Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review ~ The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Genre: YA survival
Pages: 432
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Description: 
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.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Walled City lived up to my high expectations and also managed to surprise me. I was expecting an exciting, cool read--which I got--but I wasn't expecting the meaning that was infused in the story. It was about pushing through, staying strong, fighting for freedom, starting anew. It was about healing from the emotional wounds inflicted upon you and finding your place in the world . This message popped out to me while I was reading the epilogue and I loved how it stood out after all the darkness, murder, prostitution, and drug-dealing that the rest of the book held.

I loved the writing. I highlighted several sentences--more like paragraphs--just simply because they sounded nice. Looking back on what I read, the darkness of the events and subject matters contrasted with the writing. It was beautiful, whereas the thing happening in the story were ugly. I loved that.

The characters were pretty good. Seeing as I became fully invested in their stories and worried (and cried--man, one part of the book was painful) when they were in danger, the author obviously did something right. I loved how each of the main characters faced their own battles and grew in different ways, but had help/influence from one another as they did so. I also loved the cat. After the three protagonists, he was my favorite.

The genre was a little tough to pin down because it has a dystopia fantasy feel to it, but has historical, real life elements to it. Hak Name used to be a real place in Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City. I loved the idea to set a story there and I loved how the book didn't seem to fit neatly into one genre. That sets it apart from other books--make it a different sort of read.

I appreciated the non-U.S. setting. Reading something set somewhere else feels refreshing. The names, makeup, food, and the rest of the details that showed Chinese culture were nice (albeit small) additions to this book.

The Walled City was exciting. No, that's not the right word. Nail-biting. That's what the book was. Danger was everywhere. Hak Nam was definitely not a safe place to live. Women were sold or forced into brothels and were injected with heroine (so they would become addicts) if they tried to escape. Stealing a guy's shoes could get someone chased and killed. There were plenty of moments of peril for the characters.

Overall, The Walled City has so much to offer: great characters, a different feel, beautiful writing, dark subject matters/themes, and a lot of meaning. It's well worth reading!

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