Title: The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
Ballet has fascinated me ever since I was a child. What little girl doesn't dream, however briefly, of being a prima ballerina, seducing the audience with her grace, beauty, and form, telling a story with her body as the pen? It reminds me of my first ballet--a mandatory school trip, back in elementary school. I don't remember much--the velvet darkness of the hall, the hush of the audience as the spotlight dropped on the star, and the way the music enchanted me just as much as the dancer had. Every one of us dreams of being a higher being than we really are--and ballerinas get to have that, but not without sweat, blood, and tears.
This book has got to be one of the best of the entire year. Nova Ren Suma, where in the world have you been all my life? Gorgeous, frightening, lifelike prose frames the story of three young women: Orianna, Violet, and Amber. Ori is a gorgeous dancer, life and her love for it pouring out of her, but not as much as when she takes to the stage to dance. And then there's Violet: Violet who is tortured repeatedly by her fellow dancers, good enough for the background but never for the spotlight. And then there's Amber, the dead girl who 'killed' her stepfather and paid the ultimate price.
Where do I begin? I loved the way ballet was mixed into the plot. (I'm more than a bit curious about watching Black Swan now..) The prose was glorious, dark, gory, and potent. Well-worded metaphors and comparisons frame frightening incidences, more often than not with more than enough gore. (I love gory horror stories! Makes it that much more fun.)
I'll warn you guys, now: prepare to be mind fucked like never before, should you choose to read this novel. (Which, you should! Worth it.) The thing I loved most about this book was that it veered it all sorts of directions, and it exposed the darker part of human nature that most would rather ignore than face. This book is dark, gory, and terrifying. But it is also a powerful message: If society doesn't even want you, then what's the point in trying to be good? (Not condoning any bad behavior here! Lol.) What do we do with the 'dregs' of society? Are a bunch of bad little girls even worth saving?
Part of what was so dark about this lovely little book were the characters: There's Ori, who did nothing but try to protect a friend in desperate need of help, with a bright future ahead of her. And then there's Violet: too scared to stand up against her tormentors, the constant pressure of being perfect already cracking her fragile facade. And finally, there's Amber, who did something so terrible at thirteen that it got her put away for life.
But the twists--the twists!--were what really made me love this book. I couldn't predict it; half the time, I had to reread at least twice so I could really understand what was going on. And the ending--holy fucking hell, what a bombshell of an ending! Amazing! Bravo! Wonderful! (Why can't all my books end like that? *sob*) The bottom line: If you love horror novels, ballet, a good mind screw, or friendships gone wrong, The Walls Around Us is a perfect fit! Next on deck: Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace!