accepting fates and changing destinies | jade fire gold by june c.l. tan

by - 7:15 PM

"Children are not born with the fear of falling. It is life that conditions them to be afraid."

 isbn: 9780063056367 | pages: 464
     publication date: October 12, 2021 | source: ebook/net-galley
     genre: young adult, fantasy 
     rating: 6.8/10 

    A M A Z O N    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    B O O K S H O P * 
B O O K D E P O S I T O R Y    |    B A R N E S A N D N O B L E S

immediate interest
Jade Fire Gold
 is easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year and after months of expressing my excitement for this novel, it's finally released into the world. June C.L. Tan's debut is pitched as a "what if the Katara from ATLA was the dark avatar and Zuko was tasked to hunt her down" and that immediately caught my attention. The premise interwoven with the wuxia inspired fantasy world make this a story that I wished my high-school self could have read. 

Ahn is the definition of a reluctant chosen one whose fate was essentially predetermined because of the powers she's born with. Growing up in an impoverished town, she longs to escape and explore the world though her journey ends up being one she doesn't expect. Her unlikely alliance with Altan, the exiled prince, brings together tropes that are typically found in YA fantasy novels which make the characters familiar and their stories engaging. 

As a debut novel, I knew not to get my hopes super high especially after reading some reviews online. If I were to review this from a very critical perspective, I would have to point the biggest flaw of the story being its pacing. Despite the world being interesting at first, the actual storytelling doesn't go as smoothly and had a lot lulling moments that would be intercepted by action before falling back. It actually shocked me to find that this novel is over 450 pages because it almost feels like very little happens in the actual plot.

a beginning that opens to more
However, I couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia for this story that blurred that "critical" reading lens. I know without a doubt that if I had read this as a high schooler when I consumed so many fantasies with a Caucasian cast of characters set in a Euro-centric inspired world, I would have fallen in love with the story. It makes me all the more grateful that stories like this, with this representation, is starting to be more visibly accessible in media because 15-yr-old me could not imagine reading stories in a fantasy world inspired by the wuxia dramas my parents watch.

The cast of characters in Jade Fire Gold, especially the side cast, have grown on me with their camaraderie and banter. While Ahn and Altan could have definitely used some development in their own character arcs, I still enjoyed following their story. For a debut, Jade Fire Gold sets up a decent opening to a new fantasy world and the possibility for the author to continue growing and honing her craft. And while it might not have exceeded my expectations, it didn't leave me feel disappointed but intrigued to see what will happen next.

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