Allison Hurd's Reviews > Jade City

Jade City by Fonda Lee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: authors-of-color, fantasy, fem-author, sff-bookshelf, sff-2018-challenge, urban-fantasy

It has gangs and the brotherhood at arms against all odds. It had well conceptualized people with hopes and fears and flaws trying to reconcile what they want and what they're doing. It had fight scenes that got my heart racing. In short, I really, really, enjoyed this book.

CONTENT WARNING (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The setting. A sort of alt-Hong Kong. I haven't been to Hong Kong, so I kept picturing Taipei. A metropolis surrounded by mountains, jungles and beautiful beaches, still reconciling new, old, oppression and freedom. Delightful.

-The characters. Seriously, all of them. I empathized or at least was intrigued by...all of them. The druggies, the abusive old dudes, the enemies, and of course the protagonists. They all breathed for me and Lee was able to capture enough of all of them that they never felt wooden--there were only maybe 5 or 6 uke in the whole book, and none of them had speaking roles. I was legitimately afraid when the bad people were on screen and angry when the good people were thwarted.

-The writing. Aside from a love of the word "nonplussed," the writing was perfect for me in that it never got in the way. It painted a movie in my head, a minimalist style that worked beautifully with this story.

-The pacing. So, I loved the slow beginning because I loved all the characters and the backdrop of the mafia/yakuza type world. But at a certain point it goes from gently fascinating to full on free for all and it was a glorious ride. I lagged briefly when the initial shock wore off but then I was sucked back in.

-The story. It's all subverted expectations, driven by characters who have definite feelings about what's going on and reasonable reactions to those situations that lead to epic moments.

Things that I wanted to be a bit better:

-The twist. I wanted a little more ground work so that this really was a gut punch I couldn't block. It was good but it could have been perfect.

-The denouement. After all the bluster, I think a few things should have been fleshed out more. I was still riding the high from earlier, a gentler set down would have brought me to the tears I was threatening.

Usually 5 star reads for me I have nothing to declare as a detraction, so this one's a bit odd. I slept on it, but it moved me to misty-eyed, it made me chuckle, I really felt for all the characters and the action had my heart racing. Sometimes perfection is the enemy of greatness and I thought this book was great. I can't wait to read the next one. If you like wuxia flicks, stories of honor among thieves or just great characters, I highly recommend trying it yourself.
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2018 – Shelved
April 2, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
December 1, 2018 – Started Reading
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: authors-of-color
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: fem-author
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: sff-bookshelf
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: sff-2018-challenge
December 1, 2018 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
December 2, 2018 –
page 18
3.61% "So far I like it."
December 3, 2018 –
page 47
9.44% "She must be planning something like betrayal."
December 4, 2018 –
page 74
December 4, 2018 –
page 74
December 5, 2018 –
page 99
19.88% "Slow is not the word I'd use so far! Maybe this is just what I needed now."
December 6, 2018 –
page 128
25.7% "I really enjoy how well the author builds the layers of trust, sows doubt and salts everything with human inconsistency."
December 7, 2018 –
page 157
December 7, 2018 –
page 157
December 8, 2018 –
page 205
41.16% "Loving this book. Wuxia gangs with complex human emotions."
December 9, 2018 –
page 247
December 10, 2018 –
page 298
59.84% "Whoa."
December 11, 2018 –
page 363
72.89% "So curious how they're gonna fix this."
December 12, 2018 –
page 497
99.8% "Gonna be tired. Worth it!"
December 13, 2018 – Finished Reading

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