Monday, October 24, 2016

Audiobook review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 536
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Review for book 1

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. 

Crooked Kingdom, I wanted to love you. I really, really did.

Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy is one of my top five favorite series of all time. In fact, it may be my favorite series, period. It's certainly the only one (other than Harry Potter) that I've collected foreign editions of. When I read Six of Crows earlier this year I was amazed that I didn't love it. I found incredibly slow and tedious and didn't come to love the characters like so many others seemed to. I thought that Crooked Kingdom might be just what I needed to love this series so I bought it on release day and immediately started reading... and I finally finished it (embarrassingly) 16 days later after switching to the audiobook halfway through. This is obviously just not the series for me.

Crooked Kingdom picks up right after the explosive ending of Six of Crows. Inej has been taken hostage and Kaz has been busy devising a plan to get her back and even the score. He is forever trying to break down Pekka Rollins "brick by brick" to get vengeance for his brother and each scheme is more incredible than the last. That's basically what this book is - Kaz's scheming. He makes a plan, they carry out the plan, it works or doesn't. Rinse and repeat. That is to say I found it a bit repetitive.

Despite the fact that this book (and the one before it) is 85% character building, I never grew to love the characters. Although it seems everyone else in the world is in love with Kaz Brekker, I'm left wondering where he gets his reputation for being ruthless when he never actually does anything especially terrible. It's somewhat disappointing for a character with the nickname "Dirty Hands." Inej was kind of sweet, I guess, and Nina was interesting. I enjoyed Jesper and Wylan enough and if I had to pick a favorite it might be Matthias, but honestly any of them could have died and I wouldn't have been terribly upset about it, as horrible as that may be. I'm just incredibly disappointed to not have connected with characters who everyone else apparently adores.

I also still never found the romance. Sure, a couple characters kissed once or twice, but for the most part I am baffled. I constantly see other people squeeing over how sweet and adorable the romance is, how perfect the characters are together. What is everyone else reading? I'm still wondering what I missed and hoping someone can point me towards the swoony romance.

The plot of Crooked Kingdom was interesting enough, but it was just so tedious. It dragged on forever. It's actually weird. I liked it enough while I was reading it, but I just couldn't find the motivation to keep picking it up each day. (Hence, why I switched to audio.) I read somewhere that this duology was originally supposed to be one book and I think I would've found that much more enjoyable since it would've been more fast paced.

One thing I did really enjoy was seeing some old faces from the original Grisha Trilogy. The cast of characters in the back of the book had me really hopeful for more but I was happy with what I got. I did find Kaz's backstory to be interesting and I liked the revenge plot, but there was never much doubt how things would end up so I didn't feel incredibly invested. I did like how Wylan's story played out. That was perhaps my favorite bit of the story itself.

Obviously, it's incredibly disappointing not to love a series by the author of what is arguably my favorite series of all time. The Six of Crows duology won't be going on my favorites shelf and I doubt I'll read it again, but I will definitely still read anything this author writes ever. If you loved Six of Crows, you'll probably love this one too! If you didn't, I wouldn't recommend this one because it's really more of the same.