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Six of Crows Hardcover – September 29, 2015
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2015: Leigh Bardugo is a fascinating storyteller and in her latest book, Six of Crows, she’s stepped up her game even more. At the heart of the novel is Kaz Brekkar, a mysterious young man who has clawed his way to notoriety in a city fueled by corruption and greed. When Kaz is asked to perform an extremely dangerous heist in return for a staggering sum of money, he calls upon his most trusted compatriots to help. The story is told from multiple points of view and readers discover what led each character to Kaz in the first place, as well as his own shocking path. Six of Crows is a vivid, entertaining fantasy that boldly captures the imagination and leaves an impression well after the novel’s cliff-hanger ending. -- Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Bardugo has created a wildly imaginative story of six young people who have been commissioned to pull off the greatest heist of all time. They are to nab the creator of jurda parem, a highly addictive product that enhances the innate paranormal powers of the Grisha peoples, in the hopes of creating weapons of war that will upset the balance of power and destroy the economies of rival governments. Kaz, the hero of the story and mastermind of the plot, recruits five others to aid in his quest for revenge for the loss of his brother and the promise of vast wealth. Taking what could have been stock characters of young adult fiction—the loner, the rebel, the outcast, and the con artist, the author has fashioned fully fleshed out, dynamic protagonists who will engage and enchant readers. What a thrill it is to return to the world she created with her popular "Grisha Trilogy" (Holt). While the unresolved ending may frustrate some teens, the promise of a sequel will give them hope that this unsettling, captivating, magical journey will continue.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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The Grisha Trilogy had the Darkling; mysterious power-hungry megalomaniac that he was, all readers agreed the man was sexy. In this series, we get Kaz; greedy, dangerous, deceptive Bastard of the Barrel that he is, despite all his faults and one very weird but ultimately understandable phobia, the man is criminally sexy. Emphasis on criminal, by the way. He’s the guy you make eye contact with in a dive bar who makes you shiver, but you know that taking him home would be one huge, but memorable, mistake.
Anyway, the story is all about the art of the con and is told from multiple viewpoints, which Bardugo expertly masters. Five con artists, led by Kaz, stand to make enough money to buy them out of whatever debt or indenture or brothel or sorry mess they call life if they pull off a most impossible heist. Keeping all the details of the plan close to his ever-present vest, Kaz hires a spy he calls The Wraith, a sharpshooter with a gambling problem, a Grisha Heartrender, a soldier who wants to kill the Grisha, and a rich kid with a penchant for explosives. Combining their various talents, they intend to break into the world’s most impenetrable prison and kidnap the scientist responsible for the dangerous drug that I’ll just refer to as “Grisha meth”.
If all the main characters in Six of Crows weren’t teenagers, this would definitely read as adult fiction. I never regarded any of them on the same level as the pimply-faced immature high schoolers that run around in my house. All the characters have a hard luck story or monumental event that made them grow up fast. Throughout the book we learn their personal stories, some are incredibly sad and unfair. But, in the end, it’s what made them who they are: interesting, resilient, criminal and ultimately dangerous. Heartbreakers that they are, I fell in love with all of them.
A masterful storyteller and creative writer with a clever sense of humor, Bardugo is one of my favorite authors. As much as I adored The Grisha Trilogy, I absolutely love the dirty and gritty beauty of Six of Crows. And, I need to have the next book soon.
So one thing I wasn't keen on in the Grisha series was the world building. I thought one of the struggles in the series was that either characters lacked development because they were just pieces to create the world or vice versa. But I think because there wasn't much to add to this setting, since it was already in the Grishaverse, that the characters could really shine. And trust me, shine they did -- sometimes a little too brightly. But we will get there. I liked Ketterdam, I thought it was a good extension of what we learned in the Grisha series, but I am also a little like unsure about it. I feel like there is more to learn, more to explore, but am hopeful for the next book.
