Genre: urban fantasy
TWO CRIME FAMILIES, ONE SOURCE OF POWER: JADE.
Jade is the lifeblood of the city of Janloon – a stone that enhances a warrior’s natural strength and speed. Jade is mined, traded, stolen and killed for, controlled by the ruthless No Peak and Mountain families.
When a modern drug emerges that allows anyone – even foreigners – to wield jade, simmering tension between the two families erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all in the families, from their grandest patriarch to even the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets.
Jade City is an epic tale of blood, family, honour, and of those who live and die by ancient laws in a changing world.
Rating out of five:
– the action –
This book had a well thought through plot, a lot of action in between slower scenes and lots of crime family conflicts. The fight scenes was well-written, it reads like those of a superhero action movie. I especially noted it when someone slits the enemy’s throat from behind. Personally I’m not much a fan of fight scenes like this, I like my action to come with emotions or a lack off, written with a different perspective than just cinematic-looking decription. This is an opinion that hasn’t affected my rating of this book, because I think it’s very well done and something many readers want. It would make it easy for a movie adaption as well.
– the jade –
The concept of jade as a powersource was something new for me and made perfect sense. The mix of asian and western is something that makes this book special, it’s a big part of the plot. Just the levels of formality in the culture is a something that fits perfectly with the dynamics of the families. The crime families agree that outsiders are dangerous to invite in, to give them this drug and control of powers they didn’t understand, which leads them to a certain degree of isolation and a good scene for this internal struggle to play out.
“So it came to be, remarkably, that the ruling family of No Peak was all the family Anden had.”
– the characters –
The story is told from multiple points of view, which was tricky. I didn’t really care for the character we started out with, there’s this kid who tries to steal jade that I didn’t feel for much. Poor circumstances made it hard for him, but he’s no evil mastermind or accidental hero. Probably going to become one in later books though, with the focus he got sometimes. There were other characters I didn’t care much for as well, which I realized is because you don’t get to see much of the internal life of them, even through their point of view.
Shae is the sister in one of the biggest crime families, and she’s returned after basically running away attending school overseas. She could’ve been such an interesting character, but her plans without jade was so ridiculous and uncertain for someone who had taken such a deliberate choice to separate her from her family. She’s too smart not to have a plan or even dreams as she returns from abroad. Multiple times I felt like her character came apart, where the way everyone described her didn’t match up with how undecisive she acted and thought about events, especially in her pov.
There should’ve been more backstory and personality quirks in a book of five hundred pages, to give readers a reason to care about Hilo’s top men and even all the major characters. I cared about Lan because he had a lot to say in how it would go down, which family would win power. Aden got some backstory and we got a quick look into how hard he was working to be best at the military school.
“Heaven help me, Shae,” he whispered into her ear. “I’m going to kill them all.”
Politics and the parts where Shae and Hilo is organizing were good. I have a weakness for characters like Hilo, who is used to violence, but has a conscience somewhere and is very protective of his family and friends, even though he’s arguing with them. Even Aden remarks that he has a remarkable way with people, but then sometimes he shows how dangerous and spontaneous he could be, which was awesome.
– in the end –
It ended on an exciting note and I think I’ll pick up the next book in the series pretty quickly when it comes out. It took a long time to build up the characters and plot, but now I have all hopes for a good series, as it was well done in many aspects.
*spoilery discussion on characters below*
First I blamed Shae’s weird character changes on the fact that she had taken a blow when leaving and had changed as a person, but when events unfolded and she was back to organizing and taking control that explanation seemed less unlikely. I get the idea of giving her a dilemma, but make it a more difficult one and give it more explanation, not just the image of a girl wandering around a town with a lot of free time. I felt like it was just to set up her eventual return, but that didn’t make it less exciting.
“I’ve got news for my tough little sister who thinks she’s too good for her family. Lan won’t come out and say it, but I will: You can’t be an ordinary person, Shae. Not in this city. Not in this country. You don’t like being kept in the dark, secretly guarded and treated like some helpless woman? Well, you put yourself there.”
Giving an explanation was done much better at the end with Aden, he had some backstory with how he witnessed his mother go mad, at least partly because of the jade. He felt a disbalance in himself, had watched Lan’s death and the feeling when he killed men too efficient. The decision had been built up and therefore mattered, so I cared more about him.
Lan’s death was invietable, but I still didn’t predict it when it came. It’s such a long book and at some point halfway I thought about how the hell they would get out of this mess, any of the clans. But they did it, and it was great.