The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Genre: Realistic Dystopian
Published by: Indigo
I was super excited to get my hands on The Walled City considering Wolf by Wolf was one of my absolute favourites of the year. However, this book has showed me that just because you gelled with an author on one of their books, doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to like them all. I put my distaste of this book mostly down to the subject matters – it’s not exactly what I would describe as enjoyable.
PLOT: Jin Ling has created a new identity for herself so that she can enter The Walled City in search for her older sister who was sold when she was younger to be a brothel girl. Mei Yee yearns to be anywhere outside of the small room she’s imprisoned in. She lives in a brothel and dreams of her lost younger sister. Dai doesn’t want to get out of the Walled City, he wants to take it down. He finds an unlikely aid in the super fast runner Jin, and together they try and bust the cities biggest gang.
Okay. You see that right there? Can you already tell what the problem is? Because each of the characters gets a perspective NOTHING is a surprise.
- Jin’s looking for her sister and Mei Yee has lost her sister.
- There’s a boy at Mei Yee’s window = Dai’s POV tells us he’s that boy.
- Dai’s working with another boy = Jin’s disguised herself as that boy (aka the Mulan reveal is no surprise.
See what I’m getting at? The sheer amount of dramatic irony means that I was constantly waiting for the penny to drop for the other character. It also meant that there was quite a bit of repetition in the reveals because one character might know something and tell the audience (who already knows anyway) and then the next character might do the exact same thing. The construction of the plot and the character is definitely why I struggled to get through this book. It’s over 400 pages, and I’m telling you know that could’ve been cut down. The book tries to convince you that it’s fast paced by including a count down element, because Dai has 18 days to bust the gang otherwise he has no hope.
Something to keep in mind before picking up The Walled City (other than the fact tension is NOT executed well at all) is that the book is really depressing. The Walled City is based on a similar area in Hong Kong that was thankfully destroyed.The research and atmosphere, on the other hand, is incredible (and the reason I added a half star.) I really felt like I was stuck on the streets of a city that doesn’t know light. And I pushed myself to read it just so that I could be done and get to the epilogue. Things just don’t go to plan for these characters. It’s Bad Thing after Horrible Situation. So, the tone was spot on, the pacing WAS NOT.
I feel like this review is more of a PSA for this book. Basically, it wasn’t anywhere as good as Wolf by Wolf which did everything this book did, but way more successfully. Overall, I would recommend reading Wolf by Wolf instead. But, if anything, I’ve learned a valuable lesson that not everything that an amazing author writes is going to be great. Read The Walled City at your own risk.