Living within a lawless labyrinth dominated by crime lords and street gangs where teens are forced to traffic drugs and work in brothels, Jin endures a life in hiding before a new friend offers her a chance to find her lost sister. By the author of All That Glows. Simultaneous eBook. 60,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
As Jin Ling tries to save her sister, Mei Yee, from the Brotherhood of the Red Dragon in Hak Nam Walled City, one boy, Dai, can reunite them and save their lives--but only if he's willing to risk his own. - (Baker & Taylor)
"As Jin Ling tries to save her sister, Mei Yee, from the Brotherhood of the Red Dragon in Hak Nam Walled City, one boy, Dai, can reunite them and save their lives--but only if he's willing to risk his own"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
730. That's how many days I've been trapped.
18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out. - (Grand Central Pub)
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....
JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....
MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....
In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.
Graudin's sophomore effort takes its inspiration from Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City, a former fort turned lawless shantytown demolished in the 1990s. In this violent, bleak tale, three characters narrate their struggles to survive. Dai traffics drugs to make good on a past mistake, and offers Jin, a girl on the lam disguised as a boy, a chance to search for her older sister, Mei Yee. Unbeknownst to Jin, her sister is on the other side of the brothel window from Dai. The three race against the ticking clock—the Walled City is on the verge of being demolished—to find the brothel's ledger and escape alive. Graudin uses multiple narrators to excellent effect, with cliff-hanger chapter endings that leave the reader little chance to catch his or her breath. She artfully balances tense action scenes with lyrical language, distinct voices for each narrator, and ruminations that probe the book's deeper themes of family, regret, and second chances. Though the story is solidly based in reality, it should nonetheless appeal to fans of dystopian fiction. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Hak Nam Walled City, based on a real place in Hong Kong, is described as "Hell on earth." The narrative rotates among three teen protagonists who desperately want to escape. Mysterious Dai teams up with Jin, who's passing as a boy and searching for her sister, Mei Yee, who was sold into prostitution. A riveting, suspenseful tale of violence, danger, and survival.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Hak Nam Walled City, the setting for this gripping and gritty thriller, is based on a real place, Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City; a densely populated, largely ungoverned urban shantytown rife with prostitution, gambling, and drugs, it was torn down late in the twentieth century. Graudin describes Hak Nam as "a recipe of humanity's darkest ingredients -- thieves, whores, murderers, addicts -- all mashed into six and a half acres. Hell on earth...A place so ruthless even the sunlight won't enter." The narrative rotates among three teen protagonists who desperately want to escape, but must work together -- and trust one another. Dai has a mysterious past, is working for the most ruthless crime lord in the Brotherhood of the Red Dragon, and counting down the days until the New Year and his chance to implement his daring plan. He teams up with Jin, a girl passing as a boy, who carries messages because of her fleet feet and who is searching for her sister, Mei Yee, who was sold into prostitution several years ago. They plan to break into the brothel -- Dai to find the ledger that will bring the down the Brotherhood, Jin to rescue her sister. Graudin deftly juggles the multiple perspectives to create a riveting, suspenseful tale of violence, danger, and survival. jonathan hun Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
Heroin addicts, crime lords and murderers wreak havoc upon the residents of Hak Nam Walled City, a neglected, filthy place in this teen thriller told in alternating viewpoints. Inspired by Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City, Graudin's prose uncovers a contemporary dystopia where despair is so rampant, "even the sunlight won't enter." Disguised as a boy, Jin Ling runs like the wind and searches Walled City for her beloved sister, Mei Yee. Mei Yee, taken to a brothel run by Brotherhood drug lord Longwai, longs for the sea and her sister, while her nights are spent servicing Ambassador Osamu. And Dai Shing, full of personal demons and running from the law, ticks off the days leading up to the New Year, the day his dubious freedom within lawless Walled City will end. He needs an "in" to the brothel in order to clear his name, but first, he'll need help—from the two sisters. As their paths cross, the three teens struggle with their biggest obstacle, as mountainous as the walls surrounding the city: trusting one another. With gritty, vehement details, Walled City looms large, like a fourth character, its alleyways as twisted as Longwai's mind. Violence runs deep throughout the book, but it's written with care and never feels gratuitous. In particular, one rape scene becomes Mei Yee's source of strength. It's key moments like these that offer humanity in this sea of inhumanity. Readers, rapt, will duck for cover until the very last page. (author's note) (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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.)
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School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—Dai has 18 days to find a way out of Hak Nam Walled City. Once a fort the space is now a lawless outland occupied by gangs, vagrants, and prostitutes. Each day is a fight for survival for most residents of the Walled City. Dai is from the City Beyond. Consigned to the Walled City for his actions he spends his time planning his escape. To do this, he must infiltrate the Brotherhood, the most feared and powerful gang in the Walled City, and steal from its leader, Longwai. He'll need the help of Hak Nam's fastest runner, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee, one of the whores in Longwai's brothel. Jin Ling sees her involvement as a way to search the brothel for her missing sister, sold into prostitution by their father two years ago. Mei Yee finally sees a ray of hope with Dai's promise of freedom. But each has their own dark secrets, which could jeopardize not only their chance of success but their very lives. This dark and gritty thriller doesn't pull any punches, taking readers into a world of fear, danger, and deprivation. Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee each tell their part of the story in nonconsecutive chapters, slowly plaiting a single tale from their multiple narratives. Vivid descriptions add color and infuse the story with realism. While there are mature situations dealing with drugs, violence, and rape, they are skillfully relayed without being graphic. This complex, well-written novel is full of tension, twists, and turns, and teens will not be able to put it down.—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL
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