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.
Title: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Genre: Dark-theme, Teen Reads, Thriller
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 28 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦Audible
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 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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.