Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: NetGalley
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pacing: fast
POV: Alternative (3) female + masculine
Genres & Themes: YA, Dark, Thriller, Romance, Family, Survival


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.


Captivating, original, shocking, impressive and just…


I can’t believe the Walled City is actually a place that used to exist in Hong Kong. A place where lived mostly criminals, fugitives, prostitutes, gangsters, homeless kids. This is not usually the kind of story I would enjoy reading and that because it is not an ‘easy’ read. Not the kind of story that would bring a smile upon your face, let’s say. But that did not bother me, since stepping out of our comfort zone can be good from time to time. We can even discover some gems here and there. *eyes book*

I started this read thinking it would be some dystopian, maybe contain some similarities to The Maze Runner, due to the blurb. Was it? Not at all. I wouldn’t even consider this to be a dystopian story because of how realistic it felt. And since, like it or not, human trafficking and drug dealers and brothels do exist in our non dystopian world too.

The characters were very well developed. There are 3 different points of views and they all worked out perfectly with the story. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this as much, if it only contained one. We have Jin’s, Dai’s and Mei’s (Jin’s sister). They all had a different personality that made them unique and likable and especially interesting. I believe they are the ones that compelled me to keep reading the story, every time I felt like I should take a break from this overwhelming atmosphere that the story contains. I don’t mean that it was unbearable but it was just…so powerful.

When I think plot, I think events and new characters here and there, some romance in the background that would make long for something else besides for seeing my favorite characters get what they need. The Walled City has this kind of plot that will hook you with its character seeking freedom, a safe heaven and comfort, each one of them, while, at the same time, trying their best to survive. What I loved the most though was how every chapter was short but ended with this phrase that only made you want to keep reading and seeing how everything turns out.

This is exactly the kind of writing I enjoy reading! It was like the author knew her characters perfectly for I believed in each one of them. She also knew how to put in words their thoughts and make some impact when what the characters were feeling or thinking needed focus on. All three main characters felt important and easy to connect or empathize with. Especially empathize with. Even though Dai kept saying he wasn’t a good person, I had doubts because of how he was acting. He may not have been an angel, but I don’t believe him to be a bad person still.

My only complaint would be that there wasn’t a love interest for Jin Ling. At first, I thought it was going to be Dai but, when I realized he had more of a connection with someone else, was hoping Jin might get a romantic relationship with another person she might meet. Still, I can understand why she did not have the chance to, when considering the plot, so don’t be too bothered by this personal opinion.

I couldn’t say that this is a book for every reader out there….but I think that it deserves a chance, if you’re willing to give it one. Maybe you won’t enjoy the setting. Maybe you’ll think it is disturbing. But there’s also the possibility that you actually enjoy is as much as I did and end up being glad to have read it and will only want to read more of this author!

PS. It may have 400+ pages, but it was such a page-turner!

My review on Goodreads.

26 thoughts on “Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

  1. I always thought the author was male 😀 Teach me to make assumptions. But in any case, absolutely persuasive review. For a while there, I’d written this book off but I’m back on track. Can’t wait for it!


  2. I thought it was a dystopian too. I didn’t know it was based off a real place, that makes it way scarier. I was watching the DVD extras (because I love that sort of thing) on this super hero movie Push which was filmed in Hong Kong and they said people were complaining how no one reacted when the girl was kidnapped in the middle of a busy street in the movie, well those weren’t actors, but real people who didn’t know it was a movie. A girl was dragged into a van screening and they didn’t even react! I removed Hong Kong from my list of places to visit after seeing that, but it goes to show that the real world can be even scarier than a made up one. And now that I’ve gone on a completely non book related topic, this book does sound interesting and I really should branch out my genres. Nice review Lola. 🙂


  3. This book sounds amazing! I’ll definitely have to give it the time of the day. I was weary because I’ve read some other reviews about it beforehand but I’m glad you liked it so much! I’m glad that all the characters could stand their ground. That’s the type of book I love. Fantastic review, girly! <33


  4. THIS IS NOT DYSTOPIAN?! Wow! I’ve heard so many positive and awesome things about this book, and after reading your review, I think I’m going to get this ASAP. I’m definitely going to give this a chance, even though it’s not what I expected it to be, haha. I love the idea of the walled city and how criminals are part of it. Thanks for this awesome review!


  5. The cover and the blurb sure looks like it’s a dystopian book. Anyway, as long as it’s fast pace, the number of page doesn’t really matter and an interesting plot like that sounds like it will completely make you forget about the number of page. Awesome review Lola.


  6. Super excited for this one Lola!!! I know I’m likely going to want a romance for Jin as well, but I’m sure it makes sense in the context of the story for her not to have one. I’m just a sucker for romance, so I always want that to be a part of the story! Glad this worked so well for you, I can’t wait to read:)


  7. I’d seem this book around I just hadn’t really taken the time to sit back and actually read the synopsis or any reviews for it but it sound so interesting! Everything your saying makes me want to go and pick this book up right away! When we step out of our comfort zones we do usually find hidden gems in their! Great review 🙂


  8. You’ll never know unless you try, right? So, after reading your glowing review, I’m more than willing to give The Walled City a chance, and let the chips fall where they may. The length is a little daunting, but if the story flies by then the extra reading time is totally worth it IMO. I hope this title is available for pre-order though, so I don’t forget about it!


  9. I thought this would be a dystopian novel too! But seems like I was wrong this time. 😀 I’ve seen this book around but never decided whether I wanted to read it or not. 400+ is a lot! But I’m glad it’s quite a page-turner so it’ll all be worth it. Hopefully. Lovely review!


  10. First look I assumed this was another Maze Runner, I’m so surprised that this deals more with social issues. I’ll have to be in the right mood to read something like this. It’ll make it to my pile eventually, it does sound really good.

    I’m happy you enjoyed it Lola!

    Amber Elise @Du Livre


  11. Wait, wait! That place really exists?? I had no ideaaaaaa, girl. I haven’t read this book but I have heard about and about the city but I had no idea it’s based on a real thing. Wow, now I want to read it even more. I’m so happy you enjoyed it and I love books that deal with social issues. Great review, Lola 🙂


  12. I’m so intrigued by the setting and how powerful the characters and writing are! I would have liked more romance than you mentioned, but it sounds like it packs plenty of punch already. Lovely review Lola 🙂


  13. This book is right up my alley and I’ve been eyeing it off for sooooo long! It doesn’t come out in Australia yet (boo), but soon! And I’m going to snatch it up so quick it won’t see it coming! I love the fact that this book is set in Hong Kong, truly a different setting to all the Western cities we always read about. I’m all for the Eastern integration into books, as long as they’re done well, and this books seems to have pulled it off superbly. I’m not too fussed about every character having a romantic interest, I rather they didn’t most of the time, depending on the plot. Wonderful review, Lola. I can’t wait to read this one.

    Joy @ Thoughts by J


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