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review 2019-08-22 00:47
Jade City: Green Bone Saga #1
Jade City - Fonda Lee

This book is far more crime family drama than it is a fantasy epic. That isn't a bad thing, but it was a bit of a surprise for me. Between the slow build and the tone being different than what I expected, it took me a while to settle into the groove of this one, but once I did it was fairly enjoyable.


The world building is really top notch, and I was interested in learning more and spending time in this universe. The characters were also well drawn, if not terribly original. The plot ticked along, building momentum as the book progressed. Lee heavily telegraphs where the story is going, and I called what was going to happen pretty early on, but that didn't really diminish any satisfaction in watching things unfold. The surprise isn't really so much what is going to happen but the specifics of precisely how and why things will unfold. All in all this is a really well crafted story.


So why didn't I rate it higher? Lee has quite a bit of narrative distance in her writing, and as a result I found it hard to fully connect to the characters and invest in the story. I felt like I was watching it from afar, which blunted some of its sharpness and immediacy. I'm also not a huge fan of crime family dramas, though this one did win me over in the end. I'm curious to see where this series goes, but I don't know if that curiosity will be able to win out against the sheer size of these books (I'm not a huge fan of long books). I will say this: I reeeeeeeeally want a TV show or movie to be made out of these. This story is just begging for a visual translation!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-03-03 18:01
Jade City by Fonda Lee (audiobook)
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) - Fonda Lee,Andrew Kishino

Series: The Green Bone Saga #1


I didn't really know what to expect with this one. I forget how it got on my list in the first place, but it must have made enough waves for me to notice it when it came out. I was originally planning to read the ebook, which I bought, but then the library had the audiobook available, so I took that route instead. The audio was nice because that way I wasn't guessing about the pronunciation of the names, although I had to go back to my ecopy to check on spellings a few times.


Basically it's an alternate modern world (i.e. with different country names) where bioenergetic jade confers superpowers (basically heightened senses and abilities) on people. But most people are too sensitive to be actually be able to use jade, so only certain people from Kekon (a small Asian island nation) end up really using (although there are mentions of special ops teams in foreign countries). The people who use jade, the green bones, ended up organizing themselves into clans that are a mix of gangs and the mafia and that have political influence although they're not supposed to control politicians directly.


Jade City is the story of what happens when two of these clans go to war, and it's a mix of family drama and gang warfare, basically, with nice little touches like the fact that the old Pillar (head of the clan) never actually liked his second grandson and puts him down all the time. It goes so far that the old Pillar's right hand man is even willing to let the second grandson be killed by a rival clan in order to keep the peace because he feels that this is what his old boss would have wanted. That kind of family drama.


Anyway, I feel it's a pretty solid start to a new fantasy series, and I'll be looking for the next book when it comes out this summer.

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review 2018-08-24 01:38
Immerse yourself in this world of Magic, Crime and Family
Jade City - Fonda Lee

So Fonda Lee has a great idea -- others have employed it as well, don't get me wrong, but the way she does it is great -- instead of setting an Urban Fantasy in this world, just a version of it with some magic; you set it in a world a whole lot like this one -- but you infuse the world with some sort of magic. A world where technology/science and magic co-exist. It's enough like this world that you can get your hands around cultural mores and norms.


There's this stone, a mineral, called jade. It looks a lot like our jade (from what I can tell, Hank Schrader, I'm not). Certain people are sensitive to it, and it enables them to channel magic, some become addicted to the mineral and what it does to them -- others ("stone eyes") are completely insensitive to it and are therefore the ideal candidates to shape it, transport it, and mine it. Only people from Kekon have this relationship with jade (not that unexpectedly, they're also the world's source for it).


There are other countries that want jade and what it can do to a person -- military uses, primarily. But their people aren't natively sensitive, so they're working on ways to engineer the sensitivity. There's a lot of money to be made controlling the Jade. Years ago -- a generation or so -- a group of "Green Bone" warriors drove foreign powers from Kekon and assumed control of the Jade trade. Working with the legitimate government, these Green Bones rule Kekon.


