The Walled City

The Walled City

by Ryan Graudin


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

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 traffic 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316405065
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 577,587
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, SC with a severe case of wanderlust. When she's not traveling, she's busy photographing weddings, writing, and spending time with her husband and wolf-dog. She is also the author of the All That Glows series and The Walled City.

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The Walled City 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Goldenfurproductions More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS I picked up this book, expecting a dystopian, but while this book had dystopian elements, this book is incredibly realistic. And I loved it! This book takes place in a walled city, obviously, full of crime and poverty. It's a horrible place to live, but many find home there. Dai has been sentenced here after a horrible mistake and his time is running out. He finds help in a running boy named Jin. Jin has sneaked into the walled city to find her city and described herself as a boy to survive. She knows she's close to finding her. And, last, Mei Yee was sold by her father to a brothel in the walled city. Mei Yee dreams of escaping this life, back to her sister, but it doesn't seem possible until she sees a boy at her window... Apparently, this book was based on a true city that once existed. Now, the city in this book is completely fictional, but it's obvious that the author did her research. She was able to fully create this world so vividly that I felt like I was in this horrid world. The realistic grittiness of this book only gave it more of a unique thriller vibe, which I really enjoyed. One of my favorite parts of this book was the interactions of the characters. Trust is hard here, so no one knows who anyone else really is. Everything becomes this weird complicated game that is actually very interesting to see. I can't really explain the interactions very well, but let me just say that basically, the three main characters that we see perspectives from all are connected to one another, but they just don't know it. This only adds excitement and suspense to the book because you just can't wait for everything to come together. Another great thing about this book: there's no romance. This book entirely focuses on the amazing plot.  Now, I loved so much about this book, but I did have a few minor issues. For one, I was confused by why Dai was in the walled city, it was explained but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. The other thing is that I kind of wish I knew more about the world outside the city. IN CONCLUSION This was a very fast-paced, thriller, and surprisingly realistic read! I read this entire book in just one sitting! This was a brilliant standalone and I definitely recommend it! I'm not going to have to look into more books from this author!
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
The Walled City  by Ryan Graudin This book is not a realistic fiction or a historical fiction but it tells the story of a place long forgotten of disrepute, violence, degradation and deportment. After World War II the recovery of the city of Hong Kong went through many phases and many recoveries. Kowloon Walled City with its 33,000 plus residents of unmistakable density was run by gangs, drugs, and force prostitution. Ryan Graudin uses this historic place as a backdrop to his story. The dynamic nature of the story is eclipsed by the crime and villainy that was the Walled City. How men of power used the city to fulfill their diabolical needs and wants. The people who were enclosed within the walls were used, abused and discarded at their whim. The love story, and romance in the story is eclipsed by the difficulties and implements of the use of the city. The story of a sister struggling against odds to find her beloved sister is woven into the tapestry of pain and cost, in a human and emotional sense. Unfortunately although this story is fictional it could be reality for thousands of young children in the modern world. The Walled City brings to light some of the most degrading part of human experience, and shows teens and young adults that life is always held in a balance of want need, and desire.  It is a great book to open the eyes of young children to the strength of character and the choices we each make. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE this novel! It's one of my favorites, although I do have many. I recommend this book tremendously. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this book on a whim. And ending up loving it!
Sashawood More than 1 year ago
Located in the shadowy district of Hong Kong, Hak Nam is the darkest, most depressing spot on Earth. Hak Nam is a labyrinth of dwellings and passages, filled with every crime you could imagine and where anarchy rules amongst the inhabitants. The Walled City book brings this fictional place into reality, with the eye-opening approach to the hardships of victims of human trafficking, starvation, poverty, and parentless children in a city where you can't even see the stars from all the pollution and grime. The Walled City is a grim and gritty tale that will leave your brain rocking back and forth begging you to turn the page to see what happens next. The serious themes in a disturbing setting stir feelings of the grungy adventure in the reader. This book is based on three different points of view: Jin - a child concubine, Mei Yee - Jin’s sister disguising herself as a boy to stay safe, and Dai - a young drug trafficker trying to escape his trade. Three youths inside the walled city. All desperate for an escape and a better life. The book’s author, Ryan Graudin, has traveled to China where she became inspired to write this novel while teaching English in the area of now transformed Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. Graudin’s unique personality is reflected in her young heroes and heroines of this novel. The love and passion each hero and heroine had for one another’s well-being and safety in such an awful place is touching along with their genius master plan to break one another out of the walled city- like a punch in the heart.
