Jade City by Fonda Lee

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This read like a lovechild between The Godfather and martial arts movies with fantasy elements mixed in. Jade City is known for both the bioenergetic Jade it produces, and the people within the city that have been born with the ability to harness its power. There are two main families, really better thought of as clans, that control different parts of the city. They’re known as the “No Peaks” and the “Mountain” clans, and we follow the story from the perspective of the No Peaks. This is a world where mob bosses are the norm, it’s so intertwined into the society that even the government is involved and consults the clan leads while making new laws. Both of the families have their own people sitting in on councils trying to influence the laws in their favor. Most or all of the shops within the city are loyal to one of the two clans, they aren’t technically part of the mob, but the families offer protection in return for kickbacks on their profits. These clan families are highly patriarchal, although women are starting to break through and become involved in the family business, there just aren’t many of them.

There has been an uneasy truce between the two clans for a long time, a longstanding agreement that to go to war with each other was more or less mutually assured destruction. This isn’t a mob culture without rules, there are many common values between the two clans -lines that aren’t meant to be crossed. As tensions get higher the opposing Mountain clan is starting to toe those lines. One event leads to another and a tense situation starts to spiral out of control. A war is looming and seems unavoidable.

There are multiple POVs in this, and the majority of them come from within the No Peak family, two brothers, a sister, and a cousin. I liked the oldest brother the most, he was calm, rational, a good leader and very easy to connect with. The younger brother was a bit of a hot head and I didn’t like him quite as much. I think my favorite character was actually the cousin who has a rather tragic back story. Jade can make you go insane and people can succumb to something known as “the itch”. Emery’s mother known as the Mad Witch died from the itch and it haunts him, always wondering if he will go mad as well. There are a couple POV’s from outside these perspectives, but the family members were the main players. I found myself really liking half of them, and the other half I didn’t totally connect with. Liking a character or not is highly subjective, and I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that if you’re liking the sound of the book – I quite enjoyed the characters I did connect with.

For the first half of the book was a lot of build-up without too much happening, but the second half of the book exploded and wouldn’t let me go. There were a few info dumps where the grandfather of the family would launch into memories of the past, it did bring me up to speed on how the world came to be as it was, but it was mostly in the beginning and didn’t bother me overly much. Going slower with the plot allowed me to get to know the characters better and have a good grasp of the world.

If you like hard magic systems this will likely appeal to you, there was a lot going on with how jade can and can’t be used and the effects it takes on the person wielding it. There are a lot of really neat fight scenes as well.

Overall I liked this one a lot and will be continuing on with the series 😀

 

Audience:

  • non western setting
  • multi pov
  • lots of magic and harder magic system
  • female pov
  • urban fantasy
  • organized crime

Ratings:

  • Plot: 13/15
  • Characters: 12/15
  • World Building: 13.5/10
  • Writing: 13/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 13/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10

Final Score: 83/100 = 4.5/5 Stars on GR – recommended!

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