I thought the power dynamic was well written and explained, but I feel like there was something ... missing. Like there was something that I feel like I needed to know before I could have that "aha!" moment of understanding about the way things worked in Ketterdam. Because it seems like there is a bit of a system that we were introduced to but not quite given all the information for, which seems odd considering I feel like we needed all that information to be able to fully get behind the plot and the characters.
I also was a little iffy about the name dropping from the Grisha series. I think a well placed tip of the hat to old characters can be nice for the fans that have read them, but it seemed like a little too much if you wanted to read this book as a stand alone. Without having read the Grisha series, I wouldn't have known Zoya's character to be able to make the connections as to why Nina acted the way she did. But I am glad that it happened. I liked the little throwbacks. But I would recommend reading the Grisha series before this one or else you may be a little lost as to the world, the references, and why this drug should not be allowed into the world.
The characters were so much grittier and dirtier than those we encountered in the Grisha series. Each had dark pasts and even darker presents, but they were so fleshed out. I didn't roll my eyes once at what a character said or did like I did while reading about Alina. I thought that each character was so well developed and I could see how this rag tag team of misfits perfectly in my mind.
I did think that at some points Kaz was a little larger than life. He was a great character and definitely up there for all time favourite characters but he was not my favourite out of this group. I was pretty wise to some of his tricks and wasn't always caught off guard by what he was planning on doing. I think part of the reason I liked him was because I could see so much of myself in him. But at the same time, I thought he was almost too good to be true. He had a s***ty life that we got to see through the flashbacks, but he went from scared to scary in such little time that it really was a little unbelievable. It took him like a year to become completely ruthless and also cunning. And while I do think living on the streets could breed that, I almost question if it could do so that quickly. I think it was almost as if he was written so harshly so that we could see the difference when he was around Inej.
Inej was my favourite character. She was feminine and yet still strong. I felt like she didn't have as complex of a backstory as the rest of the characters, but I thought she had the worst current situation. It was as if she was stuck in a place of unbelonging and wasn't sure how to get out. But I was fist pumping as she was climbing and making plans for her future. I was really proud of her for figuring out what she wanted out of her life. That was when I realized I saw Inej as my precious child and needed her to be okay for me to be okay. And that is when I realized I am Kaz.
One thing I loved about Inej was that she wasn't completely swooning over Kaz and stood her ground on wanting someone better for her because he wasn't perfect and she does deserve better. I think too often you see that the guy always gets his girl, but that didn't happen here and I'm actually glad for it. While I did like them together, I just didn't think that it was the right time for either of them to be with the other. I think they both need to grow a bit -- Inej into her freedom and Kaz into someone who can be both ruthless and caring at the same time.
Nina was wonderful. I liked having a full Grisha who was trained at the Little Palace in this mix because it really connected the original trilogy with this new one. It almost cemented the story moreso than the name dropping of older characters. I thought Nina was extremely well written because while she was obviously in love with Matthias, she didn't let that stand in the way of her getting what she needed and deserved. She was clever, cunning, and used her strengths to her advantage. I liked that she was willing to do whatever it took to survive and keep those she cared about alive. She was just perfect because she acted like she was full of herself but cared more about the others than all of them put together. But she was the right mix of vulnerable and strong for me to be like "YAS SLAY ME NINA" because I would let that girl crush my heart any day.
Another wonderful thing was the female friendship between Nina and Inej. They could have easily been like "nah bro I ain't gonna eff with you" but they both worked to lift the other up. And they genuinely seemed to care about one another and what it meant for each of them to be placed in certain positions. Especially at the end when they had to change their heist plans -- Nina was so worried about what their change in plans would mean for Inej moreso than what it could possibly mean for her. And that is true friendship man.
