Six of Crows #1
by Leigh Bardugo
Published on September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
It’s… hard to talk about this book. Six of Crows is not my first experience with Bardugo’s writing (having read the Grisha trilogy) and while I found the style to be on par with what I expected — excellent — I’m not sure how I felt about the story overall.
Now I know everyone has given this book raving reviews and at the base level, it’s fabulous. The characters are well sculpted and highly diverse. The action is thrilling and filled with tension. And the writing is beyond beautiful. BUT (and I know I’m not in the majority here) this book didn’t stick with me like others I’ve read.
Clearly there’s a lot going on with five (yes, FIVE) points of view. Generally this many characters either goes really well, or is a crash-and-burn. Bardugo soared with this cast. The chapters, which switched between characters, were easy to follow and I never felt confused throughout the entire story. Yet I could also tell one character from the other based on the way they narrated.
This is the story of a great plot, and a great steal. The biggest job crooks like Kaz Brekker and crew could dream to pull off. And without every single player on this team he puts together, the book (and the plan) would never work.
Kaz is a piece of work. He’s merciless and, at times, cruel, but has earned the fierce loyalty of his followers. Though he’s not one to let others in, he finds himself unable to stop it from happening. His revenge drives his decisions but soon his friends become more important.
His Wraith, Inej, is one of my two favorites from this book. She’s quiet and thoughtful but of all of them is truest to the cause and to Kaz. Inej is fierce and is the last person I want to meet in a dark alley, but the first I’d want on my side.
Sharpshooter Jesper wasn’t really on my radar but I grew to appreciate his character and the dynamic he creates on the side with Wylan, who didn’t get his shining moment to share his point-of-view but I have a feeling he’ll get his chance soon enough. I can’t imagine these two not being a part of the team.
Then there’s Nina, my other favorite. And I’m not being sexist in picking the two ladies as my favorites, I promise. Where Inej is small and secretive, Nina has a big personality and isn’t afraid to show it. Plus, being a Grisha definitely earns a place in my books.
Finally Mattias. An honor-bound jerk who grudgingly comes to accept the rest of the team and move past his hatred of Nina for being Grisha. He didn’t really leave an impression on me and his character arc isn’t a new one.
As for the story…
Bardugo knows how to weave an intriguing, thrilling adventure. Pitting her characters against nature, each other, outsiders — you name it, they probably faced it in one way or another. I loved the idea of the heist and how they handled it, their individual motivations setting one apart from the other. I wasn’t a fan of all the characters being paired off with romance subplots, however. I’d hoped they’d be a group of friends bonded over the ordeal and that be central but after the cliffhanger of the end I’m expecting each pair to become more pronounced in the sequel.
Despite all of these wonderful things, however, I wasn’t itching to dive back in just yet. I read it, I enjoyed it, but that was about it. But perhaps the next book will leave a deeper impact.