by Fonda Lee
Check out the awards and accolades Jade City got and you won’t need me to tell you this is a book worth reading. I hope some movie production company snatches it up quick, because it totally would make a great movie: central family with sibling rivalry, scenic city backdrops, hand to hand combat, mystical religious figures, and of course, the glamorous shine of Jade.
The Kaul family runs the No Peak clan on the island of Kekon. The Ayt family runs their main rival, Mountain clan. The clans are made up of women and men who have the right balance of sensitivity and tolerance to the bioenergetical properties of Jade mined from their island. By wearing Jade, the warriors (Green Bones) can do things like make themselves lighter, deflect, and steel themselves against harm.
The patriarch of the family is fading, he has passed leadership down to his sons Lan and Hilo, but the Mountain is beginning to skirmish at the borders of their territory. And despite the traditional hoarding of jade by both clans, more and more is showing up in foreign territories. There is going to be a grand, bloody reckoning between the clans that will shake up Jade City’s allegiances.
This is a mafia family story. Really its about political manuevering, the differences between Hilo and Lan and their recently returned sister Shae, wuxia-style brawling in the streets between jade wearing warriors, and strategy.
The world is pretty meticulously conceptualized, history, foreign territories, religion and all. Superbly drawn. I wish we could have followed Lan and Hilo more deeply, but there are so many fun tangents we are pulled away from them by: a lucky street rat, the Kaul’s adopted sibling, the Deitists religion, even the Green Bones training academy really deserves at least half a book in and of itself.
There’s literally too much at times. And once in a while the author throws in a legend in full narrator style that i tended to skim a little because the action with the kauls was so compelling. But that’s a matter of personal taste and I can imagine readers who will love the mythos woven in like that.
It took me a little while to get around to this book, and its actually a bit ironic that I’m reading this while Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are making cultural waves as well. I approve of it all. You should read this book. If you liked The Godfather, if you ever watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or if you just enjoy richly descriptive fantasy.