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Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee (Green Bone #1)

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Jade City by Fonda Lee // VBCJade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
Fonda Lee
Published: November 7, 2017 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3 stars

Jade has power, for those who can wield it. With that jade comes physical strength, unique abilities, and power over others. There are two clans who control the mining and export of the special jade: one that lives in Jade City itself, and one that lives on the outskirts. When one clan decides that all control should be theirs, then it is all-out war—and gods help anyone who gets in the middle.

Jade City is a sort of Asian Al Capone gangster book. The clans control everything in their territories and they take tributes to help protect their people and businesses. However, there is a loyalty there and an honor system that is uniquely Asian. The story revolves around one clan and the family who controls it–all of them youngsters, and inexperienced in the ways of gang war. They need to fight back and keep control, or they will die. The story itself was certainly intriguing in concept, however it failed to grab my attention until I was already 40 percent of the way through the book (says Kindle). If it had been a book I was reading just to enjoy, I would have given up long before I ever got to that point. I blame most of that apathy not on the story itself, but on the characters within it.

There never really seemed to be a connection made to those who inhabited the pages. As a reader, I expect some sort of emotional connection with a majority of the main characters. That is often what drives a story for me. In this case, that just did not exist. I’m not sure if it was due to the violence that drove much of the action, or if the character development got in the way of story development for future books–but whatever it was, I put it down feeling like they were just ghosts, already fading from my mind. The best characters linger, often for a long time, making the story special and one that bears returning to. That was not the case here.

The setting was quite well written—I could picture the smuggling tunnels, and the restaurants where business often took place. It appears to be modeled after someplace like Portland, Oregon—a city with a small-town feel, but with all of the amenities close at hand for any member of the population. However, it was definitely Asian in feel, with the descriptions of the food and the decorations.

As noted above, there is quite a bit of violence in this book. War is brutal, and Lee pulls no punches (HA!) in that regard. Whether by knife, by gun, by explosion—death here is violent, and very few people can completely escape the aftermath.

While I did find myself more interested in the book during the last half, it wasn’t enough to make me want to read the next one. Jade is a bright, vibrant stone—unfortunately, that did not carry over into the book that carries its name.

Sexual content: Graphic sex

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