This is a very descriptive, atmospheric book, and if you like acres of description then you’re in for a right treat. The writing is very stylized and I didn’t really hear a whole lot of difference in the voices of the two narrators, despite their differing backgrounds. I really got the sense of the different relationships between people in a young offenders’ institute, though! The parts of the book set in the prison were very moving and the fact that Amber describes such a terrible situation with such a deadpan narrative makes it all the more effective.
The problem I had with The Walls Around Us was that I didn’t really get what was going on half the time. Am I thick? I think I might be thick, because so many people have really raved about this book, but I constantly found myself having to re-read passages to try and work out what was going on.
Right from the very beginning, in the scene where the prison doors come undone, I was struggling to pick the story points out of the narrative and work out why things were happening. I had to read the ending three times and even then it wasn’t until I read someone else’s review that I realized what had happened. I just didn’t get it and it seemed like a ‘And they woke up and it was all a dream’ ending, or like in Dallas when the Who Shot JR? storyline was just a figment of Pam Ewing’s imagination.
There were quite a few questions that felt like they were left unanswered. Had Amber always been able to see into the future? Or was it the lightening that triggered it? Did Miles know all along what was going to happen in the end? It seemed like he did, but we never found out. And Orianna still remained a complete enigma. I had literally no idea why she stayed silent about the truth all through her trial and sentencing.
I guess if I had to put a label on the style, I would call it magic realism. It was kind of dreamy and stream-of-consciousness and the plot didn’t have a clear structure - it kind of meandered around. I don’t mind a meandering plot, but there needs to be some character development or something happening. At times, reading this book was like trying to see through frosted glass.
I can see why so many people loved this book. I really can. The author is obviously very talented and if you like this style of book, I would say that this would be right up your alley and the idea behind it is brilliant. The style just wasn’t my kind of thing.