Author: Fonda Lee
Narrator: Andrew Kishino
Audiobook Length: 19 hours
Family is duty. Magic is power. Honor is everything.
Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for – and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical 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.
Recently, The Green Bone Saga has come back on my radar with the third novel, Jade Legacy coming out later this year. I have heard nothing but praise for this series, so I was hesitant to start it for fear it would disappoint. While Jade City took me a long time to get into, it turned out incredibly well and now I will need to start the second in preparation for the third. It might not be the case for every reader, but if you find yourself in the same boat where it is taking a few tries to get into the story, I would suggest to keep reading as it does get more captivating the longer you read. I listened to the audiobook, which definitely helped as it gave a new dimension to the experience. The story takes place in Kekon and is a saga of family duty at its core. The family dynamics in this story are very complex and well-written as they are both genuine and relatable on one level or another.
The country of Kekon was written to feel as if it was a real place with hints of multiple Asian destinations, including Okinawa, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Jade is mined on this island country and can be used to enhance the magical possessors known as the Green Bones. The capitol city is Janloon and is a city divided between two clans, No Peak and The Mountain. Each gang has a heiarchy with specialized positions. The Pillar is the gang leader (Lan), the Horn is in charge of the violence and streets (Hilo), and the Weather Man, who does the finances and business operations. In this story, Hilo and Lan are two of the four main characters. The other two are Shae, Hilo and Lan’s younger sister, and Anden, their adopted cousin who could potentially follow Hilo’s path. The main characters are part of the No Peak clan as part of the Kaul family. The Mountain clan is ruled by Ayt Mada.
Essentially, there are a lot of characters in this novel, so it does take a minute to keep them straight. However, they each are written very well and all very unique, so it is not impossible to distinguish them from each other. The same goes for the world-building as there is a lot of information given in this story. There is the magic system, the politics, the history, and clan operations, just to name a few. Both the characters and the world are introduced slowly enough that the reader has time to process everything before another piece is introduced. I appreciated that the author took the time to not dump everything on the reader all at once and instead thought about the reader experience where it takes some time to get familiar with all the parts.
The story may start off slow, but the action picks up and keeps going with a lot of plot twists along the way. With the new drug, SN1(“Shine”), coming around, there is added tension as it gives people the same powers that Jade gives the Green Bones. On one side, The Mountain, believes this is the future, whereas, No Peak, is on the side that this is not the way to go. At times the novel felt very dense, but it was very enjoyable and captivating. The family dynamics where they may not always agree with each other, but they stick together was enjoyable. Overall, this is a great start to the series and I cannot wait to read (or listen) to what will happen next!