Lily_F More than 1 year ago
Like many other readers, I began reading this one thinking of it as a dystopian novel. However, it did not feel like a dystopian at all. It seemed to be in a category all of its own. Though it did have some similar elements to the genre, it felt like this city could be set in our real world, though secluded away from prying eyes.... a true "city of sin", where no one dares to enter, and no one is able to leave, and everyone outside of it turns a blind eye and pretends it doesn't exist. Oppressors rule and victims hope to live another day or wish for death in some cases; this is the every day of the Walled City. Bonus that this is inspired by a real city as well, which adds an intriguing twist for those curious enough to look into it. Every character in this book was fleshed out and real. The separate storylines came together nicely and flawlessly. This book delivers as promised; from the first page it is, indeed, adrenaline filled, as our main characters, with different weaknesses and strengths, survive the ruthlessness of the cards that they have been dealt, with hope of escape. It was hard not to read this novel in one sitting. The plot was well written in cinematic fashion, and it felt like I was putting a riveting, action filled movie on pause multiple times. Hands down, one of my favorite books of the year! It is rare that I give out a 5 star rating, but this one deserves it. If you have not picked this one up yet, I highly recommend you do. My thanks to Netgalley, publisher/author for a free copy of this book for an honest review. Opinions are 100% my own.
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and good writing, but it has a slow moving plot that never really picks up and characters that seem all too similar with no real defining traits.
Topiangirl More than 1 year ago
The Walled City had a brilliant and extraordinary plot. The tagline, "There are three rules to the Walled City. Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run", is what got my attention and made me want to read the book that much more. Told from three different perspectives it follows a girl, Jin, disguising herself as a boy in order to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, the lost sister that was sold to a brother by her own father, and Jin, the boy who is trying to redeem himself. They are in a place known The Walled City, a filthy, dirty, and dangerous world. I really liked how different each character was even though I am not the biggest fan of multiple POVs. I have to admit though… the book slightly bored me. There wasn't enough romance (more like the book hinted the romance but really didn’t show it) and character depth was quite bland, they explained their situations but I could not feel the feeling behind the stories. I know all three have it tough, but I felt that an emotional connection between the reader and the characters was lacking, and at time non-exist. I do love how Graudin created this Chinese inspired dystopian world after hearing about the real walled city. I'm all for diverse cultural characters and settings. I wish we got to know more people outside of these three, for example hearing Kuan’s story would have been interesting being a small gang leader. I also love the gender bender theme in The Walled City, with Jin disguising herself as a guy, but I wish Graudin played more with the idea, used it to better the book. It just seemed as a convenient placement in the book to allow Jin to search for her sister and keep herself out of a bad situation; I wish it had more of a purpose. The action scenes though, especially the fight, were fantastic, especially Jin and her quick thinking and smart execution. I really did like Jin and wished she led the show. I would look forward to her chapters as opposed to Mei Yee… who I somehow didn't really like or care for. One thing to note is that Graudin painted a harsh world, but it was very realistic. I dislike how sometimes YA books gloss horrific events and situations in our world and I appreciated Graudin for not shying away from giving us as realistic of a picture as possible. I did end up liking The Walled City; I just wish I liked it more. My emotional disconnection with the characters was the main reason why I didn't enjoy it. So if you think you could connect with these characters, then I suggest you pick up The Walled City.
dmoitzh More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an ARC and loved it! It was fast paced and kept you wondering as the narrator switched from character to character each telling their own story until they came together. I would highly recommend this book.
