Listening to the volatile voice of hype, I picked up Six of Crows. No regrets. It was amazing and it shredded my heart and now I’m desperate for Crooked Kingdom. The agony of reading *sadly shakes head*
Since I loved this book so much, I wanted to do less of a review and more of a discussion with you. So I’m going to list all the things I liked or disliked about this book, then elaborate on some of the most interesting elements. I want to know what you thought of this book! Did you like Ketterdam? How do you compare the Grisha Trilogy with Six of Crows? Who was your favorite character(s)? If you haven’t read the book, skip the discussion section, because it’ll probably be quite spoiler-y.
Started: January 30, 2016 Finished: February 21, 2016 (Note: this book took so long to finish because I read 7 pages, and then it sat on my shelf for 3 weeks. I read 437 pages on a Saturday and completed it the next day.)
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Ages: 14 and up
Genres: Crime, High Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository
Goodreads description: 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.
What I liked:
- The cover. It is superb
- The world and the languages
- Ketterdam reminded me of 19th century London
- The gangs
- There wasn’t a big focus on the travelling period
- Plot; I was completely sucked into this world (after page 7). With Shadow and Bone, it was only around halfway through the book that I actually became invested in the story
- Character diversity: we have people of all different ethnicity, background, social standing, and talents
- Each of the main characters have done wrong, in some form or degree
- Kaz is a twisted genius
- None of the POV characters were native to Ketterdam, which made their perspectives more interesting to me
- There are 6 “main characters” and 5 POVs. I enjoy analyzing character interactions, and seeing it from multiple angles made it even better
- I connected with all of these characters pretty easily
What I didn’t like:
- The travelling period. I liked that we didn’t spend tons of time on the journey, but I still would have preferred less
- Cursing: this bothered me while reading, just because I wasn’t certain about the accuracy of the words for the time period. However, I looked it up after I finished the book and, lo and behold, they perfectly match the era
- This book was a little big and heavy-but I’ll tell you, I have weak arms and small hands
- The writing seems to go in and out of dry, info dump-ish parts. Constantly. About every 10 or 20 pages, everything slows down. They don’t last long and didn’t bother me too much, but it is a bit weird
- Many times when the POV shifted, I couldn’t tell who the POV was. I had to flip back to the chapter header to make sure
And now, what I want to discuss! This is going to be so much fun *claps and giggles like a maniac* I hope your comfortably settled somewhere, because this is going to be long.
From the description, I thought we’d be jumping right into espionage or bombing or whatever breaking into the Ice Court would involve. In actuality, the story line has a longer build up section. It’s not until page 217 that they even arrive in Fjerda! Though it wasn’t what I originally expected, I enjoyed the beginning. I got to know the characters so much better and Ketterdam is fascinating.
That brings me to Ketterdam. Ketterdam is gritty and glittering and so vivid. The life, the vibrancy of that city, is just incredible. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I love history. Bardugo revealed some of her influences for this city in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:
“Ketterdam is pretty much the city I always wanted to write about. It’s a mix of the Dutch Republic, Amsterdam, Antwerp, old New York, Victorian London, Vegas.”
While I know close to nothing about the Dutch Republic, Amsterdam, or Antwerp, I was definitely sensing the influence of the last three. Having read a fair amount of historical fiction set in New York and London, there were some parts that felt comfortably familiar. It kept me guessing though, because Ketterdam is completely unique; an inconstant mix of old and new. She also mentioned in that interview that we’ll broaden our view of Ketterdam in Crooked Kingdom and I’m really excited to see what else she has up her sleeve.
Though some took longer than others, I did eventually come to love each of our Crows. Overall, Kaz and Inej would have to be my favorites. Kaz because he’s intelligent, awkward, driven, cruel, lost-a physical and mental cripple. I have a thing for hyper-intelligent characters, and the rest of Kaz is…not lovable, but enchanting in a way. His growth in this story is noteworthy. It’s not huge, but we see him taking little steps and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he’s moving backward or forward. He’s certainly one to watch though. Side note: did anyone else feel like his gloves and grudge against Pekka Rollins were going to be the effect of something much worse than that scam? I thought Kaz’s R tattoo was going to be from some cruel initiation into Pekka’s gang, or he had to watch Jordie be killed (by a person), or just something more…violent. Not that Kaz’s experiences wouldn’t be traumatic, but, I don’t know. His need for vengeance seems a little over the top. That’s just Kaz I suppose.
I liked Inej because I think I’m a little bit like her. No, I’m not an awesome acrobat and my social skills are terrible, but in other ways I could really relate to her. She knows what needs to get done and she’s resilient and strong. But she’s also in touch with her emotions and doesn’t suppress them. Most people, and most characters, are not good at balancing their logical and emotional sides in a healthy way. Inej is a very balanced person, even with all she’s been through. While I haven’t dealt with her exact demons, I always strive to keep both halves of me in harmony. She’s also religious and sometimes this makes her an outcast (Kaz, I’m looking glaring at you). I understand how that feels and I love how she deals with it. Inej makes the people around her comfortable, while not being overly sweet. She’s a wonderful friend, someone I can try to be like-if I ever figure out how to converse with other humans.
I appreciated how none of these characters were “good”. Most YA features young adult mains. Emphasis on the young. If you’re 12 or 14 or 17, it’s unlikely that you’ve done something so terrible that you will regret it for the rest of your life. Teenagers, while they can still accomplish evil, tend to be mostly clean slates. There’s more leeway for this in fantasy, but still, there’s only so much you can do in 16 years.
The first villain to come to mind is probably Kaz. He did start his criminal career at age 9, after all. But they each have issues they’re grappling with. They are gambling addicts, traitors, killers. Living in the gray area of morality changes you. In the backstory sections we can see what has brought them to where they are now. Sometimes they are victims, sometimes they are perpetrators. Whether they are living with the guilt and repercussions of past wrongs or questioning their current lifestyles, they all struggle (sometimes unconsciously) with “Is what I’m doing justifiable? Do I need to change? Is it possible for me to change?” All that’s to say, the moral ambiguity of these characters made Six of Crows very interesting.
Lastly, how do you compare the Grisha Trilogy to Six of Crows? So far, I have only read Shadow and Bone. I started Siege and Storm, but only got like 40 pages in. My interest in Shadow and Bone grew really slowly as well, so I think that’s just normal for me. Since I heard that the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows were basically unrelated, aside from being set in the same world, I figured it would be worth a go. I mean, everybody else seemed to have fallen in love with this book, and the cover was spectacular (still is). My verdict-for now-is that Six of Crows is better than Shadow and Bone. But reading Six of Crows only increased my motivation to finish the Grisha Trilogy. It’s hard to say. Maybe when I’ve completed the entire trilogy and read Crooked Kingdom, my opinion will have been altered.
Speaking of Crooked Kingdom, who else is dying to read it??? And the cover! I am fangirling so hard right now. I love both of these covers. They’re so original!