Book Review: Jade City

Posted November 6, 2017 by Kara in book review, Kara / 0 Comments

Book Review: Jade CityJade City by Fonda Lee
Series: Jade City #1
Published by Orbit on November 7th 2017
Genres: adult, fantasy
Pages: 512
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

Jade City is a book about loyalty, family and warring clans. The world is Asian influenced, mostly Chinese from what I could tell–I’m not an expert or anything, but the location read like an island China, sort of like Hong Kong, maybe Taiwan because crispy squid balls are a Taiwanese dish and it’s featured as one of the entrees at the Twice Lucky Restaurant in the novel. Janloon even sort of sounds like Kowloon. Plus, with the inclusion of jade and jade powers, that just made it read even more like a Chinese fantasy world.
I enjoyed Jade City quite a bit, but for a book that’s about warring clans, there was surprisingly very little action. There was soooo much exposition. It’s a series though, and with the depth of this world-building, I suspect there will be a whole lot more in the next book. The author really brought the world to life though, and it’s clear that she paid attention to every little detail. I do wish there had been a little more atmosphere in the writing–I prefer more sensory language and want to feel like I am there, but even so, I enjoyed most of what I read.

That said, this book really drags quite a bit, and if you aren’t into the characters or the conflict going down, you are going to be bored out of your mind. I was somewhere in between, but I enjoyed it enough to finish, and I found the second half a whole lot stronger than the first. There are multiple POVs, at least four, but they are all well done, in my opinion. I’m not a big fan of multiple POVs but if they are written well with distinct voices, I can handle it.

The author isn’t afraid to take drastic chances, and I appreciate that kind of bravery. She’s not afraid to completely torture her characters, and the violence in the book is graphic and reads very realistic.  I think I’ll probably stick with this series, but I want to read what the next book is about first before I decide.

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