The Walls Around Us – Nova Ren Suma

This post is going to be VERY SPOILERY.

I had an unusual reaction, compared to other readers, to the narrators of this book. Yeah, Violet, the driven ballerina who sends her best friend Orianna to jail for a double murder she committed, is unsympathetic as hell. But Amber, the gentler girl in juvie for killing her abusive stepdad? Is an even worse person than Violet. Amber murders literally everyone she knows rather than face a future of uncertainty. It’s Amber, not Violet, who is responsible for Orianna’s death.

And is Orianna as innocent as she seems? She gathered the poison Amber uses to kill the entire juvenile hall, although she may not have been aware of what Amber was planning. She’s much more implicated in Violet’s eventual death, which allows her Orianna to rejoin the world of the living. She doesn’t participate in her murder, but she lures her to the spot and digs the grave before Violet’s even there. That, to me, speaks to an (understandable) premeditation.

Justice may be done in some ways by Violet’s death and Orianna’s return, but Orianna too is tarnished by what happened to her because of Violet and by what she herself finally does about it. And as for Amber, though she may be a more conventionally sympathetic narrator than Violet, that just shows how messed up our ideas of sympathy are, how easily we are manipulated.

Anyway, a fine horror novel/ghost story.