Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Walled City

By Ryan Graudin


The Walled City on Goodreads is described as:

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your kni
fe. 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 run 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.


I was given The Walled City as a surprise ARC from the Guardian, so I had no idea what this book was about. I’m so thankful for being given it to read, as I’m convinced if given a choice, I don’t think I would’ve picked up this book as it’s not my usual type of book, and I would’ve been deprived of the experience of reading The Walled City!


The Walled City was not at all what I expected. It feels dystopian, with its superb descriptions of this dilapidated, starless, overcrowded city. You feel like a place such as this couldn’t EVER exist now, surely not, but then you read the authors note. The Walled City is based upon Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. This isn’t set many years in the future, outside the walled city; there is society just like todays. This just adds more awe and depth to the book as you realise this story could be true, many, many children and teenagers could’ve been in the characters positions. I think it’s wonderful that Graudin has called to attention the subject of The Walled City; I didn’t know anything about one, id never heard of a Walled City before this book. I’m grateful for the knowledge this book has bestowed on me.


The storyline jumps straight into the action. There’s no escape, once you start you’re pulled into the lives of these characters. It’s just so easy to read, you’re not struggling or pushing yourself through parts. You’re right there beside Jin running through the streets.

The characters are brilliantly written, they’re consistent, layered and unique. Each is damaged in their own way and you immediately start routing for their happiness. The character of Dai believes himself a horrible person, wracked with guilt, but instead of agreeing with him and disliking him, you become convinced he is a good person you want him to prove himself because he’s capable of it.

Each of the characters is linked to one another in a sort of triangle without initially realising it, so it’s great to read the gradual build up to the reveal while you know the truth.


I like that the books end is happy, as the characters deserve the happiness they receive, but at the same time, it feels a little unrealistic. Having a near-death scene for one of the characters seemed like a method of trying to get away with not killing any of the characters rather than a crucial plot point. I think maybe that the near-death character should’ve died, which might’ve made the ending less happy but feel more real.


The subject of the book makes it a hard hitting novel, it’s not an easy fun read. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be revisiting The Walled City for a reread! I love that the book is a stand-alone too, so many YA books are part of a series, so it’s nice to read something different that has the same richness of characters and storyline, but contained in one book. I would recommend The Walled City to anyone and everyone.


A beautiful tale of love and loss in the everyday fight to survive The Walled City. I would give The Walled City 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to the Guardian Teen Website for allowing me an ARC of The Walled City.





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