Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Genres: YA | "Dystopia" | Romance
Published: November 4th 2014
Publisher:  Little, Brown
My rating: 
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.

I had a hard time with this book. It's not exactly that it was despicable, but it took me an agonizingly long time to make sense of anything.

The Walled City has a setting based on the actual Kowloon City of Hong Kong, once a military fort, but turned into a gruesome place full of abominations. I think the author managed to perfectly portray the grim, dark nature that would belong to such a city. With no doubt, the world building was a solid one for me although it moved the story towards realistic fiction and away from dystopia/post-apocalyptic. 

Despite the interesting premise, I eventually found myself facing the one visitor no one likes much: boredom. The thing is that, even when things were happening, the slow pacing made the action sequences somewhat dull and draggy in the way that made me want to skim read.

This is also a very character-driven novel. For me, the characters were mediocre and not particularly remarkable. I did pity their terrible lives, but I just didn't connect to anyone beyond the pity wall and I blame the writing style more than anything else. *

The one character I had high hopes for was Mei Yee. Then she decides to make a guy on the other side of the window her one ray of hope after exchanging a few words with him. (His beautiful eyes probably had a lot to do with why). I wanted to throw my little ball of disappointment, disgust and sadness at her for not being as witty as I expected her to be.

* The writing wasn't what I would call writing with a flow to it. The descriptions were often too big in quantity -- less in quality, and all it did was make the story even more spun-out than it already was. All those metaphors put Augustus Waters to shame.

The one thing that kept me going was the interesting premise I stated above. I didn't make deep connections with the ongoings of the story, but I was still held captive by the interesting topics explored within.

The Walled City was a mix of slow plot execution, mediocre characters that were hard to connect with, writing full of overly dramatic segments overweighed by a very interesting premise and great world building.

I would only recommend this book to the curious cats out there.

What are your thoughts on  The Walled City?
Have you read it or do you want to?
Spill 'em beans, my friends.