The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

18044277The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Length: 336 pages
Genera: Paranormal
Subjects: magical realism, juvenile detention centers, thriller
How I obtained the book: NetGalley eARC

Rating: 

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. 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 a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

We were still alive, and we couldn’t make heads or tails of the darkness, so we couldn’t see how close we were to the end.

Haunting and eloquent, The Walls Around Us is a chilling story of two girls, whose lives are forever tied together in both life and death. Simultaneously feverish and ethereal, Amber and Violet’s paths towards the truth are both compelling and soul-crushing. The Walls Around Us is a unique ghost story, as it is ultimately about the death of dreams and ghostly lingering of hope.

The Walls Around Us is a desperately, achingly sad book. Nova Ren Suma wove ounces of melancholy into each and every chapter, making your heart ache for all the girls within its pages, and their wasted potential. From Violet to D’amour, each character brought something new to the novel, and without even side characters, the atmosphere wouldn’t be the same.

Despite their actions, both of the main characters were relatable and immensely well written. Throughout everything, Violet has squirreled her way into my heart with her conniving and morally grey ways. Amber, while not personally my favorite in the book, was an extraordinary character whose actions garnered my respect and love. Orianna’s personality was the most likable of all of them, and I felt incredibly sad for her and everything she went through.

The writing is light and airy on one page, and dark and desolate on the next. With poignant detail, the world of The Walls Around Us is hyper-realistic and I could practically feel the cold, harsh walls of the Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center and watch Ori’s solo piece from the dance of the Firebird.

Suma’s novels have never been the fastest or the easiest to read. Despite their gift with writing, their books can often be difficult to get through, and fully understand the book. While Suma’s issue isn’t completely resolved and at times I found my attention slipping, I found The Walls Around Us much easier to read than their other books, like 17 & Gone. The plot is much easier to understand here, though some chapters took me a couple extra readings to fully comprehend.

Like most Nova Ren Suma books, the plot feels very faraway, tying everything together but never the focus of the book. While The Walls Around Us is certainly not lacking in plot, it is sometimes hard to find it through the thick prose, and it’s easy for important strands of the story to slip through your fingers.

Told in half truths, the reader is forced to sift through the chapters in order to find the truth. Heavily character driven, Suma focuses on character development in order to tell the story. As we learn about the two girls and their stories, it becomes increasingly obvious what truly happened. The Walls Around Us is most definitely not a quick read, as it requires more comprehension and focus than most books.

Beautifully crafted, Nova Ren Suma continues to delight their readers with stories of guilt, innocence, and the price of the truth. It’s dark and somber, yet strangely beautiful and peaceful. The Walls Around Us is an all-around must read.

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Slated by Teri Terry

12743472Slated by Teri Terry
Publisher Orchard Books
Length448 pages
Genera: Dystopian
SubjectsMemory loss, Thriller, Mystery
How I obtained the bookLibrary, hardcover
DNF review

Rating: 

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.She’s been Slated.The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

Slated is one of those books that sound great in theory but in actuality, it didn’t end up that great. Reading the blurb made me extremely excited but the book however is the exact opposite. While there were many flaws to the novel, the major one was the fact that the book was written in the first person.

To understand why this was a monumental fail on the author’s part, you need to know something about the main character. Thankfully, this won’t be a very long interruption because there isn’t much to say about her.

Kyla is the main character who’s traumatic backstory includes brain wash and stuff. Yeah, poor baby, .ect. Someone however forgot to tell Kyla that brainwash does not mean you become akin to say a robot or a door.

Actually no, there are robots and doors with more energy and vigour than her. She’s worse.

Kyla is seriously the most colorless, commonplace, dead, drab, drudging, dull, flat, ho hum, humdrum, insipid, interminable, irksome, lifeless, monotonous, moth-eaten, mundane, nothing, nowhere, platitudinous, plebeian, prosaic, repetitious, routine, spiritless, stale, stereotyped, stodgy, stuffy, stupid, tame, tedious, threadbare, tiresome, tiring, trite, unexciting, uninteresting, unvaried, vapid, wearisome (no I did not just copy the thesaurus entry for boring… heh) character out there.

