Note: I received a free copy of "The Walled City" from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
finally got around to reading this book after having requested it
months ago and I'm so disappointed in myself that I hadn't read it
earlier! This was a wow book.
"The Walled City" by Ryan Graudin
is set in Hak Nam, a fictionalized version of Hong Kong's very real
Kowloon Walled City which was a densely populated settlement that was a
hot bed of gambling, prostitution and drug use. And the three main
characters are involved in it all (well other than the gambling...I
don't believe there was any gambling?)
The chapters were told
from the point of view of three very different and distinct characters
who all have their own secrets. (And the author did a very good job of
keeping the sections distinct, I never forgot whose section I was
reading as I read it!) There's Dai: a boy who traffics drugs for
redemption, Jin: a young girl posing as a boy in order to find her
sister who has been sold into prostitution by their father, and Mei Yee:
a girl who has been trapped in a brothel for two years and who,
throughout the novel, learns that she has more strength than she could
have ever imagined.
Just from the book blurb I knew how two of
the characters were connected but I was very curious to know how they
were all going to meet and it was splendid. It was dark and gritty and
real and not the situation, the characters felt real as well. Every time
someone pulled out a gun or a knife or interacted with the gang leaders
I feared for the characters lives. And I was cheering them on as they
raced to beat the clock and get what they needed to get out safely.
to add to my enjoyment (though it feels wrong to say I "enjoyed" a book
with such horribly realistic dark situations like human and drug
trafficking) I also decided to do one of those 2015 book challenges and I
chose this one to qualify as my "book set in another country" because
even though Ryan Graudin changed the names of the real locations it was
very clear what city this was based on (there was even an author's note
at the end of the book) and that city was in China.