The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The Walled City Showcase
The Spotlight Book Club is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book online book club with readers like us all over the world. Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will post a selection of mini-reviews (ranging from one of us to all of us) along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!
January’s selection was The Walled City by Ryan Graudin!
730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….
JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….
MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..
In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.
And now for the reviews!
I started The Walled City on a school night (possibly not a brilliant idea) and stayed up later than I had planned (already not good things happening) and then finished the book the next day during French class (I’m seeing a pattern here). It was absolutely incredible and even better than I had expected. The plot is incredible. Graudin does a fantastic job of switching between points of view, building tension and momentum with each chapter. You see the characters grow into even stronger versions of themselves over the course – especially in Mei Yee’s case. One of my favorite things about the book is the setting. Based on the real Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong which existed from the 50’s to 70’s, the world of the Walled City revolves around drugs, prostitution, severe poverty, and numerous gangs – especially made of children. Graudin brings the world to life in front of your eyes, subtly explaining the history of the city, using Dai as a vessel for this. It’s an incredibly well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to fans of dystopian novels who love a heart-pounding adventure story. You can find my full review coming February 13th on Willa’s Ramblings here.
I wish I could say The Walled City starts off with a bang, but it doesn’t. The plot actually begins somewhat slowly – from the blurb, readers learn that each character wants to get out of the Walled City and that they only have 18 days to do so, but we don’t find out the reason for the time constraint until halfway through the book. Until then, the story can be difficult to get into, as we are not sure exactly what the characters are trying to do and why we should be cheering for them. However, the plot’s plodding exposition is not all bad. The author uses the beginning to craft an amazing and unique setting – like Willa said, it truly comes to life, and the fact that it is based on a real place is fascinating. Even better, when the intense action does start, it is so satisfying. If you are struggling to get into The Walled City initially, I completely understand, but I highly recommend powering through until the 50% mark – you will be glad you did. Look for my full review coming soon to my personal book blog, Forever Literary.