BOOK REVIEW | Jade City by Fonda Lee

BOOK REVIEW | Jade City by Fonda Lee

Gang-related violence, attempted assassinations, killings, violence, sex, swearing, addiction
Asian coded

Shame on me for taking FOREVER to read this novel, because I could not get enough of it from the moment I started! Thanks again so much to Dini @ Dini Panda Reads for hyping me up for this novel, and helping to convince me to read it right away. I really can’t wait for these books to be made into a tv show or something because it would be freaking EPIC!

Some of the descriptions of Jade City compare it to “the best classic Hong Kong gangster films” and that is right on the dot. From the moment we enter this world, we can see that the clans are in charge of Kekon, even if they aren’t necessarily in the city’s political arena, or even government positions. There’s a reason for that, and even if a clan member isn’t in such a position, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have sway in making public decisions. I enjoyed that part a lot, and I hope that more of that gets explored in the next novel.

The interludes that Lee included in her novel gave us a little bit more of the mythical history behind Kekon and its people, why Jade was important for the clan members to have, what it meant to be a Green Bone. Getting a sneak peek into those ancient stories of times when the Gods were present and made themselves known was great background to have. It all tied in together with what kind of decisions the Kaul family made, even other minor Green Bones that we saw every once in a while. I felt like the Kekonese people were a proud people, doing the honorable thing to protect their home from foreign invasion and ensuring that Kekon survives. I so wish that Kekon was real, that I could visit it and be a tourist in this country and experience some of what goes on. I don’t think I’m equipped to deal with the gang violence when it happens, but then again I’m not a Green Bone.

As Lee has mentioned in the past, this story revolves around the Kaul family – she also mentioned that the whole saga would revolve around them so that’s something to keep in mind – the leaders of the No Peak clan in Kekon. Breaking down the different positions in the clans, we can get a good idea of what the hierarchy looks like. Bear with me, as I didn’t keep track of all of the positions, but I have a good gist of it.

We have the Pillar, which in essence is the main leader of the Clan. They are the head honcho, making decisions on both the fighting aspects and the political aspects of the clan and their doings within Kekon. This person has to be strategic in all ways. The right hand man to the Pillar would be the Horn. The Horn is responsible for all things battle related between the clans. They ensure that their properties are taken care of with ample security and will dish out any punishment to troublemakers. The Horn has Fists and Fingers that are his men on the ground. The Weather Man does a lot more of the books, political things, make sure that they still have a good relationship with the government and various business owners. I’m sure there’s so much more, and I know there are better ways to describe what they do, but I think this may be good for starters.

The Kaul family has been broken for a while, since the youngest sister Shae left Kekon for Espenia a few years ago. By the time this novel gets going, she comes back. So while all of the Kauls are back on Kekon, she doesn’t want anything to do with Clan business. No Peak is being led by Lan and Hilo, Shae’s older brothers and the Pillar and Horn, respectively. Despite some minor skirmishes between No Peak and the Mountain Clan, things have been okay… until Shae finds out that there’s some dirty dealings involving the island’s Jade supply and things start to go to war. Jade is crucial to Green Bones since that is where they draw their power and strength. Not all people are able to wear Jade without getting sick, or even dying because of the exposure. It’s considered an honor to be a Green Bone, and for this Jade to be given away to foreigners who have no concept of its importance is almost blasphemous.

“Heaven help me, Shae,” he whispered into her ear. “I’m going to kill them all.”

page 280

This book is full of violence, betrayal, and the importance of family. The Kaul family is one that I will literally kill for to see them win this battle, after everything that they have gone through, and everything that can happen after the events of this novel. They need to work together if they are going to come out of this with their clan intact, and they need to start learning about one another again. They need to learn to trust one another again, and I think that could be one of the hardest parts for them. Lee once referred to Jade City as a “wuxia gangster saga”, and that’s exactly the vibe I get. I could imagine watching this on TV, being immersed in the culture of Kekon and seeing up close how the Kauls will need to handle this new development. The magic with the Jade combined with the intricacies of mob mentality and movement blended in perfectly. This is definitely not one of those books where all the heroes make it out alive, and death is prominent in this novel. Violent, gory killings that would only make sense in a story like this.

I don’t really know if I even wrote a review, if that makes sense. It seems more of a broken up summary of what I remember and what drew me into the story, but long story short: this has been one of my favorite adult fantasy novels I’ve read in a very long time. I need more of Fonda Lee, and I need more of the Green Bone Saga world.

7 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW | Jade City by Fonda Lee

  1. I need to really sit my butt down and read this one! I started it but had to put it aside to read arcs but now that it’s summer vacay for my son, I think I can finally devote some time to this one. Great review!


  2. Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! It’s such a fantastic book – like you, I can’t believe it took me so long to read it and it’s one of the best adult fantasies I’ve read. I hope you enjoy Jade War!


  3. Setting and fantasy elements aside, this is giving me major Peaky Blinders parallels and I love it—I will have to give this a read.


  4. Omg I had no idea I hyped you up for reading this book BUT I’m SO glad that you read it!!! 😍 How amazing is it?! I buddy read this with Jess and we started on Jade War as soon as she got her copy in and we both loved it so much. I already know my heart won’t be able to take whatever happens in the final book but just thinking about the Green Bone saga has me I’m so incredibly excited for it! I can’t wait 🥰


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