Lee has created an entire modern world here, complete and round with its own history, customs, traditions, language. In Jade City she built it up and tore it down again. And in her newest, Jade War, she shakes up the pieces that remain and sets half the world on fire ... Lee moves between these worlds with the grace of a dancer. She is just as comfortable in the wide shot of international relations as she is close-up, in a conversation between estranged brothers or dire enemies or a husband and wife in bed. She can walk a battlefield as artfully as she describes a knife fight, and all of it is beautiful, oddly restrained, compulsively readable as Lee bounces between viewpoints, characters and storylines that each spend hundreds of pages naturally converging in cinematic, firework-bright bursts of action ... If The Godfather never was, Jade War (and Jade City) would be how we define generational organized crime stories today ... [Lee] juggles the personal and the epic with deft, admirable skill, weaving a story that is equally sweeping and intimate; a magical, almost operatic crime and family drama that feels all the more true because all of her jade-fueled supermen (and women) come with human hearts that bend and break the same as ours.
This smart and action-filled fantasy, filled with vibrant characters, weaves intricate plot threads throughout, positioning many female characters front and center ... The follow-up to Lee’s Jade City delves further into her Asia-inspired world, embracing topics of family, relocation, and relations between rival factions. The setup for the final book will leave readers breathless with anticipation.
Stylistically, Jade City feels as though it mixes The Legend of Korra with Gangs of New York and a generous helping of Hong Kong action cinema. Lee builds a vivid, densely believable world, and a vivid, densely believable city: Kekon’s cars and televisions, its economic boom and history of conflict, exist in productive tension with its traditions and its clans, its jade and the code known as aisho, its gambling dens and restaurants and boardrooms. A deep attention to detail gives us a view of a society—and people within that society—not all quite yet at home with the changes that have occurred. Shae and Wen, Hilo’s lover, let us see that despite some changes, patriarchal ways of thinking (and hypocrisy) have a deep hold on Kekonese life and on No Peak clan, but we also see that a great deal of change has occurred since their grandfather’s heyday. Lee’s characters are vibrantly human, who have the virtues of their flaws, and the flaws of their virtues ... Excellently-paced and brilliantly constructed, Jade City glitters with life. It’s immensely compelling—and very satisfying as a mob narrative—and I really hope Fonda Lee writes more in this world.