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review 2015-10-15 04:24
The Walled City
The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

When I first chose this book from NetGalley, I was expecting a dystopian thriller. Instead, it has the feel of a thriller, but takes place in some vague contemporary time, and is based on an actual walled city in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Honestly, I wish I had googled that before I read the book, but it is a credit to the author that the images she evoked were at least as good as what I saw later online. I say this because the actual city is stunning – not in beauty, but in the sheer number of buildings stacked up against each other and cobbled together in what is called the densest place on earth. Take a minute now and google it yourself and then come back.

 

Can you believe it? It’s crazy! I stayed in a walled city in Tuscany, so that’s really what I thought of as I read this book, but it was nothing like the menacing, crime-filled streets of Hak Nam Walled City. The oddest thing is that the city beyond, where life seemed to go on as usual, was, in contrast, boring and ordinary; the walled city was a lord of the flies ghetto. The one disconnect for me was the fact that it wasn’t all criminals there – it was also filled with the unfortunate poor, and there were pleasant-seeming images of people eating in restaurants that just seemed out of place with these destitute, desperate characters. It took me a while to adjust to the fact that there was a hierarchy even here, and that the characters described as vagrants were the lowest of the very low who populated the walled city.

 

The story is told from three points of view, and, for the most part, I thought each character was well developed and compelling. I did think they possessed some generic traits, and there was a little rehashing of some old familiar plots, but the story was told well, and I thought it moved very quickly. There were a few scenes that slowed the action, but not enough to be a distraction.

 

I am not sure of the appropriate age recommendation on this. It is listed as YA, but there are a lot of topics that might be a little too edgy for the youngest teens, i.e. one of the three main characters lives and works in a brothel run by a drug lord. But the story is so much more than this, I would hate for that to be a deterrent. It is really just a classic tale of greed, hurt, sacrifice, and hope; and of course, in the end, redemption.

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review 2015-05-27 17:48
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

 

Mei Yee was sold into the sex trade by her drunken father. She is kept separate from the other girls.  The only person she sees besides the girls who take care of her room and Mama-san is her exclusive customer, the Ambassador.  Mei Yee is expected to accept this is how it’s going to be the rest of her life. Mei Yee still has hope, though. She dreams of finding her sister again. She pictures them by the ocean. A place they’re never seen, but one that still gives her a safe place feeling.

 

Her younger sister, Jin, has run off to find her. In order to survive the murders, gangs, and thieves of the Walled city, Jin has to live as a boy. She has been nimble in body and mind since a young age due to her father’s rages.  Her quick thinking and speed have kept her alive, but they are not enough. The city is huge and full of brothels.  She has been able to check out most of them on her own, but now she needs help. She believes she may have finally found where her sister is being kept. There’s only one problem. It’s run by the deadliest gang in the city, The Brotherhood.

 

Dai is in the city due to Reasons.  These Reasons call for him to get in with the Brotherhood. He has a plan, but in order to work, he is going to need a partner. Someone fast and who can think on their feet. He’s just met Jin and thinks “he” may be perfect.

 

The Walled City is told in three alternating POVs.   Mei Yee and Jin both held my attention better the Dai. His character had an artificial feel while Mei Yee and Jin felt natural. The world building was hit and miss, but overall not bad. It was the story itself that brought my rating down. It took me over a month and a half to finish this book. The story was never exciting enough to hold my attention for more then ten to fifteen minutes at a time. If this hadn’t been an ARC it would have been a DNF.

 

**Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for providing this in exchange far an honest review**

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review 2015-03-25 00:00
The Walled City
The Walled City - Ryan Graudin I flew through this book in about four days, which was about 100 pages a day and oh my goodness. The story is set over 18 days, with a countdown as chapter titles, it was very dramatic! And has three characters, each in a very different situation within The Walled City. Jin Ling, who just wants to find her sister. Dai, who has a mysterious past and a plan to get out. And Mei Yee, who has been sold into prostitution and just wants to stay alive. The Walled City actually existed too, you can read about it here.
A issue I've seen a few people have with this book is the frequent use of metaphors, but I picked this up right after reading 150 pages of The Handmaid's Tale and in comparison, this book does metaphors much more smoothly. It feels polished and doesn't jar the reading. In fact, this is one of the first books in a while where it felt more like I was watching the story, rather than reading it.

Review originally posted on Imogen’s Typewriter.
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review 2015-03-03 00:00
The Walled City
The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

Dear Curvy Blogger
As a rule, I’m typically drawn to the romance within the plot (hello, romance junkie here), but The Walled City was an exception to the rule. In fact, I wasn’t really all that intrigued by the romance between Mei Yee and Dai. I didn’t connect with Mei Yee until about 60% of the way in, when she really stops accepting her life as it is and begins dreaming of more that the prison. What drew most of my attention was the budding friendship between Dai and Jin – and the love between the two sisters (not a romantic love, a sisterly love) that causes Jin to make such foolish but brave decisions.

