November 20, 2014

Latest Read: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publication date: Nov. 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Thriller/Adventure
Source: Received ARC at BEA
Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
The Walled City was a fast-paced, engaging, saddening and intense book. And then, I found out it was based on a real place. Well, you can imagine how my jaw dropped when I saw that little tidbit in the acknowledgments. It further elevated what I found to be a really dark and well-told story. The book is told from three different point-of-views and each character is given equal weight which I really liked. There's Dai, a boy with secrets trying to escape not only his past but the Walled City. His new job trafficking drugs for the City's most ruthless kingpin might be his ticket out but to do the job, he needs a partner. And that partner is Jin. Jin snuck into the Walled City with the sole intention of finding her sister and getting them out. But it's been two years of pretending to be a boy, barely surviving and searching and she hasn't had any luck yet. Her sister, Mei Yee was sold to a brothel within the City and has all but given up on the thought of freedom until someone on the outside starts to give her hope. Dai, Jin and Mei Yee's lives become intertwined in ways none of them see coming.

This book is just gripping. It's impressive how the author manages to suck you right in to these people's lives. I wanted to know why they got there, how were they surviving living in such dire circumstances and most importantly, how were they going to get out. We first see Dai and Jin team up, neither knowing the truth of each other's past and using each other for their own devices basically. But we know their truths and I rooted for the growing camaraderie that stems between them. Mei Yee feels a little separate at first but between her memories and Jin's, there's a strong sense of their closeness and how Jin has always protected Mei Yee despite being the younger sister. There was something very heartwarming about that. Which was much needed with all the darkness surrounding them, especially Mei Yee. Even now, thinking about the reality of her situation makes me shudder. Adding to the urgency is the way the chapters include a countdown. I can't tell you what they're counting down to but the author's words makes you feel the time ticking and I raced through the pages eager to find out how it would all end.

(Teeny tiny) reservations
A relationship springs up in the book that I think needed a bit more interaction for me to feel more invested. But otherwise, no reservations here!

Do I recommend?
I do! For some reason I thought this was going to be a dystopian novel and it actually kind of reads like one except it's based on real circumstances. I highly recommend!

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What would your survival skill be?
I think I would want my survival skill to be related to food. Whether it's hunting for it, knowing what's edible or how to cook just about anything. I'm just saying.. I know I will not survive without a meal so to me, that's probably at the top of my list of necessary skills. 

1 comment:

  1. We could totally team up when it comes to surviving in a place like the walled city! I think we'd make a great pair ;) That aside, I really liked The Walled City too! It's not the easiest book to read, as the characters go through such tremendously terrible things. But it's really compelling!

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