[Review] The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Series: None
Publication: November 4th, 2014 by Little Brown Publisher
Number of Pages: 432
Genre: YA, Historical, Fiction
Source: School library
Rating: ★★

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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.


Two words. Utter disappointment.

I’m pretty sure this was probably the book I was the most excited about during the entirety of 2014. I was intrigued by the interesting idea and the oriental setting. The phrase on the front – “Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife,” held promise of a hugely exciting read.

Yeah, well it took me weeks to even finish this book.

The first problem I had was definitely the writing. It was flowery, identical for every single person, and way ridiculously choppy. There were similes on similes that made no sense and provided no aid to the progression of the novel. There was insta-love (blargh) that I abhorred. Love at first sight, I guess you could say.

With that I found the book rather cheesy. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I read a sentence with the word “hope” and “help” in it.

“We need more help!”

“Don’t lose hope!”

Please. Just shoot me now.

The book itself would not have been bad at all, if it wasn’t for the disappointing writing. The simultaneously choppy and flowery in a way that made the story stilted and bland. I didn’t like it at all. I will say that every now and then, there was a great sentence though. Among all the flowery, purple prose, there was occasionally a well-written lyrical sentence that I liked.

Clearly, a lot of research went into this novel. The names, environment, and overall feel of the book was definitely reminiscent of a gritty, dark, and dangerous setting. These characters gave the book a little spark of life that made it much easier to read along. I liked this aspect of research. I do have one little complaint though.

During one part of the book, one of the characters eats a baozi. In English, a stuffed meat bun. The logical way to eat it, if you want to savor the entire food without losing any of the juices and nutrients, would be to carefully hold it and eat it like a hamburger. That way, the food doesn’t get all over your hands and you don’t drop any of it.

The character on the other hand, decided to rip apart the bun and allow the juices to run all over their arms. Besides the fact that nobody I know eats it this way, I also find it wholly unrealistic for a character that is practically starving to risk losing any of the food by ripping it apart. It makes more sense to eat it by simply biting into it. I have an inkling that the author may have just done it for dramatic effect.

Mini-rant over.

Overall, if writing doesn’t bother you at all, I would say to just go for it! The book has a decent plot that picks up about halfway through. However, I personally didn’t like the ending. It felt cheesy and unrealistic to me in a way that felt strange.

This is a slightly shorter review but it pretty much covers my opinion on the book. I’m really unhappy that I didn’t like the book, especially I was so excited to read it. Alas, I may have overhyped myself 😦 Has that ever happened to you?


  1. There are people who are superb at composing music who should also probably avoid paying it. It sounds like you’ve just found the literary equivalent of that. At some point, you just have to say, “Thank you for creating this vibrant universe of possibility, Mr/rs/x Writer. You have built a setting within which I want to experience many fantastic tales of bravery and daring written by someone with the talent to flesh out the narrative your world deserves. Do you know anyone like that?”


  2. UGH. I hate it when characters use utterly cliche sentences like that. Seriously?! “don’t lose hope”??? ERGH. I’m okay with choppy writing, but those sentences are enough to make me thoroughly dubious.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This puts what I was thinking into words! Like yes I loved the setting and was ecstatic that I would possibly get a gritty, amazing historical fiction novel! But then everything else just made me disappointed.
    I don’t think I’d have the balls to say that to an author’s face but I’m imagining the sarcasm and attitude and absolutely loving it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry the book’s execution ultimately left loads to be desired. I’ve always been slightly obsessed with the Kowloon’s walled city ever since I found out about it, but I was turned off by all the lukewarm reviews. Your review pretty much confirms that the writing style is definitely not my thing!

    Liked by 1 person

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