They are, for all intents and purposes, a criminal organization -- or would've been were it not for a divergence of vision -- they're now two rival criminal organizations -- with their own rules, laws, rituals, educational systems and cultures. There's a Cold War between them -- a perilous truce, with the citizens of Kekon stuck in the middle (paying tribute, currying favor, and occasionally serving as cannon fodder).


But then something shifts the balance of power -- plans that have been brewing for years start to come to fruition and conflict erupts.


We focus on the Kaul family, their soldiers, their leadership, their friends and fortunes. There's the aged warrior struggling with the weight of glory and past success in the face of the end of their life, there's the new generation of leadership, trying to live up to the glories of the past and finding it more difficult than they expected. Some have tried to forge new paths in a new world, others are trying to recreate the past.


This is one of those that I can't think how to describe without ruining everything -- so that's about as much as I'm going to say. The back cover blurb describes this as "The Godfather with Magic." It's easy to see why. It's also incredibly easy to start casting various characters ___ is Michael (clearly), ___ is Tom, and if ____ isn't Sonny, I'll eat my hat. I do have real answers for those blanks, but I thought I'd better not give everything away. It is more than just The Godfather with Magic -- but you can't get away from that (unless you're not that familiar with that particular work -- and then you're not missing a thing).


There's magic, there's a mob story, there's family, love, loyalty . . . you name it, this book has it. Better yet, at the helm of this world you have Fonda Lee who does a great job building this world and populating it with people that the reader can relate to.


This is a rich world full of intrigue, danger, family and magic. It's a fantastic piece of worldbuilding and you can tell that Lee has great plans in store for these characters, and I can tell that they have no clue what's coming -- and frankly, the readers have less of a clue. I'm looking forward to seeing just what it is.


Note that's close to a disclaimer, yeah, I said ARC for a book that was published last year. How'd I manage that? Time travel? Well, no. I won the ARC at Indie Bookstore Day (or something like that). So, there be a couple of changes between what I read and the final product, but probably nothing major.

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url 2018-08-08 00:53
$2.99 Sale from Publisher Orbit (SF/F genre imprint of Hachette Book Group)
Jade City - Fonda Lee
Soul of the World - David Mealing
The Court of Broken Knives - Anna Smith Spark
The Fifth Ward: First Watch - Dale Lucas
Strange Practice - Vivian Shaw
The Tethered Mage - Melissa Caruso-Scott
Age of Assassins - R.J. Barker
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review 2018-03-19 03:49
Jade City by Fonda Lee - My Thoughts
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga) - Fonda Lee

I really have to start putting my thoughts down when I finish my books, not three days later! 

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, if I'm honest.  It's The Godfather meets Ninjas and Yakuza clans in a 1950's-ish time and on the Island of Kekon where jade is magical, giving enhanced abilities to some who are known as the Green Bone Warriors. 

I found the first maybe third of the book a little slow, as things got set up and we meet the main players, the Kaul family, as well as the a slew of secondary characters.  It's a typical clan type family, I guess, with the 'retired' grandfather who is having difficulty letting go of his power.  His three grandchildren, Lan, Hilo, Shae and the adopted Anden.  Lan, the eldest, is the new Pillar or head of the No Peak clan, Hilo is the Horn, the second-in-command.  Their sister, Shae, has been away from the island and the clan for a while and has been living without her jade.  Anden, the youngest, about to leave his teen years behind is a senior at the Academy, just about ready to graduate and take his jade as well as his position within the family. 

Once we begin to know all the characters and get somewhat of a handle on them, the story really kicks in.  We're talking murders, assassinations, stolen jade, government scandals, love affairs, clans heading to war and maybe even the total collapse of their island and way of life. 

The world-building is intricate and terrific and the characters, main, secondary and even the walk-ons are deftly drawn.  Once we get into things, the plot moves along quite nicely with twists and turns and surprises along the way.  Some good and some bad.  Some I saw coming, some I did not.

So, yes, this is one of those books where I wish I could write a decent review because I feel like I'm not doing it justice.  It's a terrific book and I can't wait for the second book to come out.

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