Book Review: The Walls Around Us


Title: The Walls Around Us

Author: Nova Ren Suma

Rating: 4/5 stars

Series? No.


Book Depository

My Halloween reading continues! While some of this book was confusing, I adored the suspenseful writing and the constant mystery which shrouded the story.



For Ori, dancing came naturally, without a nervous stomach or worries she’d forget the steps. She danced like it was meant to be, in a way that couldn’t be copied, no matter how carefully I watched her move, mirroring my body after hers and trying to get my limbs to loosen up and act more free.

Although I don’t watch ballet in real life, previous consumption of the manga Swan and along with the movie Black Swan – has turned me into an ardent fangirl of ballet related drama. Violet, one of the narrator in this book, is one such competitive ballerina. I love the contrast between the beautiful, pink dancers with the darkness behind the curtains. From the get-go, we get a sense of Violet’s obsession with her art, along with hidden layers about jealousy, bullying, and a bloody homicide or two. Violet is not a protagonist you could root for, but she makes for a fascinating narrator – filled with envy, paranoia, and a frustrating tendency to victimise herself in every situation.


We were gasoline rushing for a lit match. We were bared teeth. Balled fists. A stampede of slick feet.

Okay, that subheading is a terrible pitch. I promise it’s better than it sounds. Amber is the second narrator – and she’s been in Aurora Juvenile Detention Centre ever since she was 14. From her point of view, we see another side to cliques and power pyramids. While the battles in the world of ballets are fought with perfect routines, lead roles, and snide remarks – the conflicts in the Aurora are both physical and mental. I really enjoyed reading Amber’s observations on her fellow inmates, and how she details their personalities or tics. Amber also made for a delightful narrator because of the numerous mysteries involving her – what did she do to end up at Aurora? Is she innocent? Could anyone possibly be innocent? There are also some interesting commentary made regarding racism and the flawed justice system through her narration.


We were gasoline rushing for a lit match. We were bared teeth. Balled fists. A stampede of slick feet

Knowing there’s an unreliable narrator usually takes the punch out of potential plot twists – yet The Walls Around Us kept me guessing constantly. Due to the nature of the story lines, I could never be sure whether our narrators were lying, or if they suffered from delusions of their own. The two point of views in the novel was expertly interwove through Ori: a ballet prodigy and kind-hearted girl who allegedly murdered two fellow students in cold blood. Ori was the light in both Amber and Violet’s narration, yet with the cryptic deaths hovering over her shoulders, she remains an enigma. While the writing did an excellent job on establishing characters and mood, the plot continually revealed just enough information to make us want more – yet not enough for us to have a definite answer until the very end.


Our private taste in books showed a hint of our secret selves, and sometimes I was the only one who got to see those secrets.

Soon after I finished this book, I took to Twitter to seek for help deciphering the ending. Thank you Claire for coming to my rescue! While I enjoyed the bold direction the author took the ending, I also felt that the climax was confusing and jarring to the tone of the rest of the book. Nonetheless, I am still seized with the need to go and reread The Walls Around Us, as I feel it’s one of those books that would feel completely different the second time around.

If you have a recommendation for unreliable narrators, I would love to hear it!  Have you read this one? Or do you like twisted ballet psychological drama? Tell me in the comments ❤

32 thoughts on “Book Review: The Walls Around Us

  1. I am loving your Halloween reads series. I think this is one I can actually read without peeing my pants or having sleepless nights 😀 This sounds super interesting, especially since I love ballet! I haven’t had too much experience with thrillers (because, as previously established, I am weak) so I’m sure I’ll be surprised and shocked at every turn. And I’ll probably come to you screaming “what is happening?!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent the weekend reading Carry On and Memoirs of A Geisha so my Halloween reading has been cut short! Have you seen Black Swan? If you liked that dark psychological theme you would enjoy this! I think this is definitely OK to read even if you’re a scaredy cat 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I received Carry On in the mail today! Can’t wait to read it… but I’m buddy reading Six of Crows with Jesse and Joey, so I want to marathon Grisha this week first. Then I need to read something for Happy Indulgence. But can’t wait to know Simon and Baz more. DID YOU ENJOY IT?!

        I saw Black Swan and it was okay. I was a little bit creeped out in some scenes but was mostly okay. Maybe I’ll give this a go next Halloween 😀


      2. Carry On is indulgent, what I mean is that it’s very meta. I think it’s for hardcore Fangirl and HP fan only – WHICH I AM SO I AM LOVING IT. I still have half the book to go. OMG six of crows is amazing, don’t like Grisha put you off.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds really intriguing! I’ve heard about it from Michelle Hodkin (the author of the Mara Dyer series), I think she recommended this book a while ago on her tumblr. Anyways, I’ve been wondering about it since, it seems like such a one-of-a-kind story. And after reading your review, I just want to read it now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I was not expecting BALLET to be a part of this novel at all! And at the same time there seems to be a contrast of much darker themes. Although its been on my TBR for a while (only due to that gorgeous cover) I am interested in it now!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there’s quite a bit of ballet school drama in this one – so if you are intrigued at all, I would knock it up your TBR pile. Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing amps up the drama in a ballet story like some bloody murder, am I right? Haha. This one sounds like a very thought-provoking read. I always love books that make me immediately jump on Twitter right after reading them – whether it’s to share theories or gush.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This book will definitely make you jump onto twitter because omg so twisty, I am STILL CONFUSED ABOUT THAT ENDING. Read it and lament with me!


  5. What a gorgeous design, Aentee! I LOVE IT! I’ve seen this book around and put it on my “maybe shelf”, I admit I had my doubts regarding unreliable narrators and confusing ending. But your review is so beautiful and these quotes are so alluring, I’m very tempted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ksenia, I’m glad you like it!! The ending is definitely confusing, but part of the fun is screaming about it at other people XD!


    1. Sorry to hear it wasn’t for you, Sarah! But I have to admit, the style of writing is not for everyone – I think if I was not in the mood for horror/thriller I would have ditched it at first XD


    1. I *THINK* I FIGURED OUT THE ENDING? Though it’s a very jarring paranormal twist? I am glad you had Shannon to elucidate for you XD


  6. So, as you can see above, Val and I were confused for quite a bit longer. Do we even understand now!? Who knows. I think that you nailed the problem though- the climax WAS jarring, and had me reeling, because the rest of the story was told at a VERY different pace. I did adore the writing of this book though, and I would almost want to reread it just to see if I could figure it all out this time 😉 Fabulous review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you guys commented right after one another as well 😉 I think the ending act was definitely a complete tone (AND A COMPLETE DIFFERENT GENRE) to the rest of the book – though I think I could roll with it in this case.


  7. aentee thank you for putting this book under my radar! this sounds very interesting and i am very intrigued. i will definitely add this to my to be read now. the lack of scary books i’ve read is embarrassing i need to remedy it asap.

    all the love,


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