Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Jade City"

Fonda Lee is the award-winning author of the gangster fantasy saga Jade City and the young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer and Exo. Lee is a recovering corporate strategist, a black belt martial artist, and an action movie aficionado. She loves a good Eggs Benedict. Born and raised in Canada, she now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Lee applied the Page 69 Test to Jade City and reported the following:
Jade City is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy. While it has magic jade, gangsters, political intrigue, and martial arts battles, at its heart, it’s a story about a family—the Kauls. On page 69, we witness a conversation between two of the main characters, Hilo and his adopted younger cousin, Anden. Hilo is the Horn (chief enforcer and military leader) of the family clan. He thinks of Anden as his protégé and is grooming him to be a jade-wielding commander like himself.
“You have to pay attention this year and start thinking about which of your classmates you’ll want as your Fingers. Skill is important, but not everything. You want the ones who are loyal and disciplined. Who won’t start shit but won’t take any either.”

The combination of the adrenaline crash and Hilo’s words made Anden’s fingers shake. He took a drag on the cigarette. “Kaul-jen,” he started.

“Godsdamnit, Andy. Do I have to beat you up some more? Stop talking to me like that.” He threw his arm around Anden’s shoulders. Anden flinched, but Hilo pulled him in and gave him a fierce kiss on the cheek. “You’re as much my brother as Lan is. You know that.”
Anden is one of my favorite characters. 18 years old, mixed-race, and queer, he’s still a student but wants very much to fit into the clan of the powerful Kaul family. Despite his cousin’s assurances, he harbors doubts about his ability to do so.
Anden felt a rush of embarrassed warmth. He couldn’t help glancing around to see if anyone had witnessed Hilo’s outburst of affection.

Hilo noticed, and teased, “What, are you worried about them getting the wrong idea? ’Cause they know you like boys?” When Anden stared at him, stunned, Hilo laughed. “I’m not stupid, cousin. Some of the most powerful Green Bones in history were queers. You think it matters to me? Just don’t forget: Soon you’ll have to be careful about who you’re with, who might be eying you for your green.”

Anden sat down heavily on the stone retaining wall. […] “Hilo,” he said slowly, “what if I can’t handle jade after all? What if it’s not in me? I’m only half Kekonese.”
The overt and the subtle frictions between members of the Kaul family will have enormous influence on what happens throughout the story, and in this interaction, we get a sense that those relationships will be sorely tested. Hilo and Anden play a pivotal role together in the climax of the book roughly four hundred pages later, one that will forever change them both, so readers who’re intrigued by their conversation on page 69 won’t be disappointed.
Visit Fonda Lee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue