Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

3.5 / 5  stars
Read in March 2020
Book #1 in the Six of Crows duology

There were moments in this book where I’d think Wow, this is definitely a 5-star book! –and then there were moments I’d think Ehh… not so much.

In the days after I finished Six of Crows, I went over it again and again in my head trying to figure out just why there was something off about it for me when it is SO popular, hyped, and loved. I will also admit that because this story is so revered, I went into it with a more critical eye than I usually would, while also hoping to learn some #writingskills from Ms. Bardugo along the way.

So after several days of reflection, I’ve concluded that the suspension of disbelief is what really got to me in this story. In my opinion, each member of our main ensemble had incredibly dense backstories and jobs in Ketterdam more fitting of a group of twenty-somethings, not 15-18 year olds. It struck me from the beginning, when Kaz squared off against Geels, an older man with years of experience in a rival gang – and Kaz was able to best Geels and his men like it was nothing. Teenagers ruling the streets of a fantasy Amsterdam just… didn’t quite work for me. It would take years of training and mentorship to rise up in the ranks of a gang and have the street, financial, and political savvy they do. Even the actors in the upcoming Shadow and Bone Netflix show are in their twenties!

I know you’re probably thinking Well, you could argue a high suspension of disbelief is involved in any YA fantasy novel, especially when war, revolution, etc. are involved. And I agree with you. But in this book, it was just something I couldn’t ignore throughout the story. I would love to know your thoughts on this!

A couple last complaints, and then I will move on to some positives, I promise:

1. Kaz’s leg really only seemed to bother him when it was convenient for the plot. Otherwise he was running, jumping, fighting, etc. just fine.

2. Writing-wise, the pacing seemed a bit off at times. The first 100 pages or so were slow, and then some of the climactic moments at the end seemed rushed.

Okay! What I enjoyed about this book:

1. Who doesn’t love a book with a dynamic ensemble cast? #squadgoals Not to mention the representation – PoC characters, LGBTQ+ characters, physical and learning disabilities, and more.
2. Leigh Bardugo does some great world building, especially regarding the cultures of the Grishaverse that prove she did her research on their real-life counterparts.

3. A unique, refreshing story that gave me a fantastical, magic-filled Ocean’s 11 meets The Godfather meets Harry Potter vibes.

4. The character relationships. The friendships, such as Kaz and Jesper or Inej and Nina, were heartwarming; but it was the romances that really struck me, or rather the lack-of-romance-yet-no-lack-of-it-at-all. Our characters shared romantic and tension-filled moments devoid of the typical kissing, caressing, whispering in ears… I wanted the characters to be together and could feel the struggle between them. It kept the pages turning because I was desperate for certain couples to share more page time together.

5. Bardugo is a good writer from a technical standpoint. I found myself studying her sentence structure and how she wrote action and inner monologues, or when she chose to use dialogue versus flowy prose. She also handled the PoV jumps very well.

6. Am I excited to watch this as a Netflix show? You betcha.

I’m now about 100 pages into Crooked Kingdom, which some say is even better than SoC. I guess I’m about to find out. Again, I’d love to know your thoughts on all the ideas I mentioned above in the comments below!

UPDATE 03/30/20

I’m currently about 30% done with Crooked Kingdom and struggling; therefore, I’m lowering my rating of SoC from 4 stars to ~3.5ish stars because I was telling a friend about it over the weekend and she asked, “Would you recommend it?” to which I said, “Eh… maybe?” The fact that it wasn’t an immediate “Yes!” from me had me rethinking this review all over again…

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