The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.walled
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. –

Somehow I missed this book the first time it was offered on NetGalley, but was lucky enough to get it right before publication and I’m so glad I did.

The characters in this book were put in situations involving drug-trafficking, sex-trafficking, poverty, physical abuse, hunger – it wasn’t a rainbows and unicorns type of book.  That being said, these characters were just amazing, but if I had to choose my favorite, it would be Jin.  First of all, anyone who takes in a stray cat gets bonus points in my book.  Although the younger sister, from early on, Jin was protecting her older sister, Mei Yee, and never gave up on finding her.  On her own, she had to learn how to survive in horrible circumstances, relying on no one but herself, and then learn how to trust again when she met Dai.  Jin was such a strong, admirable character.

Dai’s character development was also interesting as he transformed from someone whose only focus was on getting himself out of the walled city at any expense, to someone who put virtual strangers’ safety and future ahead of his own.

And part of that was something I found difficult to buy into.  I understood the connection between Dai and Jin, partly because Jin reminded him of his younger brother, but the relationship between Dai and Mei Yee seemed to develop far too fast, especially given the fact that every man Mei Yee had ever met had never shown her kindness or given her reason to trust them.

The book alternated between three POV’s, but I thought it was essential to the story and helped the reader fully understand each character’s circumstances.  I’ve been reading a lot of series lately and it was nice to wrap up the story in one book, as this is a standalone.

The setting was dark and gritty, as was the story, for the most part, but this was a fast-paced, suspenseful read.  The Walled City is scheduled for publication November 4, 2014.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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