The Walled City by Ryan Graudin – Book Review

“There are three rules of survival in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife.”

“730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.”

– Ryan Graudin, The Walled City

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The Walled City

by Ryan Graudin

4/5 Stars

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.”


I first heard about Ryan Graudin from booktube. There was a lot of buzz around her book Wolf by Wolf. I absolutely loved Wold by Wolf. (Just ask Eden, I all but forced her to read it. She also enjoyed it an posted her thoughts here.) I hadn’t heard much about The Walled City by Graudin. I saw it at Blue Bicycle Books over the summer and picked it up on a whim. Well, I finally got around to reading it and I am so glad that I picked it up.

This story was like nothing else I’ve ever read. It’s a dystopian novel that feels completely authentic. That is because it is based on a real place. This walled city was a real place that Graudin researched for inspiration. The work that Graudin did to learn about the city and its inhabitants really shows. It is a situation that seems unbelievable yet is entirely realistic.

Beyond the world building I loved the characters and relationships within this book. The focus in this book is familial. Rather than going for the typical love triangle Graudin chose to focus on the love of family. That gave this book a totally fresh feel. Many times with YA we don’t get to see a lot about a character’s family. I really appreciated that Graudin took the relationship of the siblings and put that at the forefront. Those ties were the most important in this story and that made it so much deeper and richer.

This book was much more than I anticipated. I’ve become weary of dystopian because of the overload we had years ago. However, this book goes against the overplayed tropes. It stands out amongst other dystopians and I really appreciate that. If you are looking for an action packed read you should definitely pick up Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City.

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