Jade War – Fonda Lee

Jade War

Summary

Barely keeping their heads above water in a vicious war among the Green Bones that control the use of jade on Kekon, No Peak clan relies on family to survive. But with all the wrong people in all the wrong jobs, and circumstances bring in more and more foreign influence, things just keep getting worse.

Review

I’ve never been a fan of the Godfather movies (let alone the books). Maybe that explains my reaction to this series. While the first book, Jade City, was essentially political, this second volume focuses more on the smaller scale family relationships of the protagonists. But while it’s more intimate, it’s still just a mafia book with a fancy coating. I’m just not that interested in mobsters, and that’s what these characters are – people who abuse others just to maintain the special status they think they deserve. (Though despite their status, the clan leaders seem to spend a lot of time on tasks better suited for lower-ranked clan members, and not because they’re humble.)

The book is well written, and to her credit, Lee does at times acknowledge the protagonists’ character flaws, but most of the time, we’re asked to empathize with people who, to my view, were pretty reprehensible – brutal, violent, corrupt, self-centered. The fact that their rivals are slightly worse didn’t make up for it. I just didn’t find the combination very interesting. If you like gangster stories with a touch of fantasy, this might be right up your alley. For me, and despite the very competent prose, it was a struggle to finish – and at that, it took substantial willpower and a determination to power through to the end.

This sequel takes place soon after the events in Jade City, and it reads as a pretty seamless continuation. For me, hopeful for a change, that made things worse. I also still, two books in, didn’t understand why opponents of Green Bones didn’t just bring in guns and shoot them all.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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