Though I felt confident I would love, or at a minimum, like Leigh Bardugo’s books, I didn’t really know. As I made my decision for which to read first, I decided to read the one I thought I would like most, rather than the one that came first. Six of Crows is a heist book. It’s also much more hyped than Shadow and Bone ever was or is. So, it is the irony of ironies that I ended up liking Shadow and Bone more. Six of Crows, granted, is a fabulous book. You’ll find, however, that when I review Shadow and Bone in a few weeks that my review for that will be far more enthusiastic.
It’s the best of all possible plots. A group of outcasts band together to pull off an impossible heist. Also, each outcast has a grudge or death wish against at least one other person in the group. Can they pull off the heist, or will they destroy each other instead?
The book flap lists, in brief descriptions, the six members of Kaz’s team. I thought these six people were in addition to Kaz. As I matched the characters to the blurbs, I became unendingly confused about who fit one of the descriptions. After a significant portion of the plot passed, I realized that one of those descriptions was in reference to Kaz, and not in reference to an elusive seventh team member. And yeah, this is mostly a dumb mistake in interpretation on my end, but I think it explains pretty well how I connected with this book. It is a great book, but I felt out of sync with it the entire time I was reading. I don’t have any true complaints…only that the book was missing a “spark” that kept me from loving it. The same feeling could be said of Everless, which I am reviewing next week.
Six of Crows is, first and foremost, a fantasy. Secondly, it is a fantasy novel. (With a much better developed fantasy world than most YA books.) It’s also a true testimate to Leigh Bardugo’s ability to craft a complex character.
Kaz, by nature of being the one most driving the plot, is the lead. The other five members of his team, however, get almost as much page/narration time (if not more). And despite being an ensemble book, not one character is cast aside or ignored in favor of another. They all receive time to express motivations. They are all, unfortunately for them, cursed with tragic backstories. I can’t pinpoint a single character as a weak point. Not one is weighed down by the plot of the book, or overshadowed by the actions of another character. (And the romance, which mostly simmers in the background of the story, doesn’t weigh down the plot either.)
Perhaps, if anything, I can complain about the ending. There’s lots of reveals at the end…and none are surprising? Even the ones I didn’t guess ahead of time were too sensible to shock me. The ending, though a cliffhanger, doesn’t raise the stakes as much as I would expect the ending of this book to do.
Ending aside, the story is otherwise masterfully crafted. Even though I didn’t love it the way I expected to, it’s still clear from reading this that Leigh Bardugo is a powerfully strong writer. I look forward to reading the rest of the Grishaverse books. (Much of the next two months will contain Grisha-focused book reviews!)