Summary : Hit or miss raw novel with a feel of dystopia and historical fiction.
Survival of the fittest meets chaos, crime, and filth in this barefaced novel that follows the struggles of three teens who dream of a fresh start far away from the walls that confine them to the savage, cruel world of drugs, prostitution, and gangs.
Jin, hides in plain sight in boys clothes, ingenuity, and grime as she does all within her power to find the sister that was ripped away from her.
Dai, grapples with demons as he searches for a guaranteed escape out of the walls that keep him trapped.
Mei Yee, keeps herself safe behind a painted mask of beauty as she battles her will to fight for a life outside the walls of the city.
All share the same desire, but each must find what the need within themselves to achieve the end goal.
The Walled City reads much like a gritty drama with both a dystopian and historical-fiction feel, though it is neither. This four hundred-page novel, based on the Walled City in Hong Kong, is full of intrigue, danger, and coarse emotions. Graudin’s care in building a powerful backdrop for these characters becomes evident as the abandoned city breaths and comes to life throughout the novel. However, no matter how crisp or powerful the imagery is the grueling creep of the story diminishes the impact.
The situations that make Jin, Dai, and Mei Yee feel authentic, but their voices blur together. The entire prose of the novel falls flat, almost monotone. Perhaps because more care is placed on building the city than its inhabitants. The characters had depth that is only hinted at. The story moves along at a slow, steady pace, even the ending feels anticlimactic. The epilogue is unnecessary, it only creates dissonance that does not match the feel of the rest of the novel. Resolution should not be gift wrapped and finished off with a bow. Upon further thought, it may be appropriate as life outside the walls should be different.
The Walled City is more about a corrupt city and what happens in it versus what happens to the people that live in within those walls. If you want a fairly easy read with a dreary feel, heavy imagery, and have a taste for dystopian novels this may work for you if you go with appropriate expectations.
*** This book was received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ***