Friday, November 7, 2014

Me on The Walled City

Title: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

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...

The Walled City is rough, dangerous, brutal, and deadly. The people of this book are filled with fear and despair, but there are those that still hold a glimmer of hope in their hearts. The hope that one day they will be able to escape and return to the world beyond the walls.

Dai. Jin. Mei Yee. The three of them are trapped in the city and they are all desperate to escape. To live outside, to return, to no longer life a life filled with fear, pain, hardship. But they're all held prisoner. Prisoners of circumstance, of someone more powerful and ruthless, of their own decisions. This book is their coming together, their attempt at escape.

It's no secret that the author was inspired by Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City and what occurred behind those walls. I think this book does two things in terms of the setting. First, it definitely highlights the fear and the danger felt by those who lived in the real Walled City. And second, with the references to modern day culture, it certainly implies that this could happen today, that this is happening today. Drugs and gangs, human trafficking. Murder. Children running drugs for self-styled 'entrepreneurs.' Young girls sold into prostitution and being forced to have sex with men three times their age. It's the most frightening thing about this book, that something very similar to it could exist now.

This book is difficult to review. I don't want to give away too much, because it has to be read. As painful and terrifying and hard on its main characters as it is, it just has to be read.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

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