Book Recommendation: The Walled City

Seriously? How cool is this cover?

I first heard about The Walled City at BEA, but wasn’t able to grab a copy. It was one of the books on their YA Buzz Books panel, so it doesn’t surprise me that they were gone by the time Ryan Graudin had finished talking. Everything about it sounded awesome, from the real city it’s based on to the amazing rotating cast of narrators to that tagline (ALWAYS CARRY YOUR KNIFE). I was kind of bummed that I went home without it.

It took me a few months, but I finally got my hands on a copy. And I devoured it. Here’s the premise:

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.

Now is the time to start squealing. Because not only does it sound awesome, it delivers.

What Intrigued Me: I love love LOVE the premise. A lawless walled city is my happy place. Not my I-want-to-live-there happy place. More my I-must-read-about-this-NOW happy place. So, I guess, not so much a “happy place” as a “obsessed with place”.

What Hooked Me: When you rotate narrators, it seems almost inevitable that the reader will prefer one more than the other. It happens, people pick favorites. But I didn’t. I loved all three narrators equally. They were each so different, and so compelling. And that’s incredibly rare.

Also of note, there was an adorable cat. I am a sucker for adorable cats.

Happy Halloween!

What Made Me Fall In Love: With thrillers, pacing is everything. You need to start with a punch and a quick clip, and not let up. The pace has to be fast. Too slow, and you lose the reader. Too fast, and you still lose the reader. It’s a very tremulous balance. And Graudin nails it. The story is quick, the twists are plenty, the emotional and physical stakes are high. It’s unputdownable.

I’m addicted to this kind of sadness

The Walled City is available November 4 from Barnes & Noble and your local lawless bookstore. Grab, don’t steal, a copy.

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