Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled CitySource: Little, Brown – Received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Little, Brown
Edition: eBook, 448 pages
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Purchase:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

The Walled City is a standalone thriller that takes inspiration from history and brings it to life in the modern world. The Walled City itself is based off of the actual walled city called Kowloon City. It was an incredibly cramped area full of crime and people just trying to make it, and Graudin centers her story in a similar stifling and dangerous place.

The atmosphere in this novel turned out to be one of my favorite things. It feels like a hopeless place, with it’s small living space and poverty, and the imagery that Graudin included made it come to life. I could practically feel the cold, wet allies and smell the food from the street vendors…never in my life have I wanted a hot bun so badly. The plot is pretty intense and I loved having three view points to read from, it really opened up the story and made the tension that much thicker.

Dai, Jin, and Mei Yee are all fantastic characters and surprisingly I liked all three. It’s so rare that I legitimately like all of the main characters as much as I do these three. Dai is working to right a wrong from his past and it’s putting him in very real danger, and to do what he needs to do he needs help from a few others. He’s a strong willed character with a huge amount of guilt crushing him, both for the events of his past and for using people to ensure he can return to a normal life. Jin is a girl living in an area where it’s not safe to be one, and as a result she pretends to be a guy. She wants to find her sister who was sold, and the only way to do that is the put herself directly in the line of danger. Jin is an incredibly brave girl, who does so much just to stay alive in this city and continues to push herself through out the book. Not once does she allow herself to be weal, even when her body is telling her that she is. Jin is a beast. Mei Yee plays an interesting role. She seems sort of innocent and naive, but she has gone through so much that it would be impossible for her to truly be either of those. She knows a harsh reality, while at the same time she leads a sheltered and somewhat blinded life. Her chapters were calmer than Jin and Dai’s, but they were just as tense because of what she has to do in order to continue being ‘safe’. Mei Yee exudes strength of character. She’s kind and willing to forgive, but as she sees a way out of her current life she also becomes willing to do what she needs to in order to make it happen.

The only issue I had was with Dai and Mei Yee, it’s not quite insta-love but it comes close and to be honest it was barely an issue at all. Their relationship is not a focus at all until towards the end, and romance doesn’t really factor into this story.

If you want a fast paced and beautifully detailed story that wraps up in a single book then find a copy of The Walled City and give it a try!

4 stars

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2014) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

  1. Lauren says:

    I’m really looking forward to this one! I know it’s under the tree for me tomorrow! 🙂

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