The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City was everything I was hoping it would be and more! I was drawn in by the fact that it takes place in Asia (there was an actual Walled City–Kowloon Walled City) with Asian characters. Hooray for diversity!

The book is fast-paced and suspenseful but not in a way that makes the story hard to follow. I couldn’t put the book down, and I stayed up really late on a school night just to finish reading it. It’s an interesting concept, set in a unique setting, and it’s very well executed. The setting felt so real, and it isn’t hard to picture the Walled City. Graudin’s writing brings the story to life, and it draws you into the plot.

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I absolutely love the characters and how they are written. Every one of them makes mistakes, but you can’t not cheer for Dai, Mei Yee, and Jin. And as for the characters I don’t love, I still think they’re well-written, even if I hated them. 😉 In addition, the sibling relationship between Jin and Mei Yee, which can be hard to achieve because of their circumstances but is shown through their thoughts and actions, is well-explored and is complex. I love the way it was written, and having a younger sister, I really connected with a lot of what Jin was thinking/going through because I think I would have felt the same way had I been in her position. I also enjoyed how the romance was very subtle and was secondary to the other relationships (friendships, siblings, parent/child, etc). Yes, it wasn’t the greatest romance, nor was there much to it. Normally I would hate such a relationship, but I didn’t mind it in The Walled City, likely because though it played a large role in some of the characters’ actions, it was really just a small part of the overall story.

As I mentioned, the book is fast-paced and a lot is slowly revealed as the story progresses. One of the main revelations is in regards to what the countdown is about. I enjoyed the slow reveal of the pieces that make up Dai’s story. We don’t know much at the beginning, but we slowly figure it out. The countdown was slightly annoying and/or confusing before the reveal of what it was, but I thought the reveal/explanation itself was well done.

I don’t fully understand Dai’s parents and their thoughts on the entire situation, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment much. I also wish more had happened with Bon. I loved how he redeems himself, but. And similarly, I like how readers’ feelings of Dai’s redemption comes from his actions for Jin and Mei Yee more than anything else.

Honestly, I just can’t stop thinking about the book, even though it’s been a while since I’ve finished it. I highly recommend The Walled City!

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