I loved almost everything about The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. The story was engaging, and it was difficult to put the book down.
The Walled City is written from three points of view: Jin Ling, Mei Yee and Dai. Jin Ling and Mei Yee are sisters; Mei Yee has been sold into sex trafficking by their father, and Jin Ling has entered the Walled City to find her.
Dai has a specific goal to achieve in the city, which is gradually revealed throughout the book. The sections are named in terms of a countdown, which signifies the amount of time that Dai has left to complete his goal.
I enjoyed reading Jin Ling and Dai’s points of view a little more than Mei Yee’s because they were out in the city and most of the action took place during their chapters. Nevertheless, Mei Yee’s point of view brings attention to important issues and it is a vital part of the story.
I also enjoyed watching the characters find out about the others’ secrets, and getting to know each other.
I’m not 100% a bitch, so I am going to let you know that this next part has spoilers.
I had one major problem with the book. I realize the main theme was not romance, but I was disappointed that Mei Yee and Dai ended up together because I was totally shipping Dai and Jin Ling. I thought they were going to be together through most of it. Mei Yee was described as “beautiful” so I thought it would be too typical that she would end up with the main male character. Meanwhile, Jin Ling was not traditionally beautiful, but I thought the chemistry between her and Dai was fantastic, even though she was a few years younger. Dai reveals he loves Jin Ling like a sister.
When Dai said this, it reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender when they’re watching that play in the Fire Nation and the play version of Katara says “I want to let you know, Aang, that I’ll always love you, like a brother,” and then the play version Aang says “I wouldn’t want it any other way!”
In this analogy, I am the real Aang, groaning in the audience.
This book would have been one of my favorite YAs of all time if Jin Ling and Dai had ended up together. Dai barely even knows Mei Yee. She’s a sweet girl, but you shouldn’t have to be a sweet girl for a boy to like you.