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
The Walled City had a fantastic premise. I love the tagline for it "There are three rules to the Walled City. Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run." Told from three different perspectives it follows a a girl, Jin, disguising herself as a boy in order to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, the lost sister that was sold to a brother by her own father, and Jin, the boy who found himself in the walled city, a filthy, dirty, and dangerous world unaccustomed to. I really liked how different each character was even though I am not the biggest fan of multiple POVs.  I have to admit though… the book slightly bored me. There wasn't enough action and character depth for me to invest in either one. I know all three have it tough for them, but I felt that an emotional connection between the reader and the characters was lacking, at least for me. I do love how Graudin created this chinese inspired dystopian world. I'm all for diverse cultural characters and settings. I wish we got to know more people outside of these three. It seemed somewhat ridiculous how only three characters set up the whole book with little to no exposure to other characters. I personally can't put my finger on why exactly I didn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped, but it comes down to me not being invested in the story as well as reading it for long periods of time.  I love the gender bender theme in The Walled City, with Jin disguising herself as a guy, but I wish Graudin played more with the idea, used it to better the book. It just seemed as a convenient placement in the book to allow Jin to search for her sister, I wish it had more of a purpose. As for the romance.. I did not like it. It does involve Dai but which of the sisters? I can't say without spooling. All I can say is that I disliked the direction Graudin did and hoped with all my heart, while halfway through the book, it wouldn't go that way but alas.. it did.  The action scenes though, when they appeared, were fantastic, especially Jin and her quick thinking and smart execution. I really did like Jin and wished she led the show. I would look forward to her chapters as opposed to Mei Yee… who I somehow didn't really like or care for. One thing to note is that Graudin painted a harsh world, but it was very realistic. I dislike how sometimes YA books gloss horrific events and situations in our world and I appreciated Graudin for not shying away from giving us as realistic of a picture as possible. I did end up liking The Walled City, I just wish I liked it more. My emotional disconnection with the characters was the main reason why I didn't enjoy it. So if you think you could connect with these characters, then I suggest you pick up The Walled City. 
COBauer More than 1 year ago
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Well. That was FUN! Enjoyed it just as much as I hoped I would. THE WALLED CITY is a fascinating tale of hope, survival, and love. I adored the way Ryan Graudin wove three different character perspectives together to unveil the events of the story. The pacing was perfect and the world building and characterizations were handled masterfully. So many recent dystopian YA books are either unoriginal or tend to fall short–this one did not. It was unique and totally exciting. Yes, this was certainly influenced by other popular dystopian reads (Maze Runner & Running Man in particular)–but it didn’t feel like a carbon copy. The author was able to bring something new to a story we’ve encountered in one form or another before. I was also fascinated to learn this was partially inspired by the real events of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. Definitely worth a read!
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
An Absolute Must for Readers Aged 14 and Up!!! I would like to thank NetGalley & Little, Brown Book for Young Readers for granting me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: "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." A compelling work of fictionalized reality, this book will enrage you, enrage you, break your heart, and make you believe that sometimes, just sometimes, dreams really can come true. Graudin has taken a terrible reality and woven it into something that most of us can just begin to grasp/stomach under the guise of fiction, yet the truth behind this fiction is so much worse than anyone who hasn't lived it can imagine. Human trafficking is alive and well, both inside the Walled City and out. Most young women end up in brothels or as prostitues, while the young men run drugs and join gangs for there is more safety in numbers than facing this world on your own. Mei Yee was sold to the Reapers by her abusive father, not because she did anything wrong, simply because he had a thirst and could profit off his own flesh and blood. In turn the Reapers sold her into a brothel. Not just any brothel, but the brothel of the Brotherhood of the Red Dragon; the highest power within the Walled City, the Brotherhood is the most powerful gang there is. No one tangles with them and comes out unscathed, if they are lucky enough to come out at all.  Jin Ling, Mei Yee's younger sister, followed the van that stole her sister away. She knowingly followed it right into Hak Nam, the Walled City - a city where the only law is survival of the fittest. Jin is determined to find her sister and get her back. She knows that she'll have to be smart, fast, and most important of all, not a girl, if she's going to have any chance of surviving long enough to rescue her sister. Dai lives in the Walled City now, but he didn't grow up here. Trapped and haunted by his past, he has a limited amount of time in which to save himself. But what began as a quest to return home somehow turned into something far more important. It became his chance at redemption. These three young people eventually come together, all working toward the same goal, just from different angles. Initially their goals might not look the same, but their need to escape is a universal truth. Yet Jin won't leave without her sister, Mei Yee can't leave until she discovers if she has the courage to act, and Dai discovers he can no longer continue to look the other way on his path to freedom. Even before they all start working in concert, before they figure out their own tangled connection, somehow these three manage to give each other the only thing that will get them through the nightmare and safely out the other end - hope. This is a haunting story, beautifully told, with enough details to feel as if you are down in the squalor and dank depression with all those who were used, sold, stolen, or just too weak to get away. While Graudin manages to clearly convey the grinding poverty and stink of desperation, as well as the hopeless horror of being forced into prostitution, he doesn't go into graphic detail to get the skin-crawling sensation of this world across. But for all those feelings, even with the nuanced emotions Graudin infused his characters with, reading about it just can't begin to convey the horror of living without hope. Survival is hard enough, but without hope it becomes well neigh impossible. This book brings a crucial issue of social justice into the light, but in a way that is palatable enough for the young adult audience to comfortably investigate. That alone makes this something that should be mandatory and available in all high schools.
