Review | Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 29, 2015

Genre(s): fantasy, young adult, heist

Read as: physical, owned

Rating: 4

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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 is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first. (Goodreads)

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

I would like to start this with a bit of preamble, if you will. I first read this book back in 2017 so this is my second read through of this incredibly popular YA fantasy. Heres the thing…when I read it the first time, I hated everything about this book. I disliked it so intensely that I actively began avoiding books with a heist plot. If a new release title got compared to Six of Crows I would not even entertain the idea of adding it to my Goodreads. Now, 2017 Amanda was a bit of a ninny and still gave it three stars because she didn’t want to make waves but at the time I should have given it a two based on my feelings.

2021 Amanda doesn’t know that bitch.

I chose to reread this book because of the Shadow and Bone series coming out on Netflix in April of 2021. When it became apparent that it would include content from the Six of Crows duology I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and started rereading Six of Crows so that I would be familiar with the part of the Shadow and Bone world. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine actually enjoying it. My assumption was that this would be a hate read and, honestly, I was fine with that.

Within the first few chapters I found myself getting swept up in this world and, I am happy to say, I had very little memory of the story or characters. It became so easy to see why this story is loved by so many. The characters are all deeply flawed and they carry so much baggage from their pasts despite their young ages. Their trauma forced them to mentally grow beyond their years and while that certainly hurts it made them easier to connect to.

What really got me about this book is that its not so much that I didn’t care about the overarching story of the heist and what the gang had to go through to attempt to succeed, but that the story took a backseat to the characters themselves. The characters were the draw, the very heart of this book. How they reacted to the dangers and challenges around them or how they pulled on past experiences to help them through. Or how, in the case of Kaz, he had to mentally overcome his horrific past experiences in order to accomplish their goal. The collective trauma of the group was off the charts.

I’m so pleased that I pushed myself to reread this book. The story was interesting, the characters gripping, and I’m anxious to read Crooked Kingdom to see how this whole ordeal turns out.

~My original review from 2017~

You ever meet that one person that is disagreeable and goes against everything you think is right and correct in the world? With this book, I feel like that person. I had been wanting to read it for some time but my local library didn’t carry it. Finally I gave in and asked them to get it on inter-library loan for me. I hate doing that. I always feel guilty. I know effort has to be put into getting whatever book I ask for which makes me feel obligated to like the book. That is just pressure. I don’t like book reading pressure. But, I relented and the library brought Six of Crows in for me last week and I dove in like a kid in a candy store.

What makes me disagreeable, as I previously mentioned, you might ask. Well, let me tell you. On Goodreads this book has a 4.45 rating as of this date. Nearly everyone seems head over heels in love with it. Even another reviewer whom I trust to be honest gave it a 5 and she is very stingy with those five star ratings.

You know what? I didn’t really like it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good points, but it just didn’t do it for me. In the spirit of James May, it just didn’t give me the fizz.

I’m not going to lie to you here, I barely remember the first 200 pages or so of the book. It is the first book in a trilogy so I expected there to be a bit of world and character set up. There was more than a bit. I swear to you nothing worth mentioning happened for nearly that first 200 pages. Just setting up the story. I got really bored. You could pretty much skip that whole first part and not miss a bit of the actual story line.

There are six people, all in their late teens, who form a…team? Task force? Gang? I don’t know, whatever it is, to liberate a man from a very well guarded prison.

Kaz is the leader of the group. He is mostly devoid of all emotion, does everything logically, and hates being touched. Inej is a very talented young lady who can scale walls and move without making a sound. She has a thing for Kaz but with his “don’t touch me” thing it makes any type of romance a bit difficult. Jesper likes gambling, guns, and being a general pain in the tuckus. Wylan is the son of higher class merchant who is good with explosives. Nina, to keep it simple, can do certain kinds of magic. She can manipulate emotions, appearances, and alter bodily functions such as slowing the heart. Last, but not least, is Matthias. He was formerly part of a military that tracked down, captured, and often killed people with abilities such as Nina possesses. He is sort of kind of not really reformed from that behavior after spending a bit of time in prison.

Together the six of them under Kaz’s leadership are to rescue a scientist from a prison, in a fortress, on a frozen island. The reward for his rescue is several million kruge and it will not be easy. They are met with numerous seemingly impossible tasks that have to be conquered in order to break the scientist/alchemist out. Each task is more difficult than the last and they are all certain that at least one of their group will not survive for the return journey.

What I will say is that this book really has an interesting and fun story to it. I really think my main problem is that none of the characters you are following around are likable. They just fall flat for me. They all have their point and purpose and everything they do is predictable. I was never taken by surprise or engrossed by any of their stories. They are exactly what they look like at face value. Maybe later on in the trilogy they become more complex and relatable, I can’t judge that, but for just this book I didn’t give a horse’s patoot about any of them. Did they succeed in their mission? Don’t care. Did they all make it back alive? Don’t care. Did Kaz get over his weird “don’t touch me” phobia in order to further pursue Inej’s affection? Still don’t care.

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be…meh

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