The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publication Date: November 6th 2014
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
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.
The Walled City is not a bad story. It has an important story to tell. Keep that in mind throughout this, but I don't think that story was highlighted as much as it should have been and was dragged down by other perspectives and a lot of inner monologue we didn't really need. For the first half, from each perspective, we basically had the same things happening, the same thoughts going on a loop that didn't seem to end up going anywhere. Like I said, it isn't a bad story, it has the foundations there to be that important story, but instead it only touched upon it.
If you know nothing about Kowloon Walled City and don't even know The Walled City was based on Kowloon Walled City (like I did) , then it will be very confusing (like I was) and this affected how I felt about it. I love learning about knew places and worlds, it's what I've grown to love about Dystopians and Fantasy but considering it was inspired by an actual then-was place, it felt more Historical than Fantasy, and since there was no before-the-world-went-to-shit or even mention of a before, it didn't feel like a Dystopian either, it blurred the lines for me, and there wasn't much information on the place and felt like it leaned too much on you knowing about Kowloon Walled City to keep you reading. I still liked the setting though, and it's richly detailed and quite shocking. This was the thing I loved about The Walled City, but unfortunately, the only thing I loved about it.
I'm a character person, I've said it before and I'll always say it, if I can't connect to the characters, and considering we have three perspectives, if I can't connect to at least one character, you and me book, aren't going to get along that well. Point and case here. I couldn't connect to the characters, even with them all being in a bad place both psychically and mentally. Even when the sad stories are exchanged and we get to know the characters more, I still felt nothing, and there is so much focus on them that it made me dislike them more if I'm honest, because I wanted a connection and just didn't get it. I tolerated the Jin and Dai's perspectives, but where I actually wanted to like Mei Yee's perspective and her part of the story-which is the issue that could've been highlighted more-I couldn't like it even if I tried. Look, the girls basically a prostitute, she's not doing this willingly, she lives in a brothel, stuck in a room with a constant threatening loom, waiting for an old guy, which in all is repulsive and rape, but the first time she sees a young guy, she's all oh yes from the very second she sets eyes on him. I get it, it's the hope, but from the start, she felt more than hope for him, and I felt sick reading that more than the repulsive scenes because it's just wrong.
My main problem with The Walled City, despite the characters, is how bored I felt reading, like I said, it's richly detailed and I usually love that but in some places it's excruciatingly detailed to the point that you could skip a few paragraphs and it would still be the same story. I seem to be saying that a lot lately.
If you want something different, this is your book. This is my own opinion and tastes in full effect here, and others will think different, others have thought different. If you want a positive review from someone who enjoyed it, read Lola @ Hit or Miss Books review.