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The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

The Walled City is one of the most hauntingly beautiful books I have read in a long time, and one of my favorite reads so far in 2014. While I could not directly sympathize with the situations the characters were experiencing, the way the author is able to convey the hopelessness of the city through their eyes was nothing less than heart-wrenching.

I loved the multiple perspectives, although I do agree with other reviewers in that it was difficult at times to distinguish between the voices. The characters all lead very different lives, but their voices and way of speaking are nearly identical. That being said, once I got about 25% of the way through, it was easier to determine who was speaking by what they were doing or where they were within the city of Hak Nam.

The plot in this book moved rather slowly, but I was never bored. There is constant tension and suspense. The city has no law, no police, and is overrun with gangs and drugs. With every page I read, there were literally hundreds of horrible, unexpected things that could go terribly wrong. I also really liked that the plot twists reinforce the city's hopelessness. Good things do not happen in Hak Nam. Things do not go the way you wish they would.

The only aspect of this book I really didn't care for was the ending and unnecessary epilogue. The ending just didn't feel like it fit with the mood, tone, and direction the rest of the story had laid out. I understand that the book is based on the events which happened to an actual walled city, but that dictates the fate of the city, not the fates of the characters involved in this specific fictional story. My issues with the epilogue were more of the same issues I had with the ending. In general I dislike epilogues and prefer more open-ended stories. I want to be left to wonder about the characters, where they are, what they're doing. Epilogues feel like spoilers for the enjoyment I get out of a book after I've finished reading it.

Overall I really loved this book. The star of this book isn't the plot or characters but the setting. The author describes what life is like living within the Walled City so well that you feel like you, too, are standing on its dark, depressing streets. I would recommend this book to fans of deeply depressing, heart-wrenching stories, stories about drug lords, or fans of flowery prose.

Thank you to Netgalley.com and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for allowing me to review this book! Review copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.