‘The Walls Around Us’ Takes YA Horror to the Next Level

18044277Wowza! This is—hands down—one of the creepiest young adult books I’ve ever read. That says a lot because I’ve been a YA horror aficionado ever since Fear Street broke out back in the 90s. I just gave away my age, didn’t I? Oh to heck with it! I’ll say it loud—I’m a 90s child and I’m proud!

If you’re more of a movie-goer instead of a bookworm, I’ll break it down for you like this: Girl Interrupted meets Black Swan meets The Others. Heck, I’ll even throw in The Blair Witch because of the impending feeling of doom, and the anticipation of a horrifying cataclysmic paranormal showdown.

Told through shifting narratives, weaving from the past to present day, the story begins with Violet, a teenage ballerina on the verge of making it big. She is your quintessential “bunhead,” meaning she eats, sleeps and breaths ballet—and will stop at nothing to reach the top. On stage, she is the picture of perfection. Yet underneath that polished veneer lies an ugly green monster. This girl is BAD news! And as the story goes on, she gets even worse.

The story then shifts to another girl named Amber who is living in a completely different world. Trapped within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, she’s doing some hard time for knocking off her mother’s abusive husband. Shunned by her mother, she has no friends or family—just a bunch of animalistic teenage girls who torment her nonstop. Her only comfort is her book cart, which she dutifully organizes and pushes around the gloomy hallways.

“Our private tastes in books showed a hint of our secret selves.”

One girl is living a lie, concealing the ugliness deep down inside. The Aurora Hills girls, however, are doing quite the opposite. In order to survive, they must tamp down their humanity and only reveal their inner monsters. Either way they’re not who they seem. And let’s just face it. In real life, that could be said for just about anyone.

“I knew that just because people on the outside were free and clean, it didn’t mean they were the good ones.”

Enter Ori. The naturally gifted ballerina who rocks both of these divergent worlds. Unlike any of these girls, she hides nothing. Her inner beauty shines through—on and off stage. Only she wields the key to unlocking the girls’ innermost angels and demons. Trust me, once they begin to unravel, you won’t be able to put this book down!

I’ll stop right there before I give anything away. But I will tell you to dedicate an entire day to reading because this book is addictive! Clear that schedule and sink right into this dark, twisted, tragically beautiful tale of lies, deceit, murder and rage! There’s no doubting that teenage girls are a little frightening with their high drama and raging hormones. Teenage ballerinas, however, are downright terrifying. Throw in some homicidal lunatics and a pack of bunhead mean girls, and you’re in for a wild ride!

Might I add that this would be an excellent pick for book clubbers. I would love to listen to some discussions about the symbolism between Ori and the story of the Firebird (a coveted role she performed in ballet). Also it would be interesting to explore the meaning behind the red cup, and how it rekindled a sense of hope in a place of despair.

“Ori made it wanted. She acted like it was lucky. And forever after, it was.”

I you’ve read this book. Feel free to post a comment and share some theories.

Sundays in Bed with…Red Rain by R.L. Stine

SundaysInBedWithBigWelcome to my Sundays in Bed with,  a weekly meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl! This is a fun opportunity to spotlight the book I’m reading on the glorious day of the week.

This morning I’m reading: Red Rain by R.L. Stine

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I have a soft spot in my heart for the mastermind behind the Fear Street series, which gave me delicious nightmares back in junior high when Nancy Drew Super Chiller mysteries were the only other “scary” titles in the young adult section.  So despite the overwhelming number of one-star reviews, I decided to give this one a try. I mean, come on, how could I refuse a new title by my childhood idol?

As for the negative reviewers, I can totally understand their issues with the bland characters, stunted dialogue and horror movie clichés. Yes, the main characters are one-dimensional. And yes, the freaky twin thing has been done to death in movies like The Shining and Village of the Damned. But you know what, R.L.’s trademark cliffhangers at the end of each chapter keep me glued to the pages until the wee hours of the night.

Reading this book is a lot like watching a campy horror flick. Going into it, my expectations for character development are pretty low, but I still have a lot of fun with the thrill ride. Aside from some awkward sex scenes, this is pretty much a young adult book. So if you’re expecting a horror story on par with the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, you’ll most likely be disappointed. This book isn’t scare per se, but it’s definitely entertaining!