The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.
It’s hard for me to review this book because I know so many people loved it and it just felt…very okay to me. I think it’s definitely a case of it being me and not the book. I’m not exactly sure why this one didn’t click with me and I’m pretty bummed about not being more excited about it.
Let’s start with the good! The world building here is fantastic. I love the setting and the whole ‘gang’/’mafia’ culture the story revolves around. I could say more about the actual setting but just know that the world is very fleshed out–everything from commerce to culture is presented here. The gangs, or perhaps clans is a better term, are all family based. You’re either born into it or adopted into it so it very much reminds me of the mafia in that way–although adopted members seem to have more issues being accepted into the family. The story is about two rival clans and their battle for territory and control of certain enterprises. The other important thing about the world building is the magic and this is where the title comes into play. Jade is sort of a stone with powers that can only be used by those of a certain heritage. At one time they were reviled but now they’ve come into power and they use jade to be faster, stronger, etc. As a consequence their warriors are hella strong especially when combining jade with martial arts training.
I thought the characters here were good, definitely well written–they each have very definite arcs. But because the two clans are very similar in how they operate and what’s important to them, I’ll admit that some of the characters kind of started running together after a while. I had a tough time keeping track of who was with which clan and actually who was who altogether. I don’t think any of the characters really stood out for me in the crowd except for Anden because he seems to always be caught between two worlds and has a hard time reconciling what he thinks he wants with what he actually feels through most of the story. There is one moment regarding one of the characters that should have been quite shocking for me but I just kind of took it in stride because I found myself not all that invested, unfortunately. Perhaps part of my issue here was that I listened to this in audio and while the narrator did a fantastic job, sometimes my focus isn’t great in that medium and hence things ran together for me. I think I may have liked this one better if I’d read it in print.
The one other thing I did appreciate about this story, however, it does center around families. We don’t often see stories around families in fantasy so I think that’s something it really has going for it.
Overall, there are lots of things to love about Jade City–even if it was an average book for me maybe you’ll find something to absolutely love about it! I might still check out the next one, maybe I’ll be more in the mood for it next time around. 3.5/5 stars.