Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan GraudinThe Walled City
Ryan Graudin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on September 8, 2015

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About The Walled City
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…..

My Review
You know how once in a while a book blows you away? This is one of those books for me. It wasn’t even one specific moment, it was like, the way all the pieces merged together as a story. I immediately connected with the characters. The setting intrigued me from even before I picked up the book. I’d heard Ryan Graudin speak at Read Up Greenville in 2016 and her description of the real place that inspired this story had me hooked. The real place, a stacked slum of a city, an area just over 6.5 acres, housed 33,000 people. Like… I can’t even get my head around that, really.

I think I read The Walled City in just over 24 hours, which is pretty unusual for me these days! It kept me on the edge of my seat. It made me hope harder than any book I’ve read this year. I loved it, and I would read it again, recommend it to others, shout it from the rooftops.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I think the fact that the setting is based on a real place will make this an interesting read. Fans of fast-paced contemporary stories will enjoy the quick-moving plot and high stakes. Softies like me will love the characters, especially as their relationships with each other develop and change them. Also, it has a great cat!

Walled City on AmazonRecommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
The story occurs in an area modeled after Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. Characters are Asian—some Cantonese and some Japanese names.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently. I think Dai might be the only one who swears, and it’s not very often. More in the beginning and then a few times toward the end.

Romance/Sexual Content
Mei Yee has been sold into prostitution. A client visits her, but the details are vague and focus more on her emotional state and how she survives rather than description of the events between her and the man in her room. Those few scenes still feel pretty intense, though.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Men beat a prostitute who has tried to escape her traffickers. Boys gang up on another youth, intending to beat or stab her. At one point, a boy cuts a cat with his knife. A young man uses a gun to shoot at enemies. Again, it’s the intensity of the emotion associated with these scenes which makes them so intense, not so much any graphic descriptions of violence.

Drug Content
Traffickers use heroin to subdue a young woman and prey on her addiction to keep her helpless. They use the threat of injecting heroin to control other girls who fear being drugged and becoming addicted.

Walled City on Goodreads


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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