Yo, yo, yo, fellow book-lovers! I am Lee Faber, and this is my first time ever doing a book review (an official one, to be honest). Before I get into this review, I would first like to give thanks to Ms. Dlugosh, for both suggesting this and allowing me to post my reviews on her blog. She’s a pretty awesome librarian and I’m glad I know her.
Anyway, let’s get to the review, which I am going to start with my favorite book, Six of Crows. It’s written by Leigh Bardugo, who has written multiple books, but she is most known for her books set in the world of the Grisha. Now, Six of Crows (and its sequel, Crooked Kingdom), are not the first books set in the universe, but they can be read independently from her Grisha trilogy. (As a note, I have yet to read the trilogy.)
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.
~ Six of Crows description
What first peaked my interest about Six of Crows was the promising plotline; none-too-good characters committing theft, murder, and all sorts of other crimes. I’ve always liked stories that included characters that can be safely put in the gray area, and I loved how it worked in Six of Crows. (I know, that should be put in the characters section, but it fits into the plotline!) The same can be said for most of the other characters.
The reason I mention this in the plotline is the fact that instead of trying to save a princess from a castle out of the good in their hearts, the characters are breaking someone out of a high-stakes prison for money. That’s exactly it. While each one in particular might have varying reasons by the end, money is what drives them forward.
However, despite how much I loved the plot, it was rather slow getting to it. While I don’t remember the exact page number, it took a minimum of 150 pages for them to even begin the heist. Now, I personally don’t mind slower-paced stories, but I know that some would chafe at the pace of it. Yes, the lead-up to the heist is full of suspense, intrigue, and drama, but I can see why it would be a bit overwhelming.
The heist itself was also exceedingly long to get through, almost unnecessarily so. As I saw in one review of the book, Bardugo added even more tension and problems for the crew that wasn’t needed, considering the circumstances.
The Writing Style
If I had to choose only one thing that decides whether I’ll read a book or not, it would be the style of writing. I’m a huge stickler for grammar and the depth in which the author writes, and at first, Bardugo’s short-description, somewhat choppy style rubbed me the wrong way. While I believe that too much detail can be a bad thing, so too is a lack of it.
However, I couldn’t help but also fall in love with the style as well. It’s dark, gritty, and while it can feel lacking in detail, there’s enough of it so that you aren’t completely lost. With the theme it has, the style fit it extremely well.
I’m not entirely sure if this section should go with the characters or not, but I have to briefly mention the dialogue. There are points in the book where the dialogue bothers me a lot. As an example, it can be like this:
“We should do this,” he said.
She eyed it skeptically. “Are you sure?”
“Why wouldn’t I be sure?”
“It seems a bit sketchy to me.”
It can be hard at times to figure out which character is speaking, and it also seems hastily done. Once again, however, the book redeems itself for me with some truly remarkable quotes that I can’t help but just awe at. Perhaps one of my favorites quotes is, “There was no part of him that was not broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.” There are plenty of other great quotes in the book, which I think makes up for the lacking dialogue that sometimes appear.
The Main Characters
For the characters, I’m going to first do an overall review, and then do small, individual reviews for the main six. One of the great things about Six of Crows is the diversity in the characters. Each and every single character, not just the main ones, is diverse, and I fell in love with that. There are people of color, characters with varying disabilities, and the main six have extremely different views on a multitude of different topics.
Even the antagonists, of which there are several, are different and definable. Villains they all are, yes, but each are ruthless in their own ways.
There is one thing about the characters, and this applies to the main six only, that does bother me. As one review of the book said, the six are easily placed into almost video game-like categories. There’s a gunmaster, a thief, a magic-user, a brute-strength warrior, a spy-assassin, and an eloquent rich kid, almost as if Bardugo was looking to make sure there was a character that everyone could connect with. Another thing that bothered me was that the characters, as diverse as they all were, all ended up being surprisingly similar. Each of them has a sense of humor that’s virtually the same for all of them. If you read to me a random quote out of the book, I could easily connect it to the wrong character.
Now, onto the individual cast…
Kaz Brekker – The criminal mastermind, the ‘thief with a gift for unlikely escapes’, and the most brutal of the crew. He’s supposed to be the favorite, and while I greatly admired, and feared, him, he definitely wasn’t my favorite. He’s almost too cunning at times, almost too ruthless and emotionless. Considering his background, which I won’t spoil, it does fit him, but I just wish he had made one or two more mistakes than he did.
“I’ll tell you a secret… the really bad monsters never look like monsters.”
Inej Ghafa – The ‘spy known as the Wraith’ definitely deserves her title. Perhaps the most notable thing about her, beyond her superstitious beliefs, is her ability to walk silently and climb about the entire world like a spider. She’s not as ruthless as Kaz, but she’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. I find her background to be terribly sad and relatable, and it definitely gives her the right to act the cautious way that she does. While not one of my favorites, I absolutely loved the character of Inej Ghafa, and I think she’s a strong female lead.
“I will have you without armor, or I will not have you at all.”
Nina Zenik – Bubbly and with a love of food, this is the ‘Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums’. She’s one of the more laidback characters of the main six, and definitely more honorable than any of them. Similarly to Inej, she’s a good, strong female lead, and despite her relaxed attitude and love for comfort, she definitely is not meek and stands up for herself. When she makes a terrible mistake, she does her best to correct it, and in the sequel, she does something equally as honorable, and I have to respect that greatly.
“I like it when men beg. But this isn’t the time for it.”
Matthias Helvar – I have to admit, I didn’t really like the ‘convict with a thirst for revenge’. He had potential as a character, and he ended up proving himself a good character, but he was basically a constantly-angry cinnamon roll. He was angry about everything, it seemed, and it got rather one-dimensional after some time.
“I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.”
Jesper Fahey – Ah, the ‘sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager’, and one of my two favorite characters. Unfortunately for him, though, it seemed he was more there for comedic relief than anything else, and he ended up seeming rather one-dimensional. Which is a shame, because despite his restless nature and flirtatious manner, he’s a truly wonderful character that deeply cares for the well-being of others.
*“If we all die, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
Wylan V… (Spoilers!) – And here’s my other favorite characters, the ‘runaway with a privileged past’. One of the things that really irritated me is how little you learn of his character in Six of Crows. The other five all have chapters told from their perspectives, but Wylan doesn’t have that until the second book, meaning that all of the background the others have is almost completely lost for him, and that’s a shame. He’s a rather righteous character, very innocent, and disapproves heavily of the work that the others have done, but that’s because he’s definitely the cinnamon roll of the book.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good quote for Wylan. .-.
*A slight variation to prevent spoilers.
Like all books, Six of Crows has its flaws, and it’s not a perfect book by any means. It irritated me at times, I struggled through it at others, but in the end, I still love the book. I can’t tell you that you’ll love the book or anything, but I hoped this review will help you at least give it a shot. Thank you so much for reading this, and I’ll be back next week with another review. Bye!
Lee Faber is a Bolivar High School student currently writing under a pseudonym. A fan of writing and an aspiring author, Faber hopes to read a variety of books and offer in-depth reviews to help guide readers into making informed book selections.