Reading-is-My-Treasure More than 1 year ago
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! Rating: 4.5  out of 5 stars *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has not affect my rating or thoughts of this book.
gaele More than 1 year ago
If you just read the synopsis for this book, you would think that it was another in the long line of dystopian stories for teens / young adults.  What Ryan Graudin has done here, however, is present a compelling view of the “walled city” of Kowloon, a real place that hides all of the seedy behaviors that people want to ignore.  Outside of the Walled City the world is as you would expect: the hustle and bustle of Kowloon and the Hong Kong scenery is beautifully detailed and described in a way that brings the city to life, with familiar and not-so-familiar elements to build a fuller picture. Yet, behind the walls, all conventional rules and the rule of law is completely forgotten. The worst people often win, the weak are preyed upon and around every corner is a new and horrible discovery.  Sadly, the author took from real life and real statistics to create the references that are brought to life through the narration. Narrated by several voices, a young girl sold to a brothel, a well-to-do boy who is barely surviving in this new environment after a mistake and the third voice, a girl who disguises herself as a boy to survive inside the walls and save her younger sister.  These three stories are on a collision path, unbeknownst to the characters, until they actually meet up and start to work together in surviving.  Removing tropes like insta-love and having these young characters work toward survival and moving forward despite the limits imposed on them by a lack of opportunities in this overwhelming environment of drugs, crime and violence keeps the story fresh and exciting, and hard to put down. This is not a story for the faint of heart: violence, darkness, gore and danger are around every corner. Graudin doesn’t hide from, or cover the truth in the horrific situations, but they are not used without purpose: each new moment feeds the story and the tension, bringing us to a conclusion that is satisfying but still leaves you with a faint feeling of “what else am I missing”. In this story, all of the ends are tied but curiosity about the real-life situations that still exist will be piqued.  Perfect for the older teen who is curious about, yet not afraid of the darker side of life, The Walled City is the book where criminals make the rules and survival is never guaranteed.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
I want you to imagine a corrupt city, running rampant with crime, prostitution and murder, where you seemingly can’t escape to a safe haven. That is where author Ryan Graudin’s characters exist in the novel The Walled City. Instantly that premise snagged my attention and left me dying to get reading. The Walled City isn’t the kind of read that drags on and on and on (and on and on and on), instead it keeps you right on the edge of your seat anticipating what might happen next to our trio of main characters. Who are our main characters? First we have Jin. A young girl who has been living inside of the Walled City and masquerading as a boy, living under the radar, doing small jobs in order to get by. Ever since their father sold her sister Mei Yee to a brothel, Jin has been searching for her lost sister and won’t stop until they are reunited. Mei Yee has spent the past two years being sold to a single customer, waiting for the day that she might be free from the Brotherhood, the brothel, and the man who owns her. Then there’s Dai who hides behind a dark past and has entered the Walled City searching for someone just like Jin to help him out with a job. But one job results in serious consequences, with each of these protagonists’ lives being intertwined and every action having a devastating reaction. At first I thought that The Walled City was set in some sort of dystopian China where all of humanity was left inside of a corrupt city or something. I was surprised to find about halfway through the novel that there was no way that this novel was a dystopia considering some of the characters’ thoughts that mentioned Western cultures and the like. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the novel that I discovered that The Walled City is actually based on a real-life city that was in China. First of all, that’s terrifying considering that the Walled City was the kind of place that seemed a hundred percent fictatious. Second of all, I wished that that fact had been made clear early on in the novel instead of leaving me wondering exactly what place in time the story was set in. That was my only real problem with the novel. I loved just about everything else in it. The characters, the plot, the subplots. I was on the edge of my seat and it only took me a day to get through the novel, put it down and just think ‘Wow, this was a really kickass book.’ I do feel like there’s a bit of everything for everyone who decides to pick up the novel. It has a badass male character who is not only gorgeous but also a tragic hero. There’s a tomboyish girl who has sacrificed everything she has for family and we have her beautiful sister who slowly learns how to become the strong woman her sister believes her to be. Personally, I was in love with Mei Yee’s character. I haven’t ready many novels with prostitution as a leading theme and haven’t had any where the main character is a prostitute herself. Mei Yee is a character who I could sympathize with and cheer on. She’s a perfect example of what a strong female character should be. She’s like Mulan minus the warrior garb and ignoring the prostitute bit. The Walled City kept me turning pages like crazy. I’m a big fan of novels that can keep me addicted and this was definitely one of those. Chapters alternated between characters and I admit, I was racing to get to either Dai or Mei Yee’s chapters (loved Jin but parts of her story weren’t as exciting as the other two characters involved). The Walled City is the perfect mix of action, suspense and adventure. My only warning for any readers would be that there are themes in the novel that include sexual assault and that they should be wary of that. Otherwise, I would recommend this novel to any readers that are big fans of novels that will keep them busy and to any fans of non-stop action. Any readers who want a novel that will tear out their heart should also pick up The Walled City.