Matthias made me realize just how much I love the strong stoic type because hot damn. Like I get where Nina was coming from tbh. And I loved that he was so weary about the whole prospect and what it would mean for him to be a "traitor" to his country. I think he had the best internal struggle of all the characters in the book, especially near the end. I am usually not a fan of the whole "I can overcome anything because I love this person" but the way that Leigh wrote his affections for Nina was amazing. I am glad that we got to see glimpses of their time together while they were surviving, but not all of it. It made the moments we did get to see feel even more intimate and special, which made me super love their relationship. I think they need to work through some issues but they are definitely my favourite ship out of this whole scenario. (Prob because I keep getting Nina on the quiz and therefore think I will eventually get my Matthias)
I liked Jesper's point of view the best. I liked seeing everyone from his perspective because he seemed to see everyone at their best, even when they were at their worst -- even himself. I think that was important to understanding that while they all had s***ty lives, there was still good parts to them. I feel like Jesper was the one that really kept everything together, even though it appeared to be Inej who did so. I feel like we had seen so much despair and hatred of oneself through everyone else's point of view, but Jesper didn't look at things like that. He made his bet and then did everything he could to make sure he came out on the winning end. It was like optimism except still sad because his life was kind of s***ty still. I don't know, I just really liked Jesper and I want good things for him.
I was kind of disappointed that Wylan didn't have his own pov sections. I wanted to know more about him and learn more about him from his own perspective rather than through everyone else's. I still thought he had good character development and was interesting but I think there is an extra layer of Wylan that we didn't get to see and because of that we still haven't really met him yet. I am hoping there will be more in the next book because I am thoroughly intrigued by his circumstances and what this type of war will mean for him. I am envisioning great things for him. And like Nicola and I talked about over DMs on Twitter, him and Jesper need to get a room asap.
Honestly, this is a huge cast of characters but Leigh does it so beautifully that you root for all the characters to succeed and be happy and find peace and you just know that isn't going to happen for all of them. They are all such beautiful disasters and I can't help but wonder what their future will be. I was a little worried with how many povs there were, but honestly I think I would have been disappointed without seeing things from everyone's pov -- hence why I was sad there was no Wylan perspective. This book heavily relies on the characters and they are some of the best written characters I have read about in a long time. My heart aches thinking about them and their struggles and worries for what will come from their future.
I thought this plot was much tighter than what we had seen in the Grisha series. There was a logical sequence and the twists and turns were all in a single direction to take us from point A to point B. The only thing I would say is that I was a tad disappointed that everything was explained to me so quickly. I wanted to have a bit more time to try and figure out exactly how they were able to do certain things and if characters did certain things on purpose or by accident. I felt like the "mystery" sort of aspect that comes along with these types of books was taken away from me at some points because it was told to me right away. I thought a lot of the directions the plot took were obvious if you were reading closely enough but there were still some that took me by complete surprise. I think I got wise to how Kaz operated and thus could figure out some of his plans for the heist. I also thought there was a lot of foreshadowing for one certain thing that was revealed at the end that I was like "yeah I am not surprised by that" even though I could see how one would be shocked.
The writing was beautiful and the prose was just great. The pacing was done extremely well with the flashbacks placed in a way that made the story flow rather than stifle it with too much back story and not enough action and adventure of from the present. If you want to know what surprised me the most, you can DM me on Twitter and ask and I will tell you if you want to know a spoiler and/or already read the book. Rather than the plot moving forward and then the character having to catch up, I think both were done simultaneously and it made for an enjoyable reading experience. I read 50% of the book before bed and then 50% the next day but it is definitely one you could read in one sitting. And you almost want to because you want to know what happens. I would say that the first 30% is mostly character and world introductions and can get a little heavy as you meet a new character and see how they know Kaz and why he is enrolling them in his mission, but after that it gets jam packed with action and is definitely worth the read.
I literally have no words though. Like it took me a very long time to write this because I needed to think of something to say other than "Go read this because it's awesome" even though that is very true. I applaud this book and not so secretly wish I had been the one to think of it first. But I wouldn't have trusted this story or these characters in anyone else's hands other than Leigh Bardugo.