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.
The walled city of Hak Nam is "a place so ruthless even the sunlight won't enter," a festering cesspool in which children and teenagers are forced to murder, steal, and become prostitutes to survive. Dai Shing, trying to escape the city for reasons of his own, is ticking off the 18 days until the New Year when he partners up with Jin Ling, who is posing as a street boy in an effort to find her sister, Mei Yee. Now Jin must rescue Mei from a brothel under the control of the nefarious Brotherhood of the Red Dragon, with Dai's unwitting assistance. Graudin (All That Glows) is gifted at employing simile and other literary devices to describe the gritty surroundings and Hak Nam's criminal inhabitants, including one man with a voice "like a junkyard dog." The result is three stories deftly entwined into a fast-paced, striking tale partly inspired by the now-destroyed Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong as Dai and Jin learn to trust one another with their lives. Ages 15 up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
THE WALLED CITY is a fascinating tale of hope, survival, and love.
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Well. That was FUN! Enjoyed it just as much as I hoped I would.
THE WALLED CITY is a fascinating tale of hope, survival, and love. I adored the way Ryan Graudin wove three different character perspectives together to unveil the events of the story. The pacing was perfect and the world building and characterizations were handled masterfully.
So many recent dystopian YA books are either unoriginal or tend to fall short–this one did not. It was unique and totally exciting. Yes, this was certainly influenced by other popular dystopian reads (Maze Runner & Running Man in particular)–but it didn’t feel like a carbon copy. The author was able to bring something new to a story we’ve encountered in one form or another before.
I was also fascinated to learn this was partially inspired by the real events of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.
Definitely worth a read!
Exhilerating, heart-wrenching, and scream-worthy
A friend lent me this book at 4:00 PM, and I stayed awake until 11:30 to finish it. I could not put it out of my mind!
Ryan Graudin writes with the intensity of someone who is actually running through alleys for their life, or trapped inside a single building for years, or planning a risky escape from "this cesspool of humanity".
The Walled City is so vividly written, and combines the utmost perfect amount of answers and cliffhangers. The characters are lovable or hatable or pitiable—overall, a roller coaster of emotions. The plot is as twisted as a braid of Twizzlers. And the setting might be one of the darkest I've ever read about.
This book is something that deserves more readers. Make yourself one of them.
not a story for the faint of heart: violence, darkness, gore and danger
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.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.