cover image The Walled City

The Walled City

Ryan Graudin. Little, Brown, $18 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-40505-8

The walled city of Hak Nam is “a place so ruthless even the sunlight won’t enter,” a festering cesspool in which children and teenagers are forced to murder, steal, and become prostitutes to survive. Dai Shing, trying to escape the city for reasons of his own, is ticking off the 18 days until the New Year when he partners up with Jin Ling, who is posing as a street boy in an effort to find her sister, Mei Yee. Now Jin must rescue Mei from a brothel under the control of the nefarious Brotherhood of the Red Dragon, with Dai’s unwitting assistance. Graudin (All That Glows) is gifted at employing simile and other literary devices to describe the gritty surroundings and Hak Nam’s criminal inhabitants, including one man with a voice “like a junkyard dog.” The result is three stories deftly entwined into a fast-paced, striking tale—partly inspired by the now-destroyed Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong—as Dai and Jin learn to trust one another with their lives. Ages 15–up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Nov.)