Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1 (1/2)
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on September 29, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
5 Stars, Completed October 5, 2016
– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –
It took me long enough but I’m putting my foot down and making an effort to get out of this book reviewing rut I’ve been in. It’s time to finally cover my thoughts on Six of Crows, which I read over half a year ago.
The best way to describe how much I loved this story is by stating that there are few YA books that make me wish I was able to experience reading for the first time again and Six of Crows has squeezed itself into this small, exclusive list. (In case you were wondering, this list only had the Harry Potter series and The Infernal Devices trilogy.) Six of Crows isn’t quite same caliber as Harry Potter (in my opinion), but it’s high enough up there that I’d consider this a new YA fantasy favorite of mine.
The writing was so brilliant, the cast comprised of badass antiheros, and the story and world building was far better than Bardugo’s predecessor series, the Grisha trilogy (which is saying something since I thoroughly enjoyed that one as well).
No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.’
Six of Crows is still a part of the Grishaverse and takes place a couple of years after Ruin and Rising, the final installment of The Grisha trilogy. However, it introduces a completely new set of characters, specifically six of the deadliest outcasts of Ketterdam, the dank capital of Kerch known to be the central hub for international trade but also home to multiple criminal organizations. And the story chronicles the journey of this unstoppable crew as they take on a suicide mission to complete a near-impossible heist, breaking into the notoriously secure Ice Court and retrieving a hostage.
To be honest, I could sum up this review in one sentence: Six of Crows is an absolute must read for those that are interested in YA fantasy. I truly believe that this is one of the best YA series of this decade and would 10/10 even recommend it to those that rarely delve into YA. Mainly because the prose reads less juvenile than other YA titles, and it helps that this is only a two book commitment being a duology.
Although I’ve already given the tl;dr snippet it’d be unlike me to end this review here. Therefore I’ll now be sharing 6 reasons why I fangirled while reading this book, which is the only way I think I’ll be able to do this book somewhat justice. (I’m hoping that this format will keep me on track and organize my thoughts more coherently.)
Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
[One] What makes Six of Crows so special in comparison to other YA titles I’ve read is the one of a kind cast. It introduces an unforgettable gang of nuanced characters. I love that each has a backstory so different and complex. Six of Crows is written in multiple perspectives; the switch of point of views are separated with headers but even without them the narratives are so distinct that I would have recognized the changes.
And speaking of the cast… what Six of Crows achieves exceptionally well is making readers become attached to these characters within the span of just one book. Many aspects of the main characters’ thoughts, struggles, and lives can resonate with readers. And as I mentioned earlier, the crew consists of a bunch of troublemaking misfits but readers can’t help but feel compelled to root for them and wish for their happiness.
“It’s not natural for women to fight.”
“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”
[Two] There’s also so much girl power. Inej and Nina are girlfriend goals. I love both women separately and I lived for the scenes that they had together. They are so supportive and show immense resilience in their own, unique ways.
[Three] The what seemed, at first, an out of place prologue tricked me into thinking this would be a slower paced fantasy but it’s actually full of action. Some intense scenes had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath.
[Four] I was also fascinated by the fact that this compelling book continuously kept me guessing. In fact, I remembered that the unpredictable twists had me gasp aloud a few times (lol). Like I totally wasn’t anticipating Matthias “betrayal” (and, honestly, I couldn’t tell if that was even a ruse or not initially) and Inej’s sudden disappearance at the end caught me off guard.
Another element to mention is the idea that Six of Crows goes beyond just a fictional story. [Five] Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the Grisha politics relates to real world problems. For example: discrimination, poverty, class disparity, etc. I won’t elaborate any further than this because, really, you should read the book yourself to recognize what other parallelisms I’m hinting at.
The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.
[Six] And last but not least it wouldn’t be a true fangirl review if I didn’t address the romantic relationships. The romance in this is more on the down low and subtle but my shipping heart could still effortlessly create OTPs. I was, astonishingly, very content with how sparingly (but balanced) the romance was incorporated into the storyline. I say surprisingly because typically I dislike it when nearly all the characters have partners, mostly because I find this a bit too convenient and unrealistic. (Plus, the single life is way underrated.) Yet, something about the pairs in Six of Crows felt so natural and right.
Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.
Of course, I was completely smitten with the broody and dangerous, Kaz Brekker. The ever compassionate Inej balances him out so well. Don’t even get me started on how hot of a couple Matthias and Nina make. And Jesper and Wylan’s own budding romance is equally as good as the others if not better.
Immediately after finishing Six of Crows, I had a great urge to downrate the entire Grisha trilogy (and other YA titles I had read in the past), because this one was that good. This is a prime example of how YA fiction should be done. And needless to say since I feel like I gushed more than enough, this is probably one of the best YA books I’ve ever read.
Though this was a hard review to compose this was one of the easiest ratings I’ve given all year. Six of Crows really lives up to the immense hype surrounding it. This duology is so epic and I’m now even more convinced Leigh Bardugo can do no wrong. After finishing the entire Grisha trilogy in 2015 and the Six of Crows duology last year and loving both, I’m really looking forward to her next work. And now I know better to pick up her new releases sooner than later.