Title: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 3.97
Published: Nov, 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.
"...the Hak Nam Walled City. A recipe of humanity's darkest ingredients--thieves, whores, murderers, addicts--all mashed into six and a half acres. Hell on earth, he called it. A place so ruthless even the sunlight won't enter."
"City of Darkness. That's what the people of Seng Ngoi calls this place when they glimpse it from their penthouse apartments and high-rise offices. A black spot of slum and crime in their shining city. A better name, would be City of Pain."The Walled City is perhaps one of the grittiest YA novels out there this year. It pulls no punches. Here kids are getting killed, sold for money, put into brothels, condemned like adults by adults... It is strong, maybe for a more mature YA crowd. Overall I really liked it and the pages just flew right on by. I was intrigued by all the characters, they all had an equally important part of the story to tell. The Walled City is full of sibling love, loyalty, darkness, broken dreams, and traumatic childhoods. One heck of a ride.
"I was always stronger than Mei Yee. I knew I wasn't beautiful. My feet were tough with calluses, my skin dark, my nose too large. whenever out mother wound my hair back into a bun and sent me to the pond for water, I saw a boy's face staring back at me.Jin is inspirational. Two years ago her sister was sold by their drunken father to one of the baddest gang leaders in the Walled City. Two years ago Jin left her life behind in search of her sister. She changed, adjusted to her new reality. She is the fastest runner in the Walled City, and everyone thinks she is a boy. It is her best bet at staying alive. Girls are just taken advantage of in every step of the way. Jin is a likable character, strong, relentless, a tigress. She is a badass who just doesn't give up or walk away. If she says she is going to help you you must shut up and let her. She is my favorite character in the book, head strong and kind and just a great role model.
Sometimes I wish it were true."
"... I remember the way Jin Ling made her wishes. How she said I wish we could be together forever with the bite of a tigress. Nothing would be impossible enough to keep her wishes from being fulfilled. Not even the Walled City."
"I'm one of the lucky ones. Girls like Yin YU are forced to take in three, four men a night. The ambassador is my only client. He pays our master dearly for the favor--to have me all to himself. I don't know why he chose me out of all the girls. I just know that one day he stopped seeing the rest of them, and stopped the rest of the men from seeing me.
I'm exclusively his--cornered and prized."
The Walled City pulls no punches. Mei Yee, Jin's dear sister, was sold into the brothel and thus her line of work is prostitution. Of course she didn't choose it for herself, but the world of the City of Darkness is a scary one where no one is safe. Mei at the beginning is soft and not strong willed. Until she meets Dai and hangs on to his promise of freedom. She then starts rethinking her approach to life, and how much she is willing to sacrifice in order to see her sister again.
"The suffering is everywhere here. Crouching inside the steel workshops and weaving mills, where workers hunch over their machines for fourteen hours every single day. Threading through the corridors of strung-out prostitutes and knife-scarred youths. Lurking around the tables where drunken men toss money at one another and curse at the speed of their betting pigeons.Usually I can ignore it, look the other way, keep walking.Not this time."Dai is the ex-rich kid who committed a terrible mistake. In order to escape his nightmare Dai dives into the Walled City in look of some redemption. He spends months and months thinking up plans but nothing seems to come together until he meets Jin, the fastest person in the Walled City. Together with Jin, Dai might have a chance to redeem himself and go back home.
I liked the point POV. Each character brought something to the table and it just kept the story going at a fast pace. It also had an overall countdown which made it that much more exciting feeling that time was running out. I liked the characters, the plot, the pace... pretty much everything. The only thing I couldn't quite put my head around was how this scary ass city is supposed to only cover 6.5 acres. That is not a lot of space, but because of Ryan Graudin's constant description of the city I could very well picture this desolate place, I just somehow picture it being a tad bigger? This is however inconsequential to the overall enjoyment of the story.
I am glad this is a stand alone. While the world was incredibly well done I felt like it was perfectly done and didn't need to be overstretched. Now we get to look forward to Ryan Graudin's next book!