The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

When I first started to read this book, I was afraid that I was going to be let down due to the cliche, predictable plot beginning.  What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with it. I thought that it was going to be a boring, lame spinoff of Mulan that would put me to sleep.  However, the author cleverly maneuvered himself out of the cliche rut by creating a beautiful and unlikely story evolving around a trio of misfit teens joined by a mission, each with a voice meant to be heard.

Jin Ling was by far my favorite character in this book. I thought that the author would end up trying to pair her with someone , but he kept it unconventional and fresh by showing that Jin Ling was a strong independent woman who didn’t need a man to take care of her. She was the man of her own life (quite literally). I loved how she used her lack of an aesthetically pleasing appearance as an advantage, rather than crying over it and using it as a point of weakness, which is what most “strong female characters” in popular teen novels usually do. Jin Ling was strong and brave, and always seemed to get out of problems that could prove fatal. She seems to be an exemplary model for maturing girls in this world, because she shows them that being a girl doesn’t have to mean being weak. She shows them that girls are stronger than they think they are and that they can do anything they set their mind to. This beautiful image is also supported by Mei Yee, the seemingly “just a pretty face” who managed to survive hell and summon up the courage to save her beloved Dai. I wish other novels could instill in me the feeling of empowerment as this book has.

I was also extremely impressed with the hint of romance in this story. While entertaining the reader, the author managed to keep the blossoming love in check and maintain the action and suspense that the book is all about. Many teen novels today start out with such potential but die down later into the plot due to a seemingly tiny romance growing into a tsunami that engulfs the book. This novel, however, provides a breath of fresh air amongst all the Twilight-esque stories covering the bookshelves. The love between Mei Yee and Dai is just enough to keep teens interested, but manages to subtly weave into the story to create a beautiful plot of fates entertwined.

If you want an easy-read, then this book is definitely not for you. Fast- paced and packed with action, it somehow causes you heart rate to spike while lazily slouching on the couch. It is a tale of treachery, deceit, unlikely friendships , pain, and joy, all occuring amazingly within a span of just 18 days. So, if you’re in the mood for something that will transport you into another world filled with danger, mystery, and hidden courage, I strongly suggest that you give this book a shot.

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