Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (ARC)

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
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.
"I couldn't put the book down, and I stayed up really late on a school night just to finish reading it."

Disclaimer: I received an eARC via Netgalley. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this review.

 The Walled City was everything I was hoping it would be and more! I was drawn in by the fact that it takes place in Asia (there was an actual Walled City--Kowloon Walled City) with Asian characters. Hooray for diversity!

The book is fast-paced and suspenseful but not in a way that makes the story hard to follow. I couldn't put the book down, and I stayed up really late on a school night just to finish reading it. It's an interesting concept, set in a unique setting, and it's very well executed. The setting felt so real, and it isn't hard to picture the Walled City. Graudin's writing brings the story to life, and it draws you into the plot.

I absolutely love the characters and how they are written. Every one of them makes mistakes, but you can't not cheer for Dai, Mei Yee, and Jin. And as for the characters I don't love, I still think they're well-written, even if I hated them. ;) In addition, the sibling relationship between Jin and Mei Yee, which can be hard to achieve because of their circumstances but is shown through their thoughts and actions, is well-explored and is complex. I love the way it was written, and having a younger sister, I really connected with a lot of what Jin was thinking/going through because I think I would have felt the same way had I been in her position. I also enjoyed how the romance was very subtle and was secondary to the other relationships (friendships, siblings, parent/child, etc). Yes, it wasn't the greatest romance, nor was there much to it. Normally I would hate such a relationship, but I didn't mind it in The Walled City, likely because though it played a large role in some of the characters' actions, it was really just a small part of the overall story.

As I mentioned, the book is fast-paced and a lot is slowly revealed as the story progresses. One of the main revelations is in regards to what the countdown is about. I enjoyed the slow reveal of the pieces that make up Dai's story. We don't know much at the beginning, but we slowly figure it out. The countdown was slightly annoying and/or confusing before the reveal of what it was, but I thought the reveal/explanation itself was well done.

I don't fully understand Dai's parents and their thoughts on the entire situation, but it didn't hinder my enjoyment much. I also wish more had happened with Bon. I loved how he redeems himself, but. And similarly, I like how readers' feelings of Dai's redemption comes from his actions for Jin and Mei Yee more than anything else.

Honestly, I just can't stop thinking about the book, even though it's been a while since I've finished it. I highly recommend The Walled City!
The Walled City: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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