Stephalaughagus More than 1 year ago
This book is unlike any that I have read before. I think the story is interesting and unique. And it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. (But in a good way!) The Walled City is a terrible, horrible place. There are drug lords, street gangs, brothels (with sex slaves) and a lot of poverty. Kids are living on the streets trying to survive. And young girls are getting sold into prostitution.  It is a very dark and gritty and at times violent story.  I think that the author did an amazing job with world building. I really felt like I could picture the Walled City. And I felt like I could picture the characters and the people that were living there. I had no idea when reading this story that it is based off a real place. Kowloon Walled City which was in Hong Kong. While reading the story I kept thinking about how scary it would be for this to happen and how much I thought like it could happen. Then I got to the author's note at the end and read about Kowloon Walled City. The Walled City is not historical fiction, but after finding out a little bit more about Kowloon Walled City, I think that the author did a good job writing a piece of fiction of what could happen in a Walled City.  This story is told from three different points of view. Dai is haunted by his past. He is stuck in the Walled City running drugs for the drug lord. He is searching for what he needs to be able to escape the Walled City alive. Jin is living on the streets dressed as a boy to try and stay safe. She is doing alright, but she is on her own mission. She is searching for her sister that was taken away from her years ago. And the third point of view is Mei Yee. She is stuck in a brothel, wishing for a chance to escape and see the outside world again.  These are three very different people all stuck in the Walled City for one reason or another. And all three of the characters are each hiding their own secrets.  This book had a lot of action and there were several parts of the story that really grabbed me and made me worry about the characters. There were some interesting plot twists too that I did not see coming. Yes, there were a few things that I figured would happen, but they were small and didn't take away from me being captivated by the story. I really like the characters. I think that they are well written. Though I think I connected with Jin more than the other two. She is such a strong character. She has been through so much, yet she is determined to find her sister. She won't stop until she does. And her loyalty and strength gave me hope.  Dai is also a strong character, but he has a lot haunting him from his past. And I think I found his character to be the most mysterious.  I think Mei Yee is also strong in her own way. She wants to protect and help the other girls in the brothel. And she longs to get out.  And I really found it interesting how all three of their stories intertwine.  My Recommendation: I found this to be a very interesting, action-packed story. It grabbed and held my attention from the beginning. I think that it is a dark and realistic story. And I really liked reading it. If you are looking for an gritty, fascinating story with diverse characters and good world building, then I highly recommend giving this book a read!     ***I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*** 
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what I expected when I first began to read “The Walled City”, by Ryan Graudin, but it was certainly not what I got.  It is gritty, violent, and faces the most unpleasant of subjects head-on, weaving through three different points of view, with totally different lives, to create what eventually becomes a satisfying whole. While it reads as a dystopia, The Walled City is actually based upon an actual place that once existed in Hong Kong.  Once you finish the book, I highly recommend reading a bit about Kowloon.  It is equal parts horrifying and fascinating, and it will give a real appreciation of how much research the author did to recreate the unimaginable living conditions in her novel.  It’s a history buff’s dream. All of the characters are well-developed, and all three plot lines are intriguing and filled with detail.  The reader can almost feel the desperation faced by the residents of The Walled City themselves.  There is good flow and almost seamless transitions from one point of view to the next.  The reason I gave it four stars, instead of five, is that some of the relationship dynamics seemed a bit forced, but otherwise it is a good, solid read. I recommend “The Walled City” for those in high school and above, or very advanced older middle school readers, due to the intensity of some of the subject matter. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
