Book Review: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Cover:

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Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis:

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.”

Review:

Once again we find ourselves with a book whose synopsis doesn’t quite do it justice. Six of Crows is set in a fantasy world where there are people called the Grisha — people who can use magic. Only a select few (and I believe it is a hereditary trait) can wield magic, and those who can fall into a specific category.

Grisha’s powers are enhanced slightly by what’s called the jurda plant, but a scientist makes a drug called the jurda parem — highly addictive, but it is capable of magnifying the abilities of the Grisha. Our six convicts (Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias) are trying to break this scientist out of a place called the Ice Court, where this scientist is being held captive by one of the world’s countries.

The story’s plot is fairly basic, but Six of Crows still managed to keep me hooked. For one thing, Leigh Bardugo did an amazing job at showing the different cultures. Although we don’t actually get to see many places in Six of Crows, we manage to get a glimpse, a taste, of the different countries because Ketterdam, where our crew forms up, is not the hometown of any of the characters.

Bardugo also managed to do a fantastic job of building realistic characters. With the help of actions and dialogue and flashbacks, Bardugo managed to show us her characters rather well. You’d probably expect this from a group of self-proclaimed criminals, but all of them had pretty sad backstories that made me love the characters even more. Inej was perhaps one of my favorite characters.

Even better, Bardugo weaves diversity into her character’s story. Inej’s physical appearance, I believe, is quite similar to that of people from India. Jesper is quite clearly dark-skinned, and is hinted to be either bisexual or simply gay. Wylan, who is white, is also gay (I believe. It’s never explicitly stated, but hinted at when the occasion permits). Nina, I believe, is not white either, but I couldn’t guess where Bardugo got her inspiration from. Spain, perhaps?

There’s a bit of romance in here, but Leigh Bardugo did exactly what I love to see: the romance doesn’t take center stage, and develops as it will over the course of the story. I loved Inej’s decision to be strong on her own two feet. I loved seeing the banter between Wylan and Jesper. Nina and Matthias have their own thing going, but I’m not even going to get started on that bumpy relationship.

Yet, despite how hard I found the book to put down and how much I loved the characters, I am only going to give this book 4 stars.

Perhaps one of my biggest issues with this book — and it is, of course, relatively small compared to everything else that I liked about it — was that the plot hinged haphazardly on Kaz’s impossibly good planning skills. I can believe that Kaz has a brilliant mind, but find it a bit hard to believe that his plan was able to, on multiple occasions, result in one character being in the right place at the right time to rescue another character. This doesn’t happen distractingly often, but it did happen often enough for me to take note of it.

My only other problem, more minor than the first but still an issue for me, was that there was quite a bit of dialogue. Each chapter was supposed to have been written in the perspective of one character, but I remember on at least one occasion reading a scene and seeing just dialogue and action/speech tags, not knowing who was supposed to be the speaker. A few internal thoughts during the conversation would not have gone amiss.

Those two issues aside, though, I do think that this was a really good book, and I cannot wait for Crooked Kingdom. I would highly recommend you read this.

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