Saturday, February 14, 2015

{BookTalk} The Walled City: Ryan Graudin

Rating: 83%
Series: None
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult, Fiction, 
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Page Count: 424
Format: Hardcover
Source: Strand Books 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Disclaimer: Sometimes you read a book and you NEED to discuss all of your spoilery feels surrounding it. The spoilers in this review are clearly marked with asterisks, so you may skip over those sections if you do not want to be spoiled.

Background & Backstory?
I had heard a lot of prepublication buzz about this book and loved the simplicity of the cover, but hadn't considered reading it until one of my best book BFFs of all time Nath from Codes and Writes raved about it. I respect her opinion surrounding books quite a lot and she talked so highly of this book that I made my parents get it for me for Christmas during our trip to Strand Books in NYC. 

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
I'm not sure how I feel about this book.

Plot - Premise - Originality | 98% You have to admit that this book has an awesome premise. At a glance, it seems like The Walled City is a brilliantly crafted dystopian science-fiction novel, but in actuality, the publisher considers it realistic fiction because of the different elements of the world that are perfectly legitimate to consider in our present day 21st century state. The way a brilliant premise is executed is usually what I criticize most in a novel, but Graudin did it flawlessly. Not once did I feel as if I had read this kind of story before, and I enjoyed the asian elements the book possessed as well. 

Characters | 90% The Walled City had some of the most complex, unique characters I have ever read about that could rub heads with character of Legend by Marie Lu. We had Dai who I described to Nath as "A Day-like character with a June-like upbringing," which means that was sarcastic, intelligent, athletic, and had a mysterious past. He was my favorite as well as the strongest character during the story as well as the instigator during most of the story. Then there was Mei Yee who was such a broken character forced to survive extreme circumstances no human should, and she came out of the experiences without her soul being crushed. And finally there was Jin who was stubborn and determined and hadn't let her truly crappy life get in the way of her light.

Relationships | 70% Something Nath brings up a lot in our frequent Legend conversations is the value of family and how strong a sibling-siblings or parent-child relationship can be. Jin's desire to be reunited with Mei Yee was truly tangible and I enjoyed this element of the story so much. 

***Spoiler Alert***
Nevertheless, I thought it was an odd decision to make it Mei Yee and Dai who were romantically attracted to each other. They didn't seem like good candidates for togetherness and their personalities clashed a lot in my mind when you thought about their relationship from a more statistical point of view. However, Dai and Jin would have made a much more believable couple because their passion for life would have been at the same level. Yet, Dai needed the motivation to rescue Mei Yee and what better motivation is there besides love?
***End Spoiler***

Writing Stye | 80% Everyone knows that I am an absolute sucker for multi-POV books and this book would not have wowed me half as much if it the three characters hadn't given me such a panoramic view of the story from three very different stances in society. In a dark world of drugs and crime, there was the vagrant, the prostitute, and the upperclass criminal which ensured the fact that I was in for a wild ride.

Ending | 70% It is rare that I will find a dystopian/fantasy-esque novel that is a standalone and most of the time, I am left wanting more from the author. I honestly don't know how Graudin did it, but she wrapped up all the loose threads into this neat little package. While I disliked the events themselves that happens, I loved the buildup to them. 

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
There was something so unique and individual in terms of the feelings The Walled City gave me that I want to feel again, so I most definitely will be picking up Graudin's other works such as All That Glows.

Conclusion: An exhilarating, vivid, and fascinating standalone told from three unlikely perspectives that is the epitome of a story.

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