Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 465
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Review for book 2

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.

So here's the thing: I am obsessed with The Grisha Trilogy. It is probably my favorite series and the only one (besides Harry Potter) that I own multiple copies of from multiple countries just because it's pretty. But something about Six of Crows made me wary when it first came out and, although I bought a signed copy soon after release, it has taken me until now to read it. I just wasn't sure I could love it as much as Alina's story.

Six of Crows is about members of a gang called the Dregs in Ketterdam, a trade city set in the same universe as The Grisha Trilogy. Each member has unique abilities that makes them valuable to the team, which has been chosen by Kaz Brekker to pull of a deadly heist. I'll admit, this is not a description that really appeals to me, which is part of the reason that I took so long to finally read this. Still, just about every single blogger I know has recommend this book to me and Leigh Bardugo did write it, so I fully expected to be blown away.

One of the aspects of this book that people have gone on and on about is the characters and how incredible each of them is. Six of Crows is told from five points of view (with a couple others thrown in for good measure). In general, I hate books with switching POVs, especially when there's an excessive number, but I'll admit it worked here. The viewpoint changed to keep the most important events at center stage and it also really helped in getting to know each character. I wouldn't go as far as saying I loved all of them though.

The characters I most enjoyed were Nina, Matthias, and Jesper. I loved Nina's fire and wit and loved each of her chapters! I liked the struggle I saw in Matthias and felt he had the most growth of all the characters. Jesper was just the most fun to read about! The other characters I didn't quite connect with and, honestly, I'm still unsure what to think of Kaz. I know a lot of people absolutely adore him but he didn't seem to change much from beginning to end and I'm still waiting for Crooked Kingdom to see if he has any redeeming qualities. People have also gone on and on about the romance and how wonderfully swoon-worthy it all was. Now that it's over I'm really just wondering what I missed. Could someone please point me to the swoony romance?

Something I did really enjoy was the world building, which was almost as incredible as it was in The Grisha Trilogy! I loved getting to explore new parts of the Grishaverse that I'd never seen before. I especially loved Fjerda and the Ice Court. That being said, I had a really hard time coming to grips with Ketterdam belonging to the same world as Ravka. The city itself was really well done, but it all seemed so far removed that it took me awhile to make it work in my head. Leigh Bardugo said the world of Six of Crows would be familiar to fans of The Grisha Trilogy, but Ketterdam seemed way more like a modern city than the fantasy world of the Grisha.

But let's talk about the plot - there's a super amazing, dangerous heist, right! Well, um... Eventually? Kind of? The first 75% of this book is getting ready to carry out the heist and backstory, about 15% is the actual heist action, and the last 10% is finding out whether they were successful and setting up a cliffhanger for Crooked Kingdom. To put it simply, I was bored. A lot. The pacing of Six of Crows almost killed me. If Leigh Bardugo hadn't written this book, I would have probably DNF'd it really early on. It did finally pick up at around page 350 and the last 100 pages were really interesting, but it should not take 350 pages to feel invested. There were some really good twists, which I always appreciate, but it just wasn't enough to blow me away.

I wanted to love this book SO much! I wanted it to be an incredible addition to the Grishaverse. I wanted to buy it in multiple languages and have an entire Grisha shelf in my library, but Six of Crows just wasn't everything I'd hoped it would be. Were the characters great? Half of them. Was the world incredible? Parts of it. Was the plot fantastic? Some of it. And that's really my problem with this book. Some of it was really good, but some of it was incredibly underwhelming. I still have every intention of reading Crooked Kingdom because it's a Grisha book and I want more of the universe, but I'm really sad to say I can't add this series to my favorites shelf.