I’m not writing any spoilers in case someone still hasn’t read the book!
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a YA fantasy novel about assembling a team of dangerous people and breaking into a high security prison. And why would they do that? Because someone is paying a LOT of money. And a group of thugs, witches and thieves sounded like the right answer.
I was so, so excited with the description of this book. And even now, after reading it and not liking it, I feel like it sounds so cool that I want to like it. Does that ever happen to you?
Forget the hype. I genuinely want to like Six of Crows because while I was reading it and someone asked me what I was reading, I explained it to them and it sounded like the coolest book ever. It also looks like he coolest book ever. With those black stained paged and artistic cover…
But, oh well. The bookish life is cruel like this sometimes.
I’ll change things up a bit because this book deserves it. I’ll start with the things I didn’t like.
*Cue the review that will make me lose a hundred readers*
All the characters are “OH, TOO PRECIOUS FOR THIS WORLD”. Seriously. Most fans loved this book because of the characters, and I respect (and actually understand) their opinions. But I kinda feel like Bardugo sat down and started listing every cliche in the history of YA, then she picked up the traits people seem to love the most and distributed them into 6 different characters. That way she made them all special and relatable (and most people on Tumblr will have a crush on at least one of them).
Allow me to delve into the subject of the “precious characters”:
- We have Kaz: The leader of the gang. He’s a suave criminal and also has a tortured soul. He’s supposed to be a reckless monster but in real like everyone wants to hug him.
- Inej: A precious cinnamon roll of a girl who is also the greatest assassin (at sixteen). Everyone wants to hug her.
- Jesper: He likes guns and is the greatest gunslinger. He’s the comic relief and ship-able with another male character.
- Nina: She’s a badass witch and also really attractive. Also has a tortured soul. Her love for cake makes her so relatable that everyone wants to hug her.
- Matthias: He’s a walking German stereotype. Also seems to have feelings for a female character. He’s kind of bland but his crush on a girl seems to redeem his character.
- Waylan: He just exists so people can ship him with another male character. He’s the only one without a POV in this book. I guess some people want to hug him too.
See what I mean? To me they didn’t feel like real people with special traits. They’re more like caricatures of what they’re supposed to represent. Kind of like Care Bears or My Little Pony characters, since all of them have a personality that revolves around a prominent trait (a.k.a. cutie mark). Also, bonus dislike-points for having 6 main characters and hinting at 3 romantic couples.
Extra also, these are all teenagers around 16-17 with the personalities and skills of people in their late twenties.
The pacing was too slow for a heist story. It took me two tries to finish this book. The first time I dropped it at 100 pages and couldn’t keep reading because instead of the theft planning I expected, I was being bombarded with backstories for characters I didn’t care about. I don’t mind flashbacks if they’re interesting and add to the story. But in this book they felt like the author didn’t know the “Show, don’t tell” rule. So instead of showing us a character’s motivations trough the story, she just added 1000 flashbacks.
This was a main problem for me because I felt like the book kept dragging and dragging, trying to make me care about these characters by showing me their sob stories. It dragged so much that the actual heist (the one impossible task mentioned in the cover of the book) doesn’t start until page ~270. By that point I already felt like the book was too long as wasn’t that excited about the heist.
I would have liked to read about the heist – or maybe another similar mission – at the beginning of the book, and whatever the
outcome, I would have wanted to know more about these characters that completed (or tried the complete) the big theft. But NOPE. I spent two-thirds of the book reading about these 6 guys with incredibly badass reputations, so when I read the last third I wasn’t on the edge of my seat or anything.
It’s an interesting fantasy world. I love it when fantasy books have real world problems. In the Six of Crows universe (I believe it’s called the Grisha Universe since this is a spin-off series of the Grisha Trilogy) there are people with magical abilities. They’re called Grisha and they can do a lot of cool things like manipulate materials, elements or human bodies. The real world problem is that some people fear the Grisha because of their power, others hate them because of it and some others try to exploit them. The plot of this book revolves around how far some people go to get some of that power.
I found it interesting and would actually like to read more about the political ideologies in this world. It felt a little to close to the real wars, hate and racism in our world.
It’s a heist book! I love theft/heist/suicide mission stories as much as the next person. And this one has to do with assembling a team of misfits and getting into a high security prison. What’s not to love? (Apart from the things in my Dislike list).
The actual mission unfolds almost at the end of the book, but it’s still fun to read and has a good dose of things that go wrong.
- You love character-driven stories
- You don’t mind it if the action starts late into the book
- You read with the main purpose of shipping characters
- When you read about a character with a tortured soul you want to hug them