Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

the walls around usNovel: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published: March 24th, 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, mystery, paranormal
Rating: 4/5 stars

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I received this book from the publisher -THANK YOU- via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: 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 mysteries… 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 deserve—in this life or in another one?


“Home 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.”


I didn’t fully know what to expect from this story when I started reading. The synopsis doesn’t really give  you much to go on. And to be honest, even after I’ve read this I couldn’t tell you what to expect from this story. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I definitely enjoyed reading this novel, even though I was confused at times.


As this is a YA mystery story, I feel especially obliged to keep my mouth shut about the plot line. You see, mystery novels need to be discovered by each reader. You need to go along this journey, not knowing what to expect.

What I can say is that the plot is definitely intriguing. It didn’t take me very long to read this book, mostly because I just wanted to figure out what was happening. I don’t quite know how to describe the way this story is told. Well, we get introduced to every character through flashbacks. Sometimes a few months back, at other times even years. I guess that’s one of the reasons I found it to be confusing at times.

It’s a very intriguing mystery, especially thanks to the paranormal aspect of it. You don’t know what is happening or how, but you WILL find out. The reasons this book wasn’t a true 5-star read for me are both related to the storyline. First of all, I was confused. And often, I don’t mind. However, I was unsure of what I was reading throughout the first few chapters. And then, at the end I was even more taken aback. I’m still not quite sure how it actually ended. I’m left with so many questions!


Violet. In my opinion, Violet is a terrible person. An absolutely horrendous person. If I were queen of the world –and I will be, according to my 10-year plan– she is the kind of person I would lock up in a cold dungeon somewhere. Or maybe kill. I haven’t fully decided on my justice system yet. Reading from her point-of-view is very interesting though, because it messes with your mind! It just took you on a emotional roller coaster: I hate Violet, I feel bad for her, people are so mean to her, poor girl, wow, self-centered much? You get what I mean? It’s hard to make up your mind!

Orianna. While the story is not told through Ori’s point-of-view, we sort of get to know her through the others. Her story was the most captivating! This is truly where the mystery part of the novel comes in, and you just soak up all the information about Ori. How she was as a child, what kind of teenager she grew up to be. You’re constantly looking for clues as to what happened. I loved it. And I loved Ori too.

Amber. Again, another emotional roller coaster! I did not know where to cheer for her, feel bad for her, be afraid of her or despise her. The story is mostly told through Amber’s point-of-view, and as with the others, you slowly find out what happened to her through flashbacks.

The mystery that ties these girls together is insane. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll absolutely see it coming. But the story itself, is insane. In a good way of course. This book really shows that life is a grey area. There is no true black-or-white or right-or-wrong. Well, at least not in every case. Especially in Amber’s case. This story also showed me that I would be an absolutely terrible judge. All of the girls in Aurora Hills were sentenced there, to prison. Hearing some of the girls’ backgrounds, I would not be able to do so. As I said, no situation is truly black or white.

Overall impression

I definitely enjoyed this book. The characters are interesting, the mystery intriguing and the paranormal aspect is downright baffling. Like I said, because of the flashbacks and switching POVs, it can be confusing at times. I would recommend this to you, if you read YA of course, but be prepared that the ending may not give you all the answers you’re looking for.

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25, reader, blogger, feminist, INFJ

9 thoughts on “Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma”

  1. I love mysteries, intrigue, and I definitely love books where the morality is grey instead of starkly obvious. 🙂 Definitely going to keep my eyes out for this one!


  2. I’m glad to see there are some intriguing elements to this book. This is one of the books I wasn’t sure I was going to pick up and now I’m just waiting for my library hold to come in. Great review, Jolien! Oh and may I please be a duchess when you become queen?


  3. I haven’t read a straight-up mystery in ages so this really interests me (also the cover is stunning). I really like that you said that the characters aren’t your typical YA heroes and can actually be pretty terrible people, that really makes the book stand out to me, especially in YA. I also like books that switch between different perspectives so that interests me as well. Luckily I’m a Haruki Murakami fan too so the fact that the ending doesn’t answer all the questions probably won’t bother me. Thanks for the review, I’ll try and check this one out as soon as I can.


    1. Thanks! I hope you’ll like it. Maybe even more than I did, because I don’t really love being left with so many questions surrounding the ending. It’s indeed very refreshing to see that the main characters weren’t the typical heroines who save everyone. Honestly, I feel like these characters are much more representative of humanity these days.. I think we can all agree that the world has more of the gre-area characters than the heroines. Really liked that aspect!


  4. Your description of how awful the main character is totally has me intrigued about this book haha! I am curious on who would not survive in your new world so that I can save myself 😛

    Fantastic review, makes me want to read the book!


    1. Seeing as you are a fellow booklover, I’m sure you’ll be fine in my queendom. You may even be revered and get your own personal giant library. Sound good?

      Thanks! I hope you’ll like it 😀


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