Book Review: JADE CITY by Fonda Lee

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: Yes - first book in trilogy


Book cover for JADE CITY: title in bright green on textured dark green background

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


JADE CITY is a book that was recommended to me by friends, and I’m not very sure what rating to give it – hopefully writing out this review will help me work it out.

It is a good book, but I also had to fight my way through several points. It’s a brilliant world, intricately drawn, and I loved the premise and overall plot. The gang war over a resource, mixed with hints of a much larger world and the politics were all things that I naturally loved.

However, it did take me a fair bit of time to get into the book. It’s a slow-paced story at first, setting up the many characters who play a role. The size of the cast and the writing style made it a little tricky for me to latch onto one character initially, particularly as the first character introduced is really minor (and selfish/greedy), and I usually latch onto the first character.

Eventually, though, I got into the rhythm of the book, and found a character I liked more than the others to follow as my “principle lens.” I need that for books with more than two POVs, because I need to root for one side, one person, and relate everything back to them, otherwise the book feels too broad and confusing trying to like all of them.

Unfortunately for me, that character then died at the 60% mark.

It makes perfect sense from a plot point of view, and escalates the book into the final act. However, that was the character I liked the most and was most engaged by their personality. This meant that I went into the final 40% very rockily, as I was having to suddenly connect to characters who I hadn’t been particularly interested in up until then. It made for an uneasy few chapters as I got back into the swing of the book.

Once I’d acclimatised, the book sucked me back in with superb pacing as the world started to fall apart around the Kaul siblings and war erupted. It was a very compelling ending, and I am interested in the next book, which luckily is sitting on my shelf.

And so I’m still not sure whether this is a 3 or 4 star book, so I think I will hedge my bets and call it 3.5 stars!

Read my reviews of other books by Fonda Lee:

The Green Bone Saga (this series):


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