Finding Jade is a fun YA fantasy about twins with powers who are called Seers. The heroine is a teenage girl Jasmine whose twin sister Jade mysteriously disappeared when they were kids. When she starts at a new school that turns out to be a training ground for up-and-coming Seers, she learns about her special powers, and is given the opportunity to rescue her twin from The-Place-in-Between where demons dwell. There are also beings called Protectors who are tasked with caring for Seers (somewhat like Giles’ role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
The mythology around Seers/Protectors/demons is kept pretty simple, which I liked. Many fantasy books have a tendency to overcomplicate the mythology (see: Divergent), but Payne gives us just enough information to know the roles these beings play in the story. Unfortunately, Payne may have gone a bit too far in terms of giving us too little information to latch on to. To be honest, I’m a bit muddled on the powers Seers have — they’re descendants of witches but don’t really do magic spells. Or Jasmine’s friend Raphael says Seers are stronger and faster than average but Jasmine seems pretty average physically. I’m also not clear on exactly what the demons want and why they’re moving into the human realm (to take over the world? Why?). But I figure these will be revealed in future books.
Finding Jade is a short book so some things resolve pretty quickly, which is great for pacing, but also at times, conveniently. For example, Jasmine has just found out she’s a Seer, is given the most basic overview of her powers, yet is sent to fight demons without any prior training. Then somehow, she is able to defeat a demon at the first try. It isn’t even that she’s a Chosen One or particularly brilliant (thank goodness!); it’s just that she is somehow able to do it. Because powers.
Finally, climate change keeps being brought up in the story, which is interesting because it’s relevant, especially the pieces of dialogue around terrorism and refugees and shutting down borders. But I’m not quite sure how it fits in with the main plot about the battle between Seers and demons in the Place-in-Between to find and save Jade. Will the Seers develop the power to reverse climate change? Will it be revealed that demons are actually behind the humans who want to enforce borders at the expense of refugee lives? Or is the climate change bit just a part of their reality and has nothing to do with Seer powers? The third option is how it seems in this book, so we’ll have to wait for future titles. There’s a time traveling element to the Place-in-Between, and if climate change is as key to the plot as it seems, I suppose there may have been an environmental message as well in the challenges Jasmine and the other Seers faced in the Place-in-Between. (e.g. The plague is caused by poor hygiene and the environment, and during the war, gas masks were required.) But the connection, if it was intentional, was a bit too subtle and at first, I didn’t realize it and wondered how the climate change aspect connected at all to the Place-in-Between.
Still, Finding Jade is a quick and fun read. I’m a bit confused about some of the elements, which don’t seem to fit together quite yet, but overall, I’m interested to see how these questions play out in future books. It’s an intriguing start to a series, and I’d recommend this for younger readers / pre-teens.
Thank you to Dundurn Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.