Author: Ryan Graudin
Synopsis: There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.
Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.
Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!
This book is beautiful and dark and dirty and sexy and terrifying. I loved the setting, loved the writing, loved the atmosphere and the plot. The characters worked for me, and I loved their relationships, but I didn’t really connect with them. Also, this book is told from multiple POVs, which is something I am never a fan of. It was okay, and I didn’t get lost in the voices, so that was nice.
The biggest issue I had with this book is the lack of world building. Apparently the Walled City was a real place, located in Hong Kong. I REALLY wish that this would have been a part of the story. I have very little background in China and Hong Kong’s history, and I really don’t know how many other people are going to know that this was a real place. The first half of the story had me struggling with a time (it seemed very historical… like I kept picturing Edo-era Japan) and when modern things (cars, guns, airplanes) started getting thrown in I was like WHOA. So yeah, some history would have been REAL nice.
And because I spent the first half of the book thinking that it was a historical setting I had A LOT of trouble wrapping my head around all of the modern stuff that came up later, and even picturing it taking place in modern times. And whenever Dai would use some modern slang or phrases I was jarred out of the book and I really hate it when that happens.
Another thing that bothered me was how there were never any mentions of actual places. There were fictional city names, but then there were vague references to ‘the homeland’ or ‘his country’ and like… the Ambassador has a Japanese name, so I’m thinking that he’s from Japan, but anytime his country is referred to it’s very vague and I don’t know why it was done this way. It was another thing that unsettled me when trying to anchor this story into a place and time.
Overall though this is worth reading for the beautiful writing and the dark setting alone.