Every Monday, I recommend a book, TV show, movie, podcast, comic, or video game that are related to sci-fi/fantasy in some way. My goal in doing this is to draw attention to some great works as well as some amazing indie content producers.
For this week, I am recommending Jade City by Fonda Lee.
Billed as The Godfather meets Hong Kong gangster films with magic, this is one of the most original fantasy novels I have read in a long time. It follows the story of a crime clan/family on the fictional island of Kekon, where jade imbues wearers with magical abilities. Called Green Bone warriors, they have a long tradition of protecting both their domestic territory in the massive city of Janloon and their nation from foreign interests.
The characters are all very well-realized and you genuinely start caring about them, which given how they're locked in a gang war keeps you on the edge of your seat. I found myself very engrossed by the plot, which made it one of those rare "can't-put-it-down" books for me.
The worldbuilding is amazing and one of the best aspects of the novel. It takes place largely in the city of Janloon, which comes to life as rival clans fight for control of its many areas. The glimpses of the outside world we get are just as interesting, with countries and cultures being reminiscent of real nations without being clear copies. Being set in an 80s-ish era of technology with a World War II analogue and a revolution against foreign power hovering in the backstory make it all the more interesting.
I'm eagerly awaiting my trip to Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of the second book, Jade War, when it releases in paperback next week.