Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1; Grisha Verse #4
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Rating: 3/5 stars ★★★
“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
3 of 5 stars to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
In summary, this book has a great plot with characters of interesting backgrounds, but failed in the most important aspect: execution. Bad pacing and flat story-telling ultimately made the reading experience boring despite it being an adventure book.
A more lengthy review with spoilers:
This has all the makings of a great bookㅡdecent writing, characters of depth and diveristy, action and adventure, a bit of romanceㅡexcept for that one tiny (albeit VERY important) detail that almost trumped out everything else: good pacing.
Sometimes, all a book really needs is a good pace and readers would be guaranteed to enjoy it or at the very least, finish it with eagerness. The biggest problem I had with Six of Crows is that it was so freaking slow and that while the author’s writing did improve, it somehow became boring. She had a good story but she’s only a mediocre story-teller.
It pains me that I was so excited to start this new series only to end up losing interest not even halfway into the first book. I had a lot of issues with the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but never once did I feel bored reading it. The opposite is true for Six of Crows. All my original issues from Shadow and Bone were addressed in this book. Better writing? Check. Better characterization? Check. It was almost guaranteed to be a five-star read for me! But alas, it was too good to be true. All those improvements for nothing.. because the slow pacing made the experience flat anyway. Sometimes, it even felt like a chore to pick the book up and read again where I left off. And reading should never feel that way.
It’s a wonder how boring the story was when it should have been exciting because it’s essentially an adventure. Adventure usually equals lots of excitement. I’ll blame it on the writing. The author did improveㅡshe sounds better with a third person pov compared to the first person pov she used in Shadow and Bone trilogy, less juvenile this way, more mature sounding if you mayㅡbut the way the action was told was rather monotone.
Another problem I had with the book is the lack of connection to the main leads, Kaz and Inej. Specifically, I felt indifference to their “romance.” As individuals, their stories were touching but as a couple, the chemistry was just MISSING. I think it comes down to the writing AGAIN. You see, the author put several second leads in this particular series and she gave each one proper characterizationsㅡsomething I asked for in the Shadow and Bone trilogy (I felt that the minor characters there didn’t have strong characterizations that’s why I couldn’t care for them less even if they died) and yay for that! BUT, if she was going to put several leads, she should have made the MAIN ones more memorable/prominent. Granted, Kaz and Inej had rich back stories and nuances to their characters but the romance was meh and in fact, Nina and Matthias stole the show (romance wise, also character wise arguably). If I were to believe in Kaz and Inej’s love for each other, I have to know how their feelings grew. The author gave me nothing. There was the flashback to how they met and then.. nothing. Not even crumbs or tiny moments to hold onto. Some time between that first meeting and the present, they developed feelings. As to how? Only the author knows. It’s hard to root for a couple when you’re given the bare minimum. Nina and Matthias’s love story, on the other hand, had great foundation, there were actual interactions both from the past and the present. Their romantic plot more convincing.
Now, why am I talking about the romance in such great length when it’s obvious that it’s not the focus of the story? Because the romance needed to be believable, gripping even, if I were going to be excited for book two (which obviously, I’m not). Inej gets kidnapped at the end and it’s only then does Kaz acknowledge his feelings for her. Hooray (not).
And since we’re already on the topic of the characters, I also had a hard time completely rooting for anyone. I know I said earlier that they had good characterizations but still, I had a hard time connecting to them because the pov is different every chapter. I could be feeling this chapter about one character, and then it would end, and the next one would be about a different character, so whatever emotions I’ve banked from the previous chapter would be forgotten as the focus shifts to another topic/person. Generally, it just comes down to ineffectual writing because I have read books that featured prominent second leads/minor characters that I actually loved but didn’t take away from the main ones who I also loved (example: Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares).
The switching pov’s can be a bit disorienting or confusing too as they essentially sound the same. Flashbacks also happen rather suddenly. Those with marks are pretty identifiable over time but there are also tiny flashbacks during a character’s thought process that wasn’t immediately obvious (example at the end during Rollins chapter).
Anyway, I’ve been talking a lot about the bad points of the book so I shall dive into the good ones too. If you’re still interested, go right along.
First, diversity. Representation is always good. This is also something that wasn’t highlighted in Shadow and Bone trilogy so kudos to the author for showcasing a diverse range of characters in this series. We have Nina who is a plus size, Inej who has brown skin, Jesper who is black and Wylan who is dyslexic are both gay, and finally, Kaz who is a pwd.
Second, character nuances. I love that the actual leads have layers to their characters. It’s not just bad or good but a lot of in betweens. They have immoral actions but they have virtues too.
Finally, I love how every single one of the characters are living their second chances. All of them suffered or made mistakes in the past but their present is about making amends or seeking justice (this last bit is a little on the revenge side but we each define justice differently anyway).
To summarize, Six of Crows maybe boring but it still has its own charms, perhaps charms not as sparkling as the Shadow and Bone trilogy (one could argue against this- it’s really just all about taste) but they’re charms nonetheless, it will for sure appeal to someone. However, I’m doubtful if I will read book two but if I ever do, I know that it won’t be anytime soon.
(Sorry for not adding a moodboard or any graphics at all for this post. The book just didn’t inspire me. :/)