Book Club: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
The title in red slashes on a dark background. The font is reminiscent of Chinese brush-strokes, which suits the story but the cover doesn’t do the novel justice.
The story is told through three perspectives. Dai is a fugitive trapped in the Walled City until he can find a way to clear his name. Mei Yee was sold to a high-class brothel by her father. And Jin Ling is Mei Yee’s younger sister who came to the city to save her.
All of them. I really can’t choose. Jin Ling is more obviously brave, but she doesn’t have the character build up the others do. She comes into the book fully formed and never doubts her task. Both Dai and Mei Yee are more subtle in character. They’re full of uncertainty, so when they commit to an action it costs them more than it costs Jin Ling.
Ambassador Osamu. There are several awful characters in Walled City but out of all of them Osamu was the only one who seemed as though he really had a choice. He saw the suffering around him and could escape it, or help ease it. Instead he adds to it.
Jin Ling is trying to survive the harsh city streets long enough to find her sister. When Dai offers her a job that will give her access to the one brothel she has not been able to explore, she jumps at the chance. Even if it means going in to the lair of the terrifying Brotherhood.
Time is running out for the notorious Walled City, and for those who dwell within its walls. If Dai can’t broker a deal for his freedom in eighteen days, he will spend the rest of his life in a cell. If Jin Ling cannot find her sister in that same time, she will lose her forever. And Mei Yee finally needs to decide to fight for her freedom, or she will never get it back.
I could barely handle the suspense. A hundred pages from the end I almost flicked to the back to make sure no one I cared about died.
Loved it. I didn’t think I would because sex trafficking, ugh. But Ryan Graudin handled that storyline well. It wasn’t graphic or gratuitous; nor was it romanticised. What Mei Yee and the other girls went through had psychological consequences, but the novel didn’t treat the girls as nothing but psychological consequences. They had their own minds and they played their part in protecting themselves and each other.
It’s the Brotherhood’s symbol: a beast the color of luck and blood inked on the walls of every building in Hak Nam. A reminder that they own everything here. And almost everyone.
A black and red blueprint lies behind the bold red title. The rules of living in the city are in stark white and the author’s name is in a mid tone grey. It fits the tone of the book perfectly.
There is no room for innocence in the city this book is set in. Everyone has a damn good reason for you to hate them.
Jin, mainly because she’s doing the Mulan thing to track down her sister in this hell hole.
Kuen, for so many reasons, but being bully is just the tip of that iceberg
Jin needs to find her sister who was sold to feed her father’s alcoholism.
Dai needs Jin to help break open his case
In a place like this I don’t know if you could really class anything as a happy ending
The sex trade, people smuggling, drugs, gang violence, this really is no fairy tale. The Walled City was based on a real place. The issues within the pages are struggles that are all too common around the world. Ryan has done an amazing job capturing what I would imagine a place like that to feel. The tiny seed of hope is sometimes all anyone needs to get ahead. That can be a dangerous thing for those trying to suppress and control those around them.
“But I don’t want to be like my mother, either.. Waking up every morning and watching the sun rise on fresh wounds, wondering in the secret chambers of her heart if there was something more. Through the rice fields and over the mountains.”
My favorite cover is the one with white across the top and black along the bottom. Also ….there’s a dragon! The story does not have a dragon in it but represents the culture of the setting of the story.
DAI, JIN and MEI YEE. Two sisters and a boy. All looking for something. Freedom.
DAI-Mostly because I liked his back story most and his kindness.
Pretty much everybody but the three main characters. The gangs, captors and even the other girls in the house are all pretty nasty people.
We are introduced to the three different characters through chapters from their different perspectives. We soon learn that they are all players in the same game and need each other to be free again.
Dai is trying to obtain some very private information from the leader of a large crime group. If he succeeds he will have paid back his debts and can return to his family. Jin is in search of her sister who was kidnapped from her home. Mei Yee is a girl locked in a room who has a rich “suitor” that wishes to take her away from the city.
I enjoyed the ending there were some surprises that I didn’t see coming: a lot of action, danger and lives in jeopardy.
Slightly based on a real city, The Walled City is full of danger, drugs, crime, sex and money. The story touches on some things that still happen all around the world today. It’s put together nicely with three really fun characters, and I liked learning about each of them. Lots of action and hope.
“There are moments you wait for. And then there are moments you wait for. Moments you spend every other moment preparing for. Points of your life that click and turn. Push you in a completely new direction.” -Jin
Paperback, 424 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Indigo (first published January 1st 2014)
ISBN 178062199X (ISBN13: 9781780621999)