This was my first ever Leigh Bardugo book and I'm so glad I finally read one of them. I loved the characters and the whole anti-hero hero thing that was going on throughout the entire story. Even though I had never read the Grisha Trilogy it wasn't necessary for me to understand Six of Crows or what was going on. The main characters were lovely and I absolutely loved how their stories were different from each other and that I had a clear favorite (Inej, btws) and that it didn't keep me from loving the others.
I hope to re-read the book again before Crooked Kingdom comes out in September. Maybe this time around I won't rush through it and miss details. I also hope to read the Grisha Trilogy to get me more into the world. I give the book four out of five stars.
Spoiler Free Section (insert all-is-well cliché)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo occurs in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy yet readers need not fear – you don’t need to have read the Grisha Trilogy to understand and enjoy this book. In fact, I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy but I enjoyed the book immensely – enough that its ending left me breathless and craving more. The characters are interesting and diverse and the adventure is captivating. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to young adult/adult fantasy readers.
Spoiler Section (insert cliché about hidden dangers to those who haven’t read the book yet)
First, I would like to indulge myself in a tiny little explosion: OH MY GOD THE BOOK ENDED ON A CLIFFHANGER AND I NEED THE NEXT ONE BY YESTERDAY!
Okay, now that’s out of the way, let me back up a bit. This book follows six character from the bad side of town (the Barrel.) Normally, they would be the bad guys but not here and Bardugo writes them in such a way that you not only sympathize with them but you root for them too. Each of the characters’ backstories were well developed without slipping into the trap of info-dumping. There were a few times when the transition from present tense to memory was a little too well hidden and I had to go back to see what the heck just happened but this didn’t happen overly often and it was easily worked through.
The adventure was interesting – the crew is given an impossible task of breaking into an impenetrable fortress to steal a very important person. Seems like something everyone who’s ever read fantasy has read before but Bardugo manages to expand on that in her own unique way so that the adventure is very much its own story. There were a few dull parts such as when the group is trekking through the cold forest on the far side of the island to sneak into the fortress from an unexpected angle but these are well made up for by the intense action scenes that follow.
The action and adventure isn’t what sold me on this book, though. The characters are. Each was different and by switching point of view between each of them, the story balanced out nicely. Kaz and Inej are my favorites, of course. Especially Inej who went from being a scared girl forced to serve in a whore house to a lethal protector of her friends (seriously, I would much rather be her friend than her enemy – a person lives longer that way.) The best part about these two is that they both went through horrible situations but they evolved differently. Inej maintained her faith and believed deeply in a better future where she is free to hunt down slaver ships like the ones that kidnapped her. Kaz became this very bitter, isolated person driven by rage but also by his own fear. Despite the fact they seem to be made from different cloths, they work well together as a couple and I really hope to see them come together in later books because they manage to save each other. Kaz makes Inej the deadly wraith and Inej is slowly coaxing Kaz out of his armor.
Jesper and Wylan are another duo that I really like. I definitely didn’t predict that Jesper was a Farbikator and his struggle with that and his conscious make him a dynamic character. He’s also very funny on the outside and I like the way he’s layered. Wylan, the runaway merch genius that can’t read is sweet and adorable but surprisingly adaptable and durable. I like the way he grows in this book under the influence of his compatriots. The one part about these two that really confused me was I felt there were several hints that they might be attracted to each other as more than friends but that was never elaborated on. I think they would make an interesting pair, to be honest, because they are essentially cut from the same cloth and their chemistry together is great. However, if that was the intent there, I think that could have been made more clear. No point in shying away from it.
Finally, we have Nina and Matthias, the star crossed lovers. Both bred to hate and kill each other yet inexplicably attracted to one another. While I found these two a bit cliché I also liked them. I am a little wary of the idea (assume Jesper and Wylan are meant to be a couple) that all six members of the team are going to be pairing up as though they were some part of match making service. Still, I think the way that these two have such a dramatic and twisting past together which influences their present is great. Again, I thought their relationship wasn’t anything new but I still enjoyed it.
I could go on and on about this book because it carries so much in it. The ending leaves the reader waiting anxiously for the next book and I will admit I was so upset that the book ended and the second book wasn’t out yet that I threw my book into the center of the room for half an hour. I call it purgatory but it’s really just a time out zone for the books that make me so emotional I can’t handle it. In all seriousness though, I highly recommend this book.
Spoiler Free zone
While I felt this book had a decent premise, I feel it could use a few more edits. I felt the writing itself could have been better handled and that the story line tried to do too much, thus causing it to be convoluted and, at points, uninteresting. Perhaps after going through a serious editing process, this book will be made great but as it stands now I can only give it a 1.5 out of 5 stars and I don’t personally recommend it to anyone.
