Monday, 1 December 2014

The Walled City


The Walled City
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher

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.....


Couldn't have said it better myself GoodReads, I'm sucking at coming up with my own synopsis lately but I'm such a dick when I do mine because I always end up giving too much away and ugh. So yeah. 


Weeellll Nina is amazing at sending me books I end up totally loving, it's like she has a superpower or something. This book is all go right from the beginning, and I was drawn in right from the beginning, from that point, I was a goner and I couldn't put it down. I'm still shocked that the Walled City was an actual real place, I was totally shocked and fascinated when reading the authors note and looking at the pictures, I can't even imagine living in that place! 


I really enjoyed the portrayal of the different types of people that would live in that sort of place, the vagrants, the gangs, the prostitutes, fugitives, and general criminals. None of it was romanticized, like things like that so often are, it was very gritty, brutal, natural, organic, real etc, it was all portrayed with respect as much as being brutally honest, and you feel such an empathy for all of the different types of people. 


We switch POV's from Jin, Dai and Mei, each of them is vastly different from the others, and has a unique personality, each has qualities you admire and each is strong in their own way. Each of them you form a connection with and really feel for them. Jin changes her entire life, to live in the Walled City and look for Mei, she's strong enough to go in to that place voluntarily and help Dai even though she doesn't entirely trust him, just to get to search another brothel for her sister. Mei is strong enough to rebel against the master, despite the consequences she knows will occur, and turn down a way out from the brothel to help Dai, and Dai, well he's strong enough to turn round and help Mei and Jin as well as following his own plan, I mean he takes Jin out of the Walled City, goes back home knowing he could be arrested, just to save her life. 


Each character has so much depth to them and is written so well that they can easily be pictured, and you can easily get a feel for them, the chapters are quite small, but you still get a strong feel for them within the first few chapters. 


I loved the different POV's because the changes where perfect, each POV switched at the right moment, and the POV's where used to keep you guessing. When Dai is left in the brothel and the gun goes off? No POV for him for a few chapters, so you really do start to believe he's dead, and you're like "oh my God....but....what?!" but then it's like BOOM he's alive, and he's back with his POV. It was genius, seriously, I've never seen POV's used that way, usually they're just there to show some more perspective on a scene. The different POV's are not only used to add to the tension and the suspense and the mystery, but you always see what's going on with other characters instead of the same scene from another perspective. You see Mei and how she's faring in the brothel with her part of the plan and so on. As well as the thoughts of the characters and what's going on with them. 


The story was full of an overwhelming atmosphere, it was incredibly powerful, because you're not reading about some fictional world where fictional things happen, you're reading about a real place, or what used to be a real place anyway, and real things that would have gone on there. Not to mention the fact that drug trafficking and brothels/prostitutes being forced in to the business, does actually happen in this day and age, and not only is it a scary thought, it makes reading this so brutally powerful. Each chapter left you wanting more, they where short, but they all ended making you want to read on and the atmosphere, well, it made  me read on because I was rooting for the characters to escape it! 


The plot was very well done, I don't think the book would have worked without the multi-pov, there was a smidge of romance, subtly threaded underneath, almost as an after thought, and by no means the main attraction. You have a cast of colourful characters, not just the main characters, but secondary characters and extra's (excuse the actor terminology), running around in this incredibly vivid world, fantastically crafted so you get an atmosphere that's oozing off the page, aaannd all of this with a fantastic plot that hooks you in and keeps you reading, there's action, there's plot twists that are fully "OH MY GOD" shocking and at points it has you on the edge of your seat. 


I was kind of gutted though because I totally thought Jin was going to end up with Dai, and I was really rooting for them but he ended up with Mei, and poor Jin was left without anyone. Although I do get there wasn't really time, or an appropriate place in the plot to introduce a romance for Jin, but still.....POOR JIN. She did all that work to help everyone else out! 


The Walled City, despite what it's being called, is not in actual fact Dystopian, it is based on a very real place, and not everyone is going to love it, it may be too gritty for some people and they might not like the concept, but The Walled City is definitely worth a shot because it's truly fantastic. Everything is so well done, so thought out, so well described and everything comes alive as soon as you start reading. This isn't the kind of book I usually go for either, not gonna lie, I do have quite a penchant for the sunshine and rainbows books, but I really found this fascinating and incredibly written.

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