by Fonda Lee
18/25 (72%), 3.5 stars.
A predictable Urban Fantasy in a Hong Kongish setting that reveals what’s gonna come right at the start by its choice of narrators. Technically well-written but without a soul.
People: HOW DARE YOU SAY THIS HAS NO SOUL GAAAAAH!
Me: I feel you, people, but please respect this unpopular opinion. I’m gonna give you my reasons, please wait till I’m done, you can scream at me later, okay?
So. A disclaimer to start this thing off: This is obviously only my own opinion. There’s thousands of people who love this and I can see why you’d love this. However, it wasn’t for me. I’ve made excessive research to find out why and I’ve come up with three reasons:
1) I’m not an Urban Fantasy reader. My thing is the gritty, bloody medieval setting and while this is bloody sometimes, it couldn’t be more different from the types of worlds I enjoy – it’s not Westeros or Abercrombia (is there a name for the First Law world? :D), it’s simply Hong Kong. So my not being able to connect to this may just be a thing of taste.
2) Statistical evidence from last year has shown that I’m a completely character-driven reader. I’m willing to generously ignore blatant faults at worldbuilding and plot, I don’t need a fancy writing style – all I need is interesting characters and good dialogue. Jade City wasn’t able to give me memorable characters, I can already feel them slipping away from my short term-memory without making it to long-term. Why? I think most of them were totally stereotypical. More to why under ‚Characters‘.
3) I read Checkmate before this, and every book you read after your all-time favourite is bound to disappoint you.
These fancy reasons aside, here’s what I think about this book:
– Dialogue/Writing Style: I was okay with the dialogue, nothing special but not disappointing. Same goes for the prose in general. Of course the Asian names were something I had to adapt to starting it, but that wasn’t an issue for me. The pacing was a bit off to me, it went to total escalation a bit too fast imo.
– Setting: If you love Urban Fantasy, I’m assuming this will be great for you. One huge issue I had, especially at the start of this, was how obviously the whole magic system was just Allomancy broken down. I read Mistborn two weeks ago, so that was… basically jumping in my face. Also, Anden’s backstory was so much like Vin’s… I had a hard time especially at the start of this one.
– Characters: Sorry, stereotypical. I know all of those: the clever one and the angry one, the powerful youth. The only interesting character was Shae (poor Tyrion) with her backstory and unwillingness to just do as everyone else does. Which changes, sadly. I also found that Anden’s final decision was a lot out of character for him as he was such a steadfast tin soldier before whose aim it was to defend the clan. Also, the choice to have all three Kaul grandchildren as narrators told me right from the start which plotline would be coming – and I was right.
– Plot: So predictable. Sorry, but there was nothing here that surprised me in any way. I saw everything coming miles ahead.
So all in all, this was just a mediocre book to me. So mediocre that I won’t pick up the sequel immediately, instead I’ll let it rest on my shelf for a while… I shouldn’t have bought it before reading this, but it worked with Mistborn and so I got a little over-optimistic. Glad for everyone who loves this, but it’s not my thing.
Writing Style 4
18/25 -> 72%, 3.5 stars