The Walled City is a pretty accurate description of Hak Nam – or the real-life name that The Walled City is inspired by, the Kowloon Walled City that resided within Hong Kong until it was torn down in the early nineties. It was a first a military city, but over time became known as sun-less, ungoverned enclave overrun by gangs, brothels, and drugs.

In The Walled City Hak Nam was controlled by the Brotherhood, an extremely dangerous gang (though it seems bigger than a gang, I can’t find a better word to describe it) lead by a vicious drug lord called Longwai. I realize I should be disgusted by the fellow as he’s committed atrocious crimes – child prostitution, violent murders, and more – but he makes an entertaining villain. It was fun watching Dai subtly manipulate the man, I just wish he (Longwai) had a bigger part in the story and not a faceless boogeyman for a lot of the book. I think it would have been fun to add his own POV to the mix.

Did I mention the book is written in first person and alternates between three points of view – the three main characters – every chapter? This is one of my first reasons for waiting four months to read the book, because I am just not that into alternating POVs. Thankfully, it worked in The Walled City’s favor and really brought the book to life, showing us Hak Nam through the eyes of three very different people and conflicts, and yet they all see the city the same way: a prison of horror. It also made it easier to connect with the characters, even if it took longer for me to connect with Mei Yee. Kudos for Graudin’s talent in somehow taking something I normally hate in fiction and bringing it to life. That alone deserves a five-star rating!

Let’s Chat Characters


My favorite character from the book is Jin. How can it be anyone else? She represents the good, the knight in shining armor we’d all wish to be. Jin is no more than 15 (I’m thinking 13 or 14, but I can’t be for sure) but she’s always been the defender of her household. When her abusive father would try to turn his fists on Jin’s mother or older sister, she would get in the way. She never stopped fighting and never stopped hoping. She’s brave and makes foolish mistakes – but she makes them in the rescue of the underdog.

Several time it is mentioned that the only way to stay alive in The Walled City is to keep your head down and look the other way, but I call bullshit. It might save you own skin, but it will eventually make you dead to empathy and pain, which is something Jin never becomes. I think most of us would relate well with Jin, even if she isn’t the most realistic character ever. There is something in her character that we could all relate to, plus she totally kicks ass and wicked cool. :D

the walled city quote 1
Dai was my second favorite character, even though he was a selfish prick for a lot of the novel. He was worse than dead to empathy, he chose to ignore the cries of others to save his own skin. I eventually realized he is not the bad person he convinced me he was, he’s just lost in his guilt and the death of his brother and wants more than anything to be out of the city that reminds him of his sins. I liked that I could see him grow as a person the more he gets to know the girls. He’s one of those complex characters that you don’t truly get to know unless you can read between the lines.

Why is Mai Yee my least favorite character? She’s not really. I wound up feeling proud of her the closer to the end I got, but I just couldn’t connect as well with her as I could with her little sister, Jin. Or even her love interest Dai. I think she reminded me of my own weaknesses and nobody likes to be reminded of their faults.  She did wind up nabbing my heart, but it almost took ‘til the end of the book for her to stand up and fight for her freedom – I’m not sure I could have done that were I in her place.

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I realize that this review was too long. Sorry to keep gushing about The Walled City but I can’t help but love it to pieces. Don’t blame me, blame Ryan Gaudin. She wrote the book! I urge all whom has yet to read this – pick up a copy NOW! I hope you won’t be intimidated by the all the imagery and just read it. Let me know how it went for you and please don’t kill me for having wrote almost 1000 words for this review.

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If you liked this review, please consider up voting it on Amazon. Thank you <3
This review was originally posted on One Curvy Blogger

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review 2015-02-05 21:19
The Walled City
The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

Title: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Rating: 4 Stars.

Okay, this book was hard to rate. I really liked the 3 separate stories.

Dai's story was confusing at first, i wasn't sure where he was gonna go towards the end. Then his past is revealed and it wasn't what i thought the author was trying to hint at during the earlier parts of the book. Overall, he was a good character :]

Jin's story was very good. Under cover as a boy to prevent being taken into a brothel, she is on a quest to find her sister who was sold by their father to a brothel! She has it really rough during the last part of the book, she's a very strong person.

Mei Yee is in a brothel, but because of a certain person that pays for her "vists" she only has to deal with that one man. I'm not sure i could do that but she seems to live the life she can.

I struggled for a bit in the middle of this book, but then some serious action started to go down and i finished it quickly.

The only issue i really had was that i was very confused on what time period this was supposed to be. They have cars but the brothel seem to only have lanterns.

Overall, a good book that opens up the world of the real Walled City.

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