itsraymarie More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one, but I found that I did enjoy it. It was interesting, and different, and definitely kept my attention. My favorite part would have to be the world building. Hak Nam Walled City is based on a real-life walled city, which is both sad and interesting. This story takes place in sort of an alterna-Asia. I will say, nothing was said about the rest of the world, whether it was the same or not. (I assumed it was roughly the same, as Dai's father said something about crossing the ocean to where they speak English, but it was never made clear.) However, the part of the world that was focused on was descriptive, and made clear. The differences between the rich of outside the wall and the poor inside the world were stark and contrasting. The three perspectives were also interesting and added another layer to the story. However, I did not really feel that connected to some of the characters. Mei Yee especially. I mean, Mei Yee's situation and some of the events that transpire to the three kids were really bad, and yet I couldn't muster up the right amount of emotion for them. In fact, I really didn't feel any emotion while reading the book. I mean, I liked it, and it was good, but nothing that made me totally invested. Jin was definitely my favorite character, as she was feisty and smart and would do anything for her sister. As seen by the fact that she followed her into the Walled City to find her. She was an interesting character. Dai was okay. A rich kid who was taken to the Walled City after somethings in his past life went wrong, Dai has his secrets. I liked the interaction between him and Jin, the big brother/little sister dynamic. Like I said, Mei Yee was the one I connected to the least. I don't know, she was just there. Her and the other girls in the brother didn't have much depth to their character. The plot does move at a fairly fast pace. There were not too many slow spells (although there were a few). Did the ending tie up maybe too nicely and perfectly and predictable? Yeah, maybe. But all in all, it was a pretty good ending for the book. Even though I had a few issues with the characters and the ending, this book was still pretty good. It did keep you guessing or wondering, wanting to know what was going to happen next, so not totally predictable. It was entertaining, and all around a pretty decent read.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
Somehow I missed this book the first time it was offered on NetGalley, but was lucky enough to get it right before publication and I'm so glad I did. The characters in this book were put in situations involving drug-trafficking, sex-trafficking, poverty, physical abuse, hunger - it wasn't a rainbows and unicorns type of book. That being said, these characters were just amazing, but if I had to choose my favorite, it would be Jin. First of all, anyone who takes in a stray cat gets bonus points in my book. Although the younger sister, from early on, Jin was protecting her older sister, Mei Yee, and never gave up on finding her. On her own, she had to learn how to survive in horrible circumstances, relying on no one but herself, and then learn how to trust again when she met Dai. Jin was such a strong, admirable character. Dai's character development was also interesting as he transformed from someone whose only focus was on getting himself out of the walled city at any expense, to someone who put virtual strangers' safety and future ahead of his own. And part of that was something I found difficult to buy into. I understood the connection between Dai and Jin, partly because Jin reminded him of his younger brother, but the relationship between Dai and Mei Yee seemed to develop far too fast, especially given the fact that every man Mei Yee had ever met had never shown her kindness or given her reason to trust them. The book alternated between three POV's, but I thought it was essential to the story and helped the reader fully understand each character's circumstances. I've been reading a lot of series lately and it was nice to wrap up the story in one book, as this is a standalone. The setting was dark and gritty, as was the story, for the most part, but this was a fast-paced, suspenseful read.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Walled City by Ryan Graudin Publisher: Little, Brown Publication Date: November 4, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC from a friend Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: I was pretty apprehensive about this book at first, when I read the summary months and months ago. But I really enjoyed Graudin's All That Glows, so I added this on to my TBR list. Flash forward a couple of months, and Jessica at Lovin Los Libros sends me a copy of this book! She's the greatest. This book follows the perspective of three teenagers - Jin, Dai, and Mei Yee. Jin is a street urchin pretending to be a boy. She is a fast runner, so she delivers things. Really, she is looking for her sister, who was sold and taken away from her years ago. Dai is a rich boy pretending to be a street vagrant. He takes jobs from the Brotherhood (think: mafia), but really, he is trying to gain access to information that will bring them - and the Walled City - down. Mei Yee is a prostitute of the Brotherhood's brothel. Longwai (head of the Brotherhood and this brothel) basically runs the city, and there is no escape for anyone. I'm not a huge fan of multiple perspectives - more than two is usually too many for me. However, I really liked this aspect of the book. Each teenager is so different, and has a different role to play. Dai and Jin intersect pretty quickly, but Mei Yee doesn't interact with either of the other two protagonists until later in the book. So it's not about each character seeing the same scene through different eyes - because most of the time, each character is in a different place at different times.  