Consequently, the writing is the driest monotone out there and there is pretty much absolutely nothing to keep you going. Like, how am I supposed to stay awake interested when much of the book sounds like this:

‘Interesting choice for breakfast,’ Amy says, then sits up and yawns. ‘Are you an early bird?’
I look at her blankly.
‘Do you always wake up early?’
I consider. ‘I think so,’ I say, finally. ‘Though that could be because at the hospital you have no choice.’
‘Oh, I remember that. Horrible morning buzzer. Breakfast by six.’ She shudders.
‘Want one?’ I hold out the box.
‘Oooh, tempting. Maybe later, when I’m more awake. What is that?’ She points at the folder in my other hand.
‘My drawings.’
‘Can I see?’
I hesitate. I rarely show them to anyone, though Dr Lysander insisted on checking through them now and then.
‘You don’t have to show me if you don’t want to.’
I sit next to her and open the folder, pull out the sheets of paper. Amy exclaims at the one on top. A self-portrait. Me, but different: half as I am in the mirror, the other half skin missing, eyeball hanging from an empty socket.
‘May I?’ she holds out a hand, and I pass the drawing to her.
But that wasn’t on top before. I start flipping through the sheets.
‘You’re so good, this is amazing.’

This is an actual conversation from the book, by the way. This is actually how she sounds throughout the book.

Not even the plot could keep me going because honestly, it’s extremely flat and boring. There isn’t enough to really keep the story moving because all and any plot twists were easily guessed.

The author gives away all the clues in such a way that it becomes incredibly obvious. While sometimes hiding things in plain sight is great, it doesn’t always work. Especially when you have little to no skill. World building is what readers look for and they remember it. If you put a crucial bit of information right in front of their eyes, they’ll see it.

The whole cast of characters were bland, to put it lightly. They had little to no personality or distinguishing characteristics. Everyone talked in the same monotone as Kyla, except for one of the characters who had the bubbly manic pixie personality which is less of a personality and more of a stereotype, if you get what I mean.

So, the boring plot/characters and terrible writing joined forces to create one of the most dull stories I have ever read. I would not recommend this book to anyone and would advise you all to stay approximately 50 feet away at all times.

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

12930791Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
Publisher Annick Press
Length434 pages
Genera: Thriller
SubjectsVideo games, horror, mystery,
How I obtained the bookNetgalley, ecopy

Rating: 

An intelligent computer game with a disturbing agenda.

When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.

Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.

Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur. This utterly convincing and suspenseful thriller originated in Germany, where it has become a runaway bestseller.

As someone who has wasted fruitfully spent countless hours and weekends gaming or doing things related to gaming (aka crying about how I don’t have pc Skyrim or Guild Wars 2), this book was something that I obviously had to read. I was fairly nervous about it though because I had no idea how someone could write a good book about a video game. It’s not really something that is easy to write since video games are a very visual and auditory experience that can’t very well be replicated on paper.

Yet, somehow, even with Erebos’ shitty translator, Erebos manages to convey the feeling of playing a fantastic video game while having an amazing plot at the same time. Many chapters are from the point of view of the video game character, which makes Erebos a wholly original experience in many ways.

Like I said, one of Erebos’ biggest drawbacks is the absolute awful translator. Sentences are completely weird and often, whole paragraphs don’t make any sense at all. The translator is German but obviously, they don’t know how to translate at all. I can’t really say anything about the writing because there is a high chance that Poznanski is an amazing writer with a really sucky translator. I’ll have to get my mom to read it in German one of these days so she can tell me if the writing is decent or not.

Horrible translation aside, the story is amazing. I couldn’t put the book down once I picked it up. The story was incredibly engaging and entertaining. Like a good thriller, Erebos kept you guessing for much of the book. It was a bit erratic at times and it wasn’t very tight but I loved it anyway.

While you don’t have to be a gamer to find the concept absolutely brilliant, but it definitely helps. A game that interacts very directly with the player and adapts itself to you? How awesome is that? It’s both scary and amazing.

I am happy to say that the concept was executed brilliantly. I am still in awe of how Poznanski handled the incredibly hard subject. It had the perfect feeling to it, one that put you right into the character’s shoes. I fell headfirst into the world of Erebos and I’m still not over it. I really wish I could wipe my memory of it and reread it and re-experience it.

Another flaw to the book are the characters. They lack life and energy for the most part. I never really connected with any of the characters.

The main character, Nick, was the worst. He felt more like a filler character that was created simply because Poznanski needed a main character. He didn’t really have a personality and felt like a character that you should use as, I don’t know, a body for you to put your personality into? I’m not sure how to describe it but Nick didn’t feel like a normal character.

I know I’ve said words like perfect a lot in this review but that’s really all I can think of for the book. Overall, I’d recommend Erebos to people who either like thrillers or video games – or both. It was an awesome read that deserves lots of readers.

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

16065498Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
Publisher
 HarperTeen
Length
320 pages
Genera:
 Science Fiction
Subjects:
Thriller, Other Dimensions, Horror, 
How I obtained the book
Edelweiss e copy

Rating: 

Actual Rating: 3.5

In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew.

A shadowy figure. An intense roar. The sensation of falling—fast.

That’s all Callum Harris remembers from his tumble over the waterfall. But when he wakes up in a hospital bed and finds his best friend trying to kill him, Callum knows something is seriously wrong. Unfortunately for him, the mysteries are just getting started.

