Monday 8 October 2018

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Review: A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren SumaA Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma (proof) - Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.

Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave...
From Goodreads.

I was sent this proof for free by Algonquin Young Readers for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Trigger Warning: Seeming suicide attempts.

Warning: This review features mild spoilers. Do not read any further if you do not want this book spoiled for you.

A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma sounded really exciting! I was expecting an atmospheric ghost story full of creepiness! What I got was a confusing story that left me with so many questions and very few answers.

Eight years ago, Bina and her mum ran away from home to get away from Bina's abusive father. Bina was sure they would be heading to New York and Catherine House, the boarding house she had heard so many stories about from her mother. But things don't quite go as planned. The guy in the car that picked them up when hitchhiking ended up becoming her step-dad, his house her home, and his daughters her tormentors. Eight years later, after lies told by those daughters, Bina's mum kicks her out the house. Just for a month, until things calm down. She can stay with friends from the church they now go to with her step-father - even though they're Jewish. Hurting from not being believed by her mum, Bina decides to go to New York instead, to Catherine House, and seek refuge there. But Catherine House isn't what it seems, with it's residents wanting to leave, and the photo of the house's namesake, in which she appears to move. Drawn to the mysterious and secretive Monet, who just sparks more questions. But Bina's biggest question is, why would anyone want to leave?

I'm going to be completely honest with you: I do not have a clue what happened in this book. We get some answers in regards to what is going on with Bina, but that was always pretty obvious, with all the flashbacks. But otherwise, I have no idea what was going on. There is a legend that Catherine de Barra, the rich lady who owned the house, in order to escape her many suitors who were after her money, jumped off the roof of the building, but her body never landed, just disappeared. Is this true, or is it just legend? No idea. Why does it appear that Catherine can move in her portrait in the parlour? No clue. What is stopping the other girls from leaving Catherine House, and how? I don't know. And what's the black opal ring, that her mother lost but then magically appears to Bina in Catherine House's garden, have to do with anything? I haven't the foggiest, but maybe Catherine could tell us once she wakes up. Why would she wake up, and from what, and what would that mean? God knows. And why do they think Bina is the one who can do it, and that she'll be able to help everyone leave? I'm none the wiser.

I have to admit the book was gripping, because it led to all these questions, and it was just so intriguing! But then I finished the book, and not a single one of those questions was answered. And I was annoyed and angry and all, "What the hell?" I have no idea what I read. No idea whatsoever. And Bina was no help, being a completely unreliable narrator, who had no interest in asking questions of her own, even when portrait Catherine was moving, or when girls were asking for her help to leave, or that they couldn't seem to leave of their own accord anyway. She just kind of shrugged it all off, because she was happy to be away from her step-father, and at the house where her mum had such experiences, and she was pining for a mum she used to be close to who didn't seem to know who she was any more. She just didn't care, didn't think about it, didn't ask questions. I thought that at least once she realised what I had realised, we would finally get some answers, there would be an explanation. Nope. And I really don't understand this book or why it was written. What is the point of a crazy book that makes no sense, and not give any answers? Why? What am I supposed to get from this book? Or was the point to write the most infuriating book ever?

Perhaps I'm not smart enough for this book, and there were other hints that gave you the answers that I didn't see, but from the reviews I've read, I don't think so. Most people tend to have no idea what happened either, even those who enjoyed the book (though how they managed to do that, I don't know). I have never been more confused by a book in my life, or felt more disappointed and let down. Obviously, I do not recommend this book, but others really loved it, so maybe read a few other reviews before deciding whether to read it or not.

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the proof.

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Published: 4th September 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Nova Ren Suma's Website

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  1. I really want to read this buuuut I've read one of her other books and had the same reaction: I have NO idea what happened.😂 I couldn't even review it because I just did. not. understand. I think maybe specific types of people and their thinking patterns would really resonate with it?! But it's an acquired style! STILL. I love the cover so much!

    1. Oh no, Cait! I bought The Walls Surround Us on eBook a few weeks back because it was on a deal. Was it that one? I was so looking forward to it!

      But yeah, this one... I just had no idea what was going on. And it's not that things weren't explained properly, they weren't explained at all. Don't give us a mystery, and not give us answers. That's just unfair, and I don't know how I am supposed to have enjoyed it! I just don't get it!

      I have read a number of positive reviews for this, and I just don't understand how they could enjoy it and also accept they didn't have any answers. I don't get that. I don't get this book. I don't get why it was written. I am just all confusion.

      The cover is absolutely gorgeous, thought, you're right! I have a proof, and we're selling the book at work, and it's even more beautiful on the finished copy, and I was sorely tempted to buy it, but I can't. The cover doesn't make up for a story I didn't enjoy :(