Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
So Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo was a book I had heard A LOT about; all of it good things. So when it came to deciding what the first book for the Roadside Reads Bookcast would be, I was not in the least surprised this won the vote to be the inaugural buddy read. Now, whether it was the fact that I read this book spread out over the course of a month, or the fact that it had been so hyped up for me before even starting it, I don’t know, but I do know that it didn’t seem to wow me for an absolute five stars. There were problems with pacing, especially when it came to character development, and certain tropes were just too well-known where Bardugo did little to break from them or extend them.
Before I get to what I didn’t like, and what knocked the book down to 3 and a half stars while my bookcast co-hosts gave it 4 and 4.5 stars, let me tell you about what I LOVED about Six of Crows. I absolutely loved the characters and how each of them were so uniquely different from one another and completely their own person. For those that heard the bookcast, you obviously know that Jesper was my favourite. The sharpshooting gambler with the heart of gold that is riddled with addiction and anxiety. Seriously, bless him. Then of course Inej, the quiet one who does what she does because she needs to survive and get out of where she’s at. I could go on and on about them all. They’re all different, which is exactly what you’d expect out of a heist book, but still refreshing in how they are different. Another fantastic thing about them was how physically different they all were as well. It wasn’t just a group of sixteen year old white kids They all seemed to have different ethnicities, colours, sexualities, and cultures and it worked well, both as a ploy to create tension, but also to showcase diversity in literature.
What was also fantastic to see was that despite all they’ve been through and their maturity, they were still teens and it showed. It showed in the way that Kaz mostly trusted the word of an adult authoritarian figure, even when he knows all adults lie. It showed in the way Nina and Mathias bickered with one another, having the exact same feelings but refusing to be the first to admit to them. Even in the way Jesper’s insecurities about who he is and what that means. It was refreshing to see characters that can be masterminds and so smart and clever, still be naive when it comes to the ways of the world.
Now, what did bring Six of Crows down for me was the pacing. It just seemed to frenetic. Not because of the changing character chapters, but because of random plots and parts of stories that would be introduced without warning and then as a single aside. One of the major ones was Jesper’s sudden flirting. It literally came out of nowhere later in the novel and seemed like it was simply done because everyone else had already been paired up, so now Bardugo figured it was time to introduce the Jesper/Wylan romance possibility. Jesper hadn’t flirted at all before and then suddenly boom, all the flirting with all the people. Mathias hated everything Grisha and considered it unnatural, only to suddenly change his thoughts abruptly and realise he was wrong when he saw what they truly did with the grisha after their trials. It was too many abrupt changes brought in when it felt like it could have been weaved better throughout the entirety of the story.
Then, there were the tropes Bardugo heavily relied on but did nothing to extend or morph them. The war orphans, the scorned hero, the broody Machiavellian character, the one-dimensional evil villain. It just fell flat to me. Like I said, perhaps it was just that I expected more, or the fact that the bookcast spent a month discussing this novel. I’ll be excited to see if her Grisha series differs when I read it for personal pleasure away from doing a bookcast.
While a solid YA heist book, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo isn’t the best heist book out there. If you’re looking for angst and fun, with lots of twists and turns, then definitely pick this up. If you’re looking for something more steady with a greater emphases on the team and the heist itself, perhaps something like Patrick Weekes’ The Palace Job might be better.
Quotes & Excerpts
Besides, old women must know something, or they wouldn’t live to gather wrinkles and yell from their front steps.
2 – Inej
The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true. […] You have to know where you want to go before you get there.
10 – Inej
She had to laugh at herself. She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.
14 – Nina
“Yes. Like a hive of bees in your dressed draw.”
Jesper barked a laugh. “Just like that.”
“So what are we doing here?”
Jesper turned back to the sea, feeling his cheeks heat.
“Hoping for honey, I guess. And praying not to get stung.”
17 – Jesper