Why are his parents acting like he’s some big sports star all of a sudden? And why are all the buildings in town more run-down than Callum remembers? Worst of all…what happened to Callum’s brother? Either Callum has gone seriously crazy or something happened when he went over the falls. Something impossible. Callum needs answers, and now. Because in this twisted new version of the life Callum knew, his former best friend isn’t the only one who wants to see him dead.

Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go.

I really regret not reading this sooner. I received this arc one to two months ago but I got it at a weird time and it got hidden under the numerous other arcs I had been accepted for at the same time. The first time I did finally get to it, I didn’t make much progress because the writing style is very funky, to say the least. So once again, I put it down to read other arcs.

I got back to it a few days ago and I’m overall, very happy that I didn’t let it get forgotten.

The writing style was still very weird and required some a lot rereading before I could completely understanding what was going on. The first 3 – 4 chapters were extremely confusing. The writing style does get easier to read as you progress but I’m afraid that many other readers will loose interest before getting into the meat of the book, which is completely worth it.

My favorite aspect of this book is the awesome mystery. It’s not a mystery book so to speak but it definitely has one. You ask a lot of question and every chapter leaves you with more questions so you just have to read one more chapter. And then another one. And then another one. You can’t stop reading until, before you know it, you’re turning the last page.

One of the huge downsides to this fast paced prose is the eventual loss of proper explanations.

The author definitely wrote this story in a way that made the reader ask a lot of questions. The narrator was as clueless (ok, a bit more clueless) as the reader was. By the end however, the reader is left with a lot of unanswered questions. I know what happened but why did it happen and how did it happen? We are left with a cheap “it just did” answer and that’s the end of the book.

As I mentioned above, the main character was extremely stupid at times. He didn’t see what was right in front of him. I understand why the author did that but I almost find plot-nesescary stupid even worse then just having a stupid character. In my opinion, it’s a sign of shoddy writing. C’mon guys, I’m sure you could’ve found a better way to progress your plot than making your character a moron.

Callum wakes up with a feeling of amnesia because, well, his whole world is cray-cray. Instead of realizing that something is seriously wrong, Callum goes on for practically the entire book thinking everything is fine and he somehow forgot that he was a) an asshole, b) a football star, and c) the brother of a cripple.

Dude, that’s not something you can just “forget”. I can forget to ask someone a question. I can forget to do my homework. I don’t go “Oh my god, I accidentally forgot that I have a crippled brother. Darn.” That just doesn’t happen.

The good thing is, besides that complaint, he was a pretty good hero. He didn’t slut shame or act like a huge jackass to everyone. I did like him a lot, even though I did often want to slap him upside the head for acting like a huge moron.

This book really only had two characters of importance. While I don’t think I can count that as a flaw because it fits the story, I would have liked Other Dimension Girlfriend to have had more of a personality other then that bitch.

One point of disappointment is all the wasted potential with some of these ideas. It could have been amazing if some points were delved into more. There were a lot of little things that were mentioned once and then never heard of again. These little things could have made the book so much better.

The ending is the main reason that UNDERCURRENT couldn’t get a full 4 star rating. It was extremely rushed and underdeveloped. It felt like it should have been 10 – 15 pages longer with less of an abrupt ending.

UNDERCURRENT could have been amazing if not for a few points. I do recommend this book however. It’s a pretty good science fiction story with an engaging plot that makes you want to keep reading. Overall, I’d say that UNDERCURRENT has earned the Lisbeth seal of approval.

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

13260536The Murmurings by Carly Anne West
Publisher Simon Pulse
Length384 pages
Genera: Science Fiction
SubjectsThriller, Evilness, Horror, Mental Facilities
How I obtained the bookLibrary hardcover

Rating: 

Actual Rating: 3.5

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

It looks like I’m going to be the odd one out with this book, but not in the way you might have thought. In a surprising change of events, most of my friends did not like this book or at least, gave it a two star rating. But I did like it. I’ve been thinking pretty hard about this book and how I want to review and rate it. After a bit of deliberation, I’ve finally settled on a happy three and a half star rating.This book isn’t perfect, nor is it anywhere near perfect. It has a lot of problems, yet it also has a lot of positive points to it. While the book takes a long time to build up, the last part of the book is more then worth the wait. The supporting characters aren’t all that built up but none of them are stereotypes or jerks.

Please take a moment to read the summary again and take a good look at the cover. I’m sure that by now you have vague ideas of what the book is about. Something that involves lots of scariness and creepiness and staying up all night? Nope, sorry.

