The short: 4.5/5 ✦. An amazing heist story with brilliant, multi-faceted characters and a thrilling, in-depth plot.
Oh, man, this was good.
I had no expectations going into this book, besides noting its popularity. I haven’t read the Grisha trilogy, but reviewers and even the author herself said it was unnecessary, so I just forged right in.
I admit that at first, I was a little lost. There wasn’t that much exposition, and it felt like a spinoff – like there was this whole secret history that I wasn’t privy to and everyone is going around making inside jokes. But slowly, I began to get it, began to understand the author’s style. It’s set up like a mystery book, Agatha Christie-style. You have a group of characters, and the narrative switches (seamlessly) from one perspective to another. In this way, you get background, character analysis, plot advancement, clues, etc. Six of Crows isn’t truly a mystery – it’s a heist book – but it operates in much the same way, and it’s amazing. I think actually the Grisha trilogy helped with the world-building because Bardugo probably didn’t feel the need in this book to overexplain everything or to try to cram in every background detail of this alternate universe. She put what was needed, nothing more or less, and it works wonderfully.
I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to not have exposition dumps but rather, have information carefully delivered in just the right places. Sure, it can a little frustrating not know why someone is acting that way, why a character disappears from the scene, or how something happened and no explanation is shown to the reader until it’s revealed to everyone in the story. But again, it’s like reading a mystery and even being in their perspective, you don’t find out who the murderer is until the denouement. It’s great!
The characters are really what make Six of Crows so wonderful. I adore Kaz. I love that Nina is beautiful and tall and powerful. I love Matthias’s internal conflicts. I love Inej’s fierceness. I love Jesper’s snark. I love that all their various skills and competencies were actually forged in realistic training and hard work (I’ve read about too many characters who just “happen” to be skilled with knives or guns or arrows). The third person POV allows us to be inside everyone’s head while still keeping things mysterious. And none of them are perfect in any way, and none pretend to be. They’re thieves, murderers, and con artists, with only greed and the barest scrap of decency that passes for loyalty keeping them together. But you love them, and want them to win. To take revenge. They’re the underdogs, fighting the good fight.
Yes, there’s romance, but it’s the best, most subtlest kind, and actually makes sense and yes, I was rooting for a few pairings. ME! And the overall plot is fantastic, too; it seems like the book is too long for the main plan, but a lot happens in these 400 pages, and all is worthwhile.
I’M SUPER EXCITED FOR THE NEXT BOOK.
Header image: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, published September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company .