Dai finds Jin because he wants Jin to do a job with him, for Longwai (the Brotherhood kingpin). Dai is trying to get closer to Longwai so that he can get information on the Brotherhood. Jin wants to hind her sister, and she is completely sure that her sister is in the brothel. So this is how those two meet. Dai is under the impression that Jin is a boy - but not for the entire book. It's actually pretty interesting how he finds out. Reminds me of a certain Disney movie. Jin's is the first perspective we read from, so she was the one I latched onto first. Usually the first protagonist introduced is my favorite - and she definitely was my favorite. She is fearless and brave, but not without flaws and faults. Her devotion to her sister is very admirable. After years, she still hasn't given up hope. I liked Dai next. He's an interesting character, tormented by his brother's death, his brother's words to him. Dai doesn't think that he is a good person, but he is. He really is. He wants to protect and save so many people, even though he knows better - you just don't do that in the Walled City. I liked Mei Yee the least, but it wasn't really her fault. Her character is very stagnant, so I just wasn't as interested in her story as I was interested in the other two characters' stories. However, again, not her fault, since she is locked in her room in a brothel all day, waiting for her special guest to visit her when he pleases. It's so heartbreaking, her life, but I feel like she never really gives up. She's just sort of there for a while, but she isn't broken. The world-building of this book is really important and really great. I kept wondering how Graudin would make the world-building unique (a walled city seemed very cliche and overused?) - but I like how well Graudin developed her Walled City! There is so much culture and rules and dangers. The city is no joke at all. Graudin crafted the setting well indeed! The plot is definitely intriguing - I never stopped reading, and was never bored. In fact, I couldn't put the book down, and finished it in one sitting. Definitely a good sign, especially when it comes to long books.  I believe this book is a standalone? It definitely ends like a standalone, and I would love for it to "stay" a standalone. I really enjoyed this story! What I Did Not Like: I feel like things were just a little TOO perfect, in terms of how everything wraps up. Like, from the beginning, the reason why Dai is doing all that he is doing... everything is just so coincidental and lucky. Would everything have fallen into place like that if one small thing hadn't happened? I know real life totally works like that, but it messed with my head. The plausibility seemed a tad bit off to me. But then again, this is a fantasy world. I think it's fantasy? It's based on a real city in China, I believe. Would I Recommend It: I would recommend this one! I'm having a hard time pinning down the genre - it seems kind of dystopia-like, but it's really not a dystopia at all. There is no government trying to make things seem perfect. But then, it doesn't really feel like a thriller, and it's not contemporary. I'm tagging it as dystopia and thriller, but honestly, I have no idea how to classify this book. Which goes to show the uniqueness of the book, perhaps :D Rating: 4 stars. Well-deserved! This is a very original and fresh novel - I haven't read one quite so unique in a while! Props to the author!
terferj More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a really good story. I was surprised on how much I liked it. I expected one thing and got another. I expected some made up place but in reality this story is based on a real city of a different name. It's scary some of the things that went on in there but when the criminals run things, bad things happen. The story is told between Jin, Dai, & Mei Yee. Jin dooms herself to Hak Nam the Walled City looking for Mei Yee. It just showed the love she has for her sister. Searching for her in this crazy city disguised as a boy because being a girl there was not a good thing. Mei Yee was forced into a life that no girl ever wants to be put in by someone that you're supposed to trust. She starts as someone who is timid and becomes someone who is brave. Dai starts as only have 18 days to get what is needed to clear himself. What happened to him was unfortunate and it took a while in the story to get to it (that's the only thing I disliked about this story. Quit hinting and just get to the dang point). Lets not forget the cat, Chma. Even though it was a regular cat, I thought it was a great addition to the story. I just liked when the cat was in the story. There was a romance. It was very subtle but it was there. I liked that it didn't become the main focus. I liked that this is a stand alone also. So we get everything in one book. I thought it tied up very nicely. *I received this book through NetGalley*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago