Monday, November 3, 2014

The Walled City ~ Ryan Graudin (earc) review [@LBKids @RyanGraudin]

The Walled City
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
November 4, 2014
432 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

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 don't know that I actually read any of what The Walled City was about prior to starting it. After how much I enjoyed Graudin's debut novel All That Glows I knew anything else by her was something I wanted to read.

The Walled City did not disappoint. In any way.

A unique, creative, compelling, intriguing and oh so readable tale, Dai, Jin and Mei Yee are all three trying to stay alive and make it through life in the Hak Nam Walled City. For Dai and Jin  who spend their days on Hak Nam's streets, violence is literally around every corner. For Mei Yee, her life involves being kept away from that outside danger, but life in the brothel has dangers all its own.

The Walled City of Hak Nam was inspired by the real Kowloon Walled City. Though you do feel very much like you're in the city while reading the novel thanks to great description, seeing images does bring it to another level.

The three main characters of The Walled City are fantastic characters. Dai and Jin both have something they need to accomplish, no matter the danger. Whether they can use each other to accomplish their goals, whether it's possible to, possibly, work together or if they need to stay alone is the question.

Both have very compelling backgrounds that make them quite different characters, yet with some remarkable similarities. The mix of what is known to the reader and what is left unknown is so very well done here, I love it. As secretive as Jin is, we know more of where she came from, of how she got to where she is now than we do with Dai. He is even more secretive, but his thoughts, feelings and some of his actions, only raise the reader's curiosity.

Along with that mix of knowing and not knowing is the secret the readers are let in on, that the characters remain unaware of. We know that Mei Yee is Jin's sister. The only question is if that information will become known and what it will mean for each character.

As a result of their circumstance, their past and what they're each trying to achieve, we learn quite about the character, personality, the ethics of each of the characters as the story progresses. It's not an easy world they live in and violence and immorality abound. Yet, even as they are a part of it, we also see who they really are.

The Walled City is a well written, well imagined tale of three young people each in a difficult situation, whose lives and tales collide in unpredictable ways. With a richly created world and characters who - their past, their present and their possible futures - bring everything together into a book you need to read.

thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for my copy to review

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