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.