So, this book. This book is special. Why? Because I got it two weeks early at book fest. (and also because it has the prettiest cover I have ever seen)
And this review. This review is also special. Why? Because it’s not only me that brings it to you this time. My friend and I read this book together and now, we bring you our reviews.
So, let’s cut to the chase.
REACH on Plot:
I don’t say this often, but the plot was one of my favorite parts about this book. The story that Suma tells is an absolutely beautiful one. While a lot of books are mainly plot or mainly character driven, this is one that’s both. Everything kind of weaves together all at once, and all you can do once you’ve jumped in is let it take you where it will. The intensity is incredible, the emotion is even better. Suma takes every aspect of her story and blows it up so that you can see all of the details…just not until she shows you where they are.
The story keeps its secrets. But it doesn’t lead you astray. It’s so captivating and so interesting that you can’t help but listen to it unfold as if you’re right in the middle of it. Every new twist and turn makes your heart jump, every scare becomes a deeply unsettling fear. The story that The Walls Around Us tells, is, in a word, unforgettable.
Sniffer on Plot:
When people say Young Adult Paranormal, I scream, “Nooooooooooo.”
(Because once, I slipped up and read Twilight. Don’t ask. Don’t judge. It scarred me for life. It was bad. End of story. Forget about it.)
The Walls Around us is the first paranormal novel that I actually loved. It was the perfect amount of strange, the perfect amount of creepy, and an insane amount of disturbing. From the jarring opening, the novel keeps a consistently dark tone that builds tension until you can’t bear it anymore. Though some scenes are slow and some of the pacing a bit shaky, the tight feeling in your chest never fades.
It is rare that I become fully invested in a book. It is rare that a book truly moves me. When I read emotional stories, they often don’t reach beyond tugging at the loose heartstrings—the ones that are always changing with my mood. The Walls Around Us snipped off the loose strings and stabbed me right in the ventricles.
Okay, perhaps that sounded strange, but that is exactly what I felt. The Walls Around Us is not a monotone book. It creates complex feelings that affect every section of your heart.
Regret. Sadness. Joy. Hope. Redemption.
They are all present.
REACH on Prose:
My weakness is pretty words. An overabundance of them. Well done flowery prose is just about my favorite thing ever, and Nova Ren Suma’s is some of the best. One of the jobs of good prose is to aid the story’s atmosphere, and the prose in Walls Around Us does that really, really well. All throughout the story, back and forth between the narrators and their different situations, the prose is fitting and just absolutely beautiful.
It’s a very smooth-feeling kind of writing. There aren’t really any sudden stops or short sentences, because it doesn’t really call for that. The whole of the book is very much suited to the velvety-feeling writing, and I was very happy to let it captivate me and block out everything else.
Sniffer on Prose:
Reading Nova Ren Suma’s book is like reading a rippling, flowing, surging, colorful song. It is like bathing in a stream of flowers that tickle the sides of your cheek and cast their aroma into the air. It is like breathing a whole garden of spices. It is like diving into a vat of perfume and drawing in every last ounce of it into your soul. It is like soaring off the edge of a cliff and embracing the open space. It is like holding a beloved’s hand, and suddenly finding your lips locked with theirs and your heart thundering.
Reading The Walls Around Us is beautiful, but tiring.
There comes a point when something special becomes ordinary, and unfortunately, Suma’s writing falls into this trap. I was ecstatic for the first few pages, but when the beautiful prose kept going at full throttle, I became numb to it. I believe in sparsity. If a writer can use strong style consistently and save the stunning moments for important scenes, the book can reach a gut-stabbing level of impact.
Suma keeps her book powerful—stunningly powerful, actually—but nevertheless overuses her lyrical prose.
REACH on Characters:
How do I even begin to talk about these characters? Each and every one of them is so alive in their own right. You never wonder who’s who or why someone is there. They’re all crucial and they’re all so, so interesting.
I cried for a lot of them. I screamed at a couple of them. I felt for all of them, somehow. Each individual story was heart wrenching. I didn’t know who to love and who to hate for the longest time, and I don’t think I ended up truly hating anybody.
Obviously I have only good things to say about this book. If I were to keep going there would just be emotions everywhere, and no one wants that.
Sniffer on Characters:
The Walls Around Us is unique in the fact that for the first few chapters, you are not sure who you are supposed to like and who you are supposed to hate. Everyone is interesting, but it is easy to predict a character’s outcome in both directions. Someone could be good, and someone could be bad. You don’t know. An odd feeling of suspense fogs the first half.
When the mist clears, when motives rise, and when you can see everything, the characters become sharp. The suspense of unknowing flips on its head and becomes the opposite. When you know, emotions flood in. The actions of each character are more affecting. The turns of the novel are more exciting, because you know who you care about.
Also, The Walls Around Us is the first book to make me terrified of ballerinas. So, props to Suma for that.
My favorite thing
Anyone who frequents this blog knows that I love ghosts. Every time I read a good ghost story, I disappear happily into its pages for as long as humanly possible. And so while I am completely in love with everything about this book, the fact of how well it deals with its genre is absolutely my favorite part. The surreality, the creep factor, the sheer terror incited at times. The best part. By far. This is one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever read, and it’s not even completely about ghosts.
To see what Sniffer’s favorite part was, visit his blog. It is very much worth your time.
- Rating: 5/5 stars
- Recommended to: Fans of scary things, really good ghosts, incredible characters, and even better settings
- Lasting impression: Red feathers. Red feathers everywhere.