TITLE: The Walled City
AUTHOR: Ryan Graudin
PUBLISHER: Little Brown Books
GENRE: Thriller, Suspense, Romance, Action
RATING: 4/5 Stars
There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.
Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.
What I Liked:
- The world-building in this book. As I thought that this was going to be a Dystopian I was expecting a totally new world. But having looked into it, Graudin did a heck of a lot of research to build up this chillingly realistic world. Violence, prostitution, trafficking and drugs are very prevalent issues in this book, issues that were very real to the people who lived in Kowloon (the city on which this book is based).
- Graudin really put a lot of thought into the plot. Seriously, I was biting my nails throughout the whole thing on the edge of my seat, convinced that something terrible was about to happen the whole way through. I really liked the constant sense of impending danger that Graudin wrote skillfully into the story. It certainly had me hooked! I think the changing viewpoints really helped further the plot and keep the quick pace of the story interesting.
- The characters that Graudin wrote were pretty well constructed too and I enjoyed the fact that they each had their own agenda and secrets, and gradually learnt to trust each other. It made for enjoyable reading, and learning about their back-stories as the story progressed really helped me to understand them better.
What I Disliked:
- I guess the only thing that slightly niggled me was just how quickly Mei Yee and Dai seemed to fall in love from the moment they meet. This is particularly on Mei-Yee's side but I think being stuck inside the brothel, it's easy to see why the promise of outside and freedom are so mesmerizing to her. Plus there is an eighteen day time limit for this book so I think I'll forgive Graudin this time!
There were so many good things in this book. Graudin writes really well (I've seen complaints that she uses way too many metaphors and similes but I can't say that I noticed) and the plot was totally gripping. Graudin has clearly done her research because the setting was so well-described, it felt very real and very current. It's hard to ignore that people actually lived like this (and still do in some places). The tiny bit of insta-love present didn't really bother me that much because I liked Dai and Mei Yee as a couple, and Jin Ling was an awesome character who really stuck out for me. I guess I always route for young girls who prove that they are not just weak and fragile and that they can actually fend for themselves.