The first and most pressing issue in this book is that that writing needed to be handled better. By that I mean that there was a lot of simple grammar mistakes and a lot of the writing fell into the same traps writing schools teach against. There was even an entire chapter that was repeated in the book which implies that the book was never given any serious thought. Furthermore, the point of view shifted so frequently and without any sort of transition that it was really hard to tell who the speaker of each section was and where they were. In fact, the timeline itself gets lost in the constantly shifting point of view. Especially since, due to these shifts, the author kept going back in time to tell the reader what was going on with a different character during the same time that other things went on with the rest of the group.
The other issue is I felt this book followed the cliché of the horror genre: big evil bad guy kills nearly everyone in the story in the most bloody and gruesome way possible until a special hero is able to kill the bad guy. It read like something I’ve read before which isn’t a good sign since I typically don’t read or watch anything in the horror genre (because I’m a big scardy-cat.)
At some point, I had to start keeping a list of who was dead because it felt like the number of bodies piled up so quickly. The other reason it was so difficult for me to keep track of who was dead and who was still alive is because there were just so many characters and they were so underdeveloped that I really didn’t know who they were or feel connected to them. In fact, I would have to go through the book even as I write this review to remember the names of the characters because the characters seemed so unimportant to the story that I’ve forgotten them.
There were a lot of good threads that I felt were started in this book but they weren’t ever brought to a satisfying close. There was the question of religion which is brought in through the creation of these creatures, the question of life and death with the thought of ghosts interacting with living people, and there was the question of who really was the monster when the monsters bring up the fact that humans destroy everyone and everything around them anyway. There was so much in this story and I would have loved if the author had picked one of them and elaborated it into a concrete idea. There is something in this book that works, it just has to be unburied from under the parts that aren’t working.
There were also a lot of strange additions to the story that I don’t understand the purpose for. For example, when the two kidnappers/ would be murderers appear, I thought it might have a purpose. But in the end, the three new characters were killed so quickly after their appearance they didn’t need to be there. In fact, one was killed off set and his death only briefly mentioned.
I recommend the author take this book to an editor and work on rewriting it. I think with a lot of work, this could be a great book. However, right now its reads as a hastily written first draft.
Spoiler free zone – the bunny slopes
Revelations is the third and final book of the Bloodlines Trilogy by Lindsey Anne Kendal and it was an excellent conclusion. It brings all the story lines woven through the first two books to a satisfying conclusion. I give this book a four out of five stars and recommend the entire trilogy for any magic loving readers ages fifteen and up.
Spoiler-full section – Please sign this waiver form absolving us of all possible trauma before continuing
For most of this book, I was torn between losing my cool and keeping faith with our intrepid main character Keira. While part of me was pretty certain she would never betray her friends and family, Kendal managed to write Lucifer and Kiera’s reactions so well that it was hard not to believe them. It helped that they were the only two who knew anything about the plan, making all the other events in the book so much real as the character’s reacted so sincerely.
The main part that inserted the seed of doubt in my mind, though, was when Lucien almost died and Marshall was presumed dead and missing. It didn’t seem like something that Kiera would do if she were pretending to be part of Ballentine’s army. In fact, even at the end after all the fighting is over, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to poor Marshall. Was he just collateral damage? I was more than a little relieved when it turned out he had just been kept out of the way, safe and asleep, so as to make it more believable.
I had to stop at one point, not because the writing was bad (because it was brilliantly written, just as all the other books had been) but because my heart was torn to shreds. That was when Kiera attacked Eligos with the same sword he’d given her. I love their relationship and it was terrifying to think that she was throwing this all away.
However, throughout all of this, I kept a thread of faith that this was an act to bring down the enemy so I was relieved but also not overly surprised when Lucifer hugged Kiera and it was revealed to everyone their master plan.
I wasn’t surprised that Steve was Ballentine. I think Kendal left brilliant little breadcrumbs throughout the whole story which made it possible to figure out what was going on but not so obvious that the book wasn’t worth reading because there was still mystery to be found. It was a great adventure and honestly, I wouldn’t mind re-reading this trilogy.
The main question that we keep being asked as a club is which books we liked the best and I have to say that the first and third books of this trilogy are my favorite. Initially, I thought the first book was my most favorite because my heart wasn’t torn apart as badly. However, now that I have had time to calm down (because it was an emotional journey to read these books and grow with the characters,) I realize I actually like the third book more because it was the one that made me react the most.
In all honesty, though, Kendel is an amazing writer and that shines through in this trilogy. If you haven’t read these books yet, I recommend you do.