Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 5 Stars
Six Reasons Why Six of Crows Is LIFE:
1. A HEIST!
If you haven't already heard by now, Six of Crows is a heist novel. I've heard it compared to Ocean's Eleven, which I haven't seen, but I'd liken it to The Avengers since there's an epic round-up of our team and an utterly satisfying journey as they learn to trust one another and work together, despite the fact that a handful of them are strangers. Moreover, I can promise that Bardugo doesn't disappoint. Not in the details, not in the plot twists, and definitely not in the sucker-punches to the gut (you know, that feeling you get every time you're reminded of how this is an impossible task and the team assembled is guaranteed to fail).
Every one of the six characters who make up our heist team are legends in their own right. There's Kaz Brekker, the criminal mastermind and genius who is unstoppable. There's Inej, the Wraith, who is as silent as a shadow and can travel anywhere, anyhow, without being detected. There's Jesper, whose guns never miss their mark. And so on and so forth. We're introduced to these characters by their legends--the stories that surround them, the rumors that circulate about them--but by the end, we've slowly started to peel back the layers and expose that they, for all their impossible feats, are mere people. I love how Bardugo does this, so gradually, and it works perfectly. It forces us, as the reader, to become invested emotionally and then just keeps twisting the knife in deeper until our hearts are bleeding and our breath is becoming shallow and we can't imagine our lives before we knew about these characters; I am so in love with all six of them, it's desperate.
3. Multiple POVs
Bardugo writes Six of Crows from a third-person perspective, which works perfectly as she alternates between narrators. Each of the six have their turn, time and time again, and though I usually shy away from multiple perspectives, Bardugo perfected it. Not only is it ideal when we're working with a heist, especially one as elaborate as this where the team members need to be split up, but it's also ideal when peeling back the layers of a group of six people who don't trust each other, who don't know where they stand with one another, and who all want money desperately. I never thought the POV shifts were abrupt, unexpected, or unwanted so kudos to Bardugo for walking that fine line flawlessly.
4. Politics, Slavery, and Discrimination
Shadow and Bone revolved mostly around Grisha politics, centered in Ravka and working its way inward through the Second Army and the different ranks of Grisha. With Six of Crows, we've entered a whole new underbelly. Admittedly, some parts are familiar--Grisha, Fabrikators, Heartrenders, etc.--but others are relatively new. Bardugo expands this world so much, including different races of people and different customs, some of which despise the Grisha. I found it interesting to see how these six individuals, each with completely different--and tragic--backgrounds interact with one another despite their prejudices and pre-conceived notions which are, perhaps surprisingly, harder to let go of than we may think. Bardugo never info-dumps this onto us, instead revealing to us bits and pieces in multiple narratives. As a lover of fantasy, and particularly fantastical politics, I ate this all up.
No one can slay me with a romance quite like Bardugo can. Remember how, in Siege and Storm, your heart was breaking page after page because Mal and Alina so desperately wanted to be together and so clearly were destined to be together but their rank and circumstance and past just couldn't allow them to be in the relationship they once dreamed of? And it was so painful because of how unfair it was? Because neither of them could really do anything except give up a part of themselves? And how could we ask them to do that? Well, that's how the romance is in this novel. Except times fifty. So...just get ready for a lot of blood and tears. But it's so, so good. My favorite romance is, obviously, the one that seems utterly doomed and full of strife and peril but, I hold on to the smallest shreds of hope, even as the sexual tension kills me, slowly. There's another romance, too, one which I think is less subtle and I love the depth and complexity that this one has, too. Moreover, I strongly suspect there's yet another romance, hidden deep in small phrases and tiny gestures, so though I may simply be fangirling for no reason, I ship yet another couple in this novel (and I will go down shipping them, so they better become a prominent couple soon, Bardugo)!
Every good novel has a good villain--or two, or three--and this book is teeming with formidable villains. Ones I want to see go down. While the Darkling was more like Draco Malfoy--extremely attractive, to the point where you didn't want to hate him, and not entirely evil--the villains in this novel, much like the main characters, are flawed and without remorse. I love the fine line Bardugo emphasizes between hero and villain because, our crew? None of them are heroes. All of them have lied and stolen and cheated their way to where they are now and though they may have survived out of circumstance, none of them are without guilt or blame. Yet, Bardugo makes us root for them and believe in them, much like real people whose pasts are messy but whose futures still hold hope. We've gotten glimpses of our villains in Six of Crows; strong and potent glimpses. I am sure they will come further into the forefront as the series wears on and I cannot wait to meet them, head-on, with Kaz and his team.
If you need more than six reasons to pick up Six of Crows, I promise I can come up with them for you. This is a novel that features disabled characters, diverse characters, mature characters and if you're searching for a New Adult-esque fantasy novel that explores the ideas of a New Adult novel--finding your place in the world, albeit through mistakes and strange situations--then Six of Crows fits that bill too. It's so many incredible, wonderful, surprising stories and genres in one that I am truly astounded by it. Easily one of the best books of the year, if not the best, this is one I couldn't put down, classes be damned. (Although, Bardugo, I might be begging for more than just the next novel at this point. It would be nice if you could give me my GPA back too...)