Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Gaudin

The Walled City is a fast moving novel based on the real Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.  The three “heroes” of the novel are Mei Yee, a young girl sold into human trafficking by her father, Jin, her sister who has entered the Walled City posing as a boy, and Dai, a mysterious youth who may or may not be able to help Jin find and rescue her sister.  The protagonists are Kuen and his pack of predatory and sadistic youth who bring terror on the inhabitants of the Walled City and Longwai, the gangster who runs the Walled City and the brothel that holds Mei Yee.
Although the basis of this tale is human trafficking, sex is almost non-existent in the book.  The horror, brutality and hopelessness endured by the girls who are trafficked is, however, clearly shown.  Perhaps this is because the book is being presented as a young adult novel.  Nothing is lost for adults because the fast pace and clever plotting hold the attention of the reader and the nuances are clear. The characters are real, the conversations are not strained and the texture of the city and surrounding area all combine to present a gripping story well worth your time.
If you are not aware of the relationship of the novel to Kowloon Walled City (revealed in the afternotes) the novel has the feel of a fantasy.  The one small defect is the possibly too pat ending.
5 out of 5 stars.