrote: "That's my high school English teacher's favorite book! It's already on my TBR. It's not originally in English though, right? "

No, it's Portuguese. I had to read a translation, but..."


Good to know. I definitely want to pick it up. So many book so little time!


message 23: by The Book Queen (last edited Aug 29, 2015 05:47PM) (new) - added it

The Book Queen Vane wrote: "Yeah, my opinion often diverges too, but I really really really hope you like this series. I've read it three times already, counting the one right now.

Also, if you're in for stories with scary h..."


I'm really intrigued by Blindness, but put off by the (view spoiler)


Vanessa J. @TBQ: I am actually one of those people who LOVE horror. Blindness is not horror, but it can be scary because of how realistic it is. It certainly is the best dystopia I've read in my life - great concept and execution and has a powerful message - but it is very difficult to read.

Also, it's not an attempted rape scene. There are rape scenes and they're brutally explicit, so if you don't feel confortable with that, you'd better not read it.


Vanessa J. Let me know when you want to read 17 & Gone. :) I don't have time now and I know you just started/are about to start university, so no pressure for either of us right now. :)

P.S.: Yay for rounding this to 5! :D


Aj the Ravenous Reader Stunning review, Chantal. The way you described this makes it sound like a must read.


Vanessa J. @Aj: I will pressure you into readin this too, haha.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

WOW! Chantal this review is amazing! I have never dedicated myself to dancing but I can connect with it on the other things that I've done. Who hasn't felt that pressure? Or that dissapointment when you still weren't good enough?
Anyway, amazing!


Kells Next Read Great review chantal. I have both the ebook and the hardcover version in this book. After reading your review I think I'll be pulling it up in my quene.


message 30: by Giulia (new)

Giulia Love the review!:D


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Mila wrote: "WOW! Chantal this review is amazing! I have never dedicated myself to dancing but I can connect with it on the other things that I've done. Who hasn't felt that pressure? Or that dissapointment whe..."

Thank you so much, Mila!! Absolutely, I know those feelings from many aspects in my life not just dance and I think it's something many can identify with.This book just took to whole other level, which I loved, but as I said it might not be for everyone.


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Kelly wrote: "Great review chantal. I have both the ebook and the hardcover version in this book. After reading your review I think I'll be pulling it up in my quene."

Please do, Kelly! I cannot wait to hear what you think of it! Thank you :)


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Giulia wrote: "Love the review!:D"

Thank you so much, Guilia!


Sarah Stunning review, Chantal! I loved this too, and the writing was incredibly beautiful. One of the best books of 2015!


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Sarah wrote: "Stunning review, Chantal! I loved this too, and the writing was incredibly beautiful. One of the best books of 2015!"

Thank you, Sarah! Agreed! Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year. I'm so glad you enjoyed it too :)


message 36: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny Wonderful review,Chantal! :) This one's on my TBR list,looks like I have to read it soon ^^


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Jenny wrote: "Wonderful review,Chantal! :) This one's on my TBR list,looks like I have to read it soon ^^"

Thank you, Jenny! I hope you enjoy :)


§ Bookworm Nidhz § (Loves Romance) STUNNING review my gorgeous girl :)xx


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) § Bookworm Nidhz § wrote: "STUNNING review my gorgeous girl :)xx"

Thank you so much!


Neil (or bleed) Really great review, Chantal. :) I'm reading her another book, 17 & Gone and liked her Imaginary Girls. :) And I agree with you about her writing.


Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway) Neil (or bleed) wrote: "Really great review, Chantal. :) I'm reading her another book, 17 & Gone and liked her Imaginary Girls. :) And I agree with you about her writing."

Thank you so much, Neil :) I need to read more by her soon, glad you enjoyed it!


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