K.J. Charles's Reviews > Jade City

Jade City by Fonda Lee
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bookshelves: contemporary, dnf, pass, fantasy, its-not-you-its-me

First thing: this is a very good book. It's set in an invented Asian country with a really fleshed out history and culture. The immense cast is a bit overwhelming at first but is handled with sufficient skill and depth that we really get to know them very quickly and to invest in them. The writing is vivid, the plotting is twisty and engaging.

It's a gangster novel. It's all about the basically decent people who've become part of this gang culture as a matter of honour, leading to huge amounts of ruthlessness, betrayal and violence. Characters you like die or are corrupted. If you like The Godfather you'll love this, it's really well done.

My problem is, I bought this on the back of a blurb that sold it as a fantasy novel. There are fantasy elements but they're minimal. Beyond the made-up but entirely realistic modern country, there's just the jade, which gives certain people powers to, basically, fight like people in wu xia films. Which is fabulous, don't get me wrong. The Godfather meets wu xia is a brilliant idea, this would make a great 18-rated film. But it's not really fantasy, not at its core. You could do this with the jade replaced by a newly developed drug that amps up human speed and strength but has side effects and is being fought over as a resource and get pretty much the same effect. Come to this book for a super-involving Asian-set gangster saga with loads of violence and the fantasy very much on the side (to date, about 300 pp in).

But I am DNFing because *I wanted to read a goddamn fantasy novel*, I wasn't in the mood for a gangster book, I don't actually like them, I'm annoyed I read half of a pretty large book and then had to bail out because I was given the wrong expectations. I just checked Amazon.co.uk, where apparently the publisher has realised that it's better to sell the book you have because the tagline there is "Two crime families, one source of power" and the blurb reflects that. That's a good blurb. I wouldn't have started reading it given that expectation, and then I wouldn't have left an annoyed review. But then I checked Kobo and the tagline is different *again*--"An epic saga reminiscent of The Godfather with magic and kungfu, set in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis" and it still has the GR blurb. That's just shambolic on the publisher's part. This is multi award nominated and nobody's bothered to line up the goddamn marketing.

Bah. Anyway, I'd recommend this highly if you want The Godfather meets wu xia, and I hope to be in the mood to finish it at some point.
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Reading Progress

June 11, 2018 – Started Reading
June 11, 2018 – Shelved
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: contemporary
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: dnf
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: pass
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: its-not-you-its-me
June 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

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