Monday, October 27, 2014

[Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin]

"The Walled City"
Author: Ryan Graudin
Series: None
Pages: 432
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Alternate History
Date Published: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via NetGalley) for honest review


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.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To The Walled City,

Talk about gritty, that's what you are. You made my skin crawl and even though I'm not claustrophobic you made me feel like I might be. The city inside of you was like a character in and of itself and I enjoyed it--a lot. The fact that you are loosely based on a real place that once existed, makes me feel pretty disturbed, but at the same time you're a book that makes life seem a little bit more amazing and you show that no matter how bad it get's there is always a beauty to life.

-The White Unicorn

There are those books that make you feel tired when you read them and The Walled City was one of those for me. I don't think that that's a bad thing, it means that things are happening, that the pacing keeps you on your toes and that you're not sure what is going to happen next. Graudin has plotted this novel to exhausting perfection. Every page is full of something that will shock you and make you root for all of the characters.

Though The Walled City is a fictional place, it's based on the Kowloon Walled City that was around not too long ago in Hong Kong. The fact that the inspiration for Graudin's Walled City was real place puts a whole new weight to the book. These fictional kids could have been real people, dealing with things that, hopefully, none of us ever have to deal with. 

The story is told through the eyes of three different characters. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of multiple POV, but this book made me like it. Graudin used three pairs of eyes in a way that made the story flow well and gave us more of the story than we would have gotten with one POV. None of the main characters or their POV's felt like dead weight and each of their eyes were needed in telling this story.

Dai, Jin and Mei Yee are all connected in a way that is really special. Graudin could have so easily turned this into a love triangle and yet she doesn't. The book benefits from this on so many fronts. It gives the story room for romance and, more importantly, friendship. It takes three teens and gives them all a common goal. It does what so many other books refuse to do and I'm glad that that's the approach that Graudin chose to take. 

The book is filled with every dark theme you can think of. Prostitution, drugs, murder, domestic violence, gangs and more. It's intense, but it's a story that is more than those things. The focus on family lightens the load and shines a light on things that might be a bit much for the normal reader. It's something that really makes the power of family stand on it's own feet and that might just be my favorite thing about the book in general!

 4 Unicorns = Close to perfect!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

So I don't think this one is for me right now but definitely sounds like something I should pick up when I am in the mood for a darker read! No love triangle, is a nice bonus!

Ashley @ The Quiet Concert