The Walled City – Review

The Hak Nam Walled City. A recipe of humanity’s darkest ingredients – thieves, whores, murderers, addicts – all mashed int six and a half acres…

The Walled City was a book unlike any I’ve ever read. The concept and the setting were the best things about this book, and they really stood out to me from the moment I read the description.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.

Right from the start, the book grabbed my attention. The viciousness of the city and its conditions comes at you right away, and the setting is so vividly portrayed that it was probably the strongest feature of the book. The writing style, particularly when it came to the setting was spectacular, and because the environment has so much to do with the book, it just enhanced the plot.

I liked the three characters, and I liked that there was no love triangle or angst-filled conflict between the three as I thought there might have been. The story is told from the perspectives of Dai, Jin, and Mei Yee, but I found that it was really more of Dai’s story. His perspective felt a lot stronger than Jin’s and Mei Yee’s, though they were all really great characters. Dai I loved immediately; there was just something about his tone and his attitude towards everything including himself that really struck me. Jin and Mei Yee felt more secondary.

The plot was very interesting, but the pace just didn’t match up. The book counts down from 18 days and while countdowns usually serve the increase the intensity and excitement of the book, I felt that it was lacking in this book. While I was interested, I wasn’t anxious for the next page, the next chapter. This was the one disappointment I had with this book, that it didn’t deliver that adrenaline-pumping experience I was really hoping to get from it.

The Walled City was a good read with a great concept, fantastic setting, but a slower pace than I would have liked.


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