THE MURMURINGS’ summary isn’t exactly truthful. It promises the reader a world of paranormal creepiness. Instead, the book turned out to be more of a mild psychological horror, or more appropriately a psychological thriller. There aren’t any paranormal or real horror aspects to the book till the last 100 to 150 pages. Instead, West spends her time building up the story and the atmosphere. This may not appeal to some people but personally, I really liked this.

Sophie, the main character, spends much of the book trying to figure out what exactly happened to her sister and why did she end up dead in an entirely different city – especially since she was “locked away”. The book progresses very slowly here but I never felt like I wanted to drop the book.

In the second half of the book, everything changes. Here enters the evil doctors, mental institutions, torture chambers, death, and gore. This part is the main reason I loved the book to be honest. While I enjoyed the beginning parts and Sophie’s struggle with insanity or what she perceived was insanity, I do agree with most people by saying that the second part of the book was the main strength.

THE MURMURINGS avoided many of the standard clichés in YA literature. There was a cute romance that didn’t overshadow the plot. It was treated as more of a side plot then the main objective of the story. Sophie’s inner turmoil didn’t consist of “omg, who do I love?”. No, instead it ran more along the lines of “am I fucking insane or what?”

Though I found THE MURMURINGS to be a pretty awesome book, I was very disappointed by the ending. I hate easy endings. The ending wasn’t in itself easy but the last chapter ruined the whole ending for me. I expect that when someone walks out of such a traumatic experience to have some scarring but from what it sounded like, everything was hunky-dory is happy land.

Aside from a few problems with lying blurbs and terrible endings, I surprisingly really liked this book. While it’s definitely not my favorite, it was enjoyable and exciting, with just the right amount of scariness for the book. I recommend THE MURMURINGS someone who is looking to spruce up a boring afternoon.

Mind Games by Kiersten White

12578294Mind Games by Kiersten White
Publisher
 HarperTeen
Length
237 pages
Genera:
 Science Fiction
Subjects
Thriller, Powers, Sisters, Schools
How I obtained the book
Library, hardcover

Rating: 

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

Was your favorite part of PARANORMALCY

a) the romance
b) the writing
c) the humor

I’m guessing that you chose c because that is the logical answer. PARANORMALCY was a hilarious fluffy and immature read. The book’s strength was most definitely not the writing or the romance. The writing, to be honest, was pretty mediocre. The only thing that really made the book shine was its humor.

Now, imagine PARANORMALCY except with mind reading assassins, a darker tone, and without all the humor. This book be potentially really awesome if White’s writing style had improved and changed for the book. Her writing remained the same, which did not fit the book at all.

The book’s first draft was written in nine days. Some people it work but others… can’t. The biggest drawback to the book is its absolutely horrid writing. The two POVs were written in a way that makes it feel like you’rereadingallthewordsinonespurt. One of the narrators, Fia, is especially bad about this. She’s also got the attention span of a my dog.

I wish we were at a deli, eating and laughing, and feeding Chloe. I miss Chloe. I wish she were my dog and I had an alcoholic father and I were the type of girl that Adam could date and rescue and fall in love with. I wish my left arm didn’t hurt so much I wanted to die, because it also means I can’t tap tap tap my leg, without that fidget I don’t know how to stop the thoughts and feelings flooding through me.

There is so much going on in that one paragraph that it’s hard to concentrate. I know why it was written in this fashion but I felt that instead of adding to the story, it only detracted from it. It was done so poorly that it was a complete immersion breaker instead of something to improve the book as a whole.

Fia’s POV was pretty much a jumbled mix of CAPS LOCKS and run on thoughts. I spent a lot of her POVs trying to figure out what the fuck is happening. It was so confusing. There were random thoughts interrupting other thoughts and lots of uppercase for no apparent reason.

Another immersion breaker was the fact that there was absolutely no explaining done in the book. In books, you usually know a few things like where the world is set or how it functions. But in MIND GAMES, I had no clue.

The reader had no idea where or when this book was set. The whole concept of “powers” was confusing and I didn’t quite understand it. Most of my confusion was do to the shoddy writing and fast pace of the novel.

This became a huge problem, as I couldn’t understand anything at all. (view spoiler) I think there was this society that was out to get the school for people with powers. Fia’s boyfriend – or was he her boyfriend? – had this evil dad or something.

The problem I had with the characters was that they were very underdeveloped and I felt no emotional connection to them. Fia and Annie were in constant danger, yet it didn’t feel like it in the slightest. I was never actually concerned for the characters. Fia and her addictions were very contrived and lifeless and Annie was so bland that I couldn’t really care about her at all.

The saddest part of all was the wasted potential. The book could have been something truly spectacular but instead, it ended up being a bar short of the mark. MIND GAMES is occasionally entertaining and it certainly kept me turning the pages. The negatives outweighed the positives however and left me with a disappointing read. I don’t recommend reading and I really don’t think I’ll read the second book.