Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled CityThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Purchase: Amazon
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.
My Thoughts:
First I want to say this is upper and I mean WAY upper YA.  The things that go on throughout this book are really mature and disturbing and aren't meant for a younger audience in my opinion. 

I am honestly struggling with it being labeled as Young Adult.  I know the characters were young, but the whole storyline really felt adult.  I think it would have worked better as an adult novel because the author could have delved more into the characters and this dirty world.  I felt like things were held back and we were given just enough grit to slide under that YA radar.  I am all about authors pushing the envelope, but certain things I think should stay in adult and a brothel is one of them.

The story switches POVs which I did like.  It was interesting to see what each character was going through and how it affected them.  I always cringed when I would read Mei Yee's chapter because she was the one in the brothel. Even though the scenes weren't explicit I could still grasp what was going on and my heart would just break for her every time.  The other girls in the brothel had it just as bad some even worse and I started reading with one eye closed because I just couldn't take it anymore.  Jin and Dai were who I craved reading about.  I loved Jin's fierceness and loyalty to her sister.  She did what she had to do to survive and I really connected with her.  Dai I felt like needed redemption.  He was a great character that I rooted for even though a lot of his past he was responsible for.  He was trying to right a wrong and I respected that. 

I had two big problems with this book though.  One being the romance.  I didn't buy it at all and maybe this is just me realizing I don't want romance in my books anymore.  Do I like steam yes yes I do, but I am starting to crave books where the romance is just not there or heavily in the background.  I don't really know why that is but that's where I am headed in my reading life.  When I picked The Walled City up I expected it to be gritty and something all together different.  It was don't get me wrong, but I felt like the romance cheapend it.  It just wasn't needed and I don't think a girl living in a brothel would fall head over heels for a guy so fast.  Mei Yee needed to recover and find herself before those feelings surfaced in my opinion.  Did she need Dai yes she did, but I would have liked their relationship to have started out as something entirely different.

My other problem was the world. I don't understand why Hak Nam was left to rot.  Why didn't the criminals there take over other cities? What kept all the violence in one area?  Why didn't people leave?  This world needed more explaining in the first few chapters.  I still don't understand why Hak Nam was what it was.  I wish the author would have focused on this rather than the romance.  If that had happened I am pretty positive this read would have been a 5 for me.

Okay I know I had lots of problems with this one, but I did like it overall. I thought the story was unique and it really held me captivated.  I didn't want to let certain characters go at the end and I did find myself wanting more.  I also really liked the authors writing style.  I can't explain it but it definitely grabbed me and never let me go.  This is why I am going with a 3.5.  Even with the problems I am still glad I read this and it is something different which is awesome.

3.5 snowflakes


  1. I liked this one! I gave it four stars, which is pretty close to 3.5 stars. I like Graudin's books, but of the two I've read, I think I liked this one better? I'm not too sure on the details you mentioned (like why the city was left to rot), but I kind of just rolled with it (which I usually don't do, but eh). Good questions you raise. I'm excited about the film rights sale though.

    Fabulous review, Crystal!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I didn't know she had other books out. I might have to look into her other ones because I did like the writing. And I didn't know anything about the film rights! I think this would make a really great movie! Thanks for the heads up!

  2. i read lots of review about this book and my decision have not changed "not going to read it after all" lovely review :)

    1. Thanks alreem. It's definitely one of those books where either you'll love it or hate it. I hope you love it if you do end up changing your mind =)