Published by Little Brown
Published on November 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.
There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife.
That line alone got me going when I started The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. I thought, Hey, this book’s got promise. So I delved into the lives of Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee.
The fact that the story was set in Asia, with Asian characters, made it more interesting for me. It was easy for me to imagine how the walled city looks like. The dirty slums, the mossy walls, and the vagrants that are scattered around the city – these are scenes that I have seen in real life.
If you can’t imagine it, here are some shots from this documentary about the Kowloon Walled City by the Wall Street Journal. The author, Ryan Graudin, definitely captured the descriptions of the walled city in his book. There is no world-building in this book. It was based off of the real Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. So don’t look for any world-building, but still, I was satisfied with how the author described the nooks and crannies of the walled city that he created for Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee.
Although Dai, Jin, and Mei Yee’s lives in the book are fictional, the events that happened in the book were very real. They still exist in the world we live in, and it makes it all the more horrific to know that there are kids being used for different crimes, such as drug-trafficking, sex-trades, human trafficking, among others.
I was transported into Dai, Jin, and Mei Yee’s eyes while reading the book. I could imagine the cold that Jin felt while trying to survive living with just a tarp and her cat. The hunger pangs that she had to endure day after day, and the fear that she can die any time by the hands of Kuen’s gang. But she had to survive, she had to find her sister. Dai is simply living off his guilt. He crossed paths with Jin, and he doesn’t know that Jin also holds a secret – Jin is a she.
Yes, there is romance in this book, and it was slow-building, and it was beautiful. But it wasn’t the main focus of the story. You can treat it as an added bonus.
Throughout the book, I was thrown among three different point-of-views, but it did not deter me from reading because all three of them have a distinct voice. It wasn’t hard to differentiate the characters in their own POVs, which some authors have a hard time of doing. This book can actually be made into a movie and I will definitely watch it.
Some things are worth the hurt.
All the hurt and sacrifices that Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee experienced, did end up in happy endings. Although it did take a lot of work to rebuild a person’s life, when you are determined to move forward, it all works out.
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