Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ARC (2 stars)
Kel Thursday, August 27, 2015 review
I haven't read Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, but I was really excited for Six of Crows, particularly with its Ocean's Eleven heist elements. Much of the book delivered, but, for me, it stumbled at the end.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 29, 2015
Published by Henry Holt and Company
Final Rating: 2 stars
Game of Thrones meets Ocean's Eleven in this brand-new book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
I had super high hopes for Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows after reading and loving an early preview. The first two-thirds of the story was enjoyable and full of the action, scheming and thieving I expected. Unfortunately, after that, it went from Mission Impossible to Mission Melancholy & Angst, which was not nearly as fun and kind of annoying.
I was only really invested in two characters: Kaz and Inej. They're both intelligent, highly skilled, and somewhat devious; they're interesting and kept me guessing and engaged. When we hit the big switch in the last third of the book, their chapters became less about the current adventure and more about backstory. So, instead of seeing some of the cool/cruel, manipulative stuff Kaz executes on this job firsthand, we hear it recounted later in the space of a few paragraphs. I felt jipped, like instead of seeing the movie, they showed me the trailer, then skipped right to the end and told me about what happened. (And I'm still displeased with the author's rendering of Kaz.) The author pulled a similar stunt with Inej, but in this case we were inside the character's perspective as the scenes played out and the author kind of lied about the thoughts/plans going through Inej's head. I think you're supposed to say "that's so cool" later when you see how it fits into the bigger puzzle, but, again, I felt jipped.
I know I'm picky about my romances, but pairing up everyone on the team was ridiculous. This is Mission Impossible, not Love Actually. That said, while I kind of got two of the pairings--one of which was so complicated and messy, who knew where it would end--I didn't buy the burgeoning relationship between the final two members of the gang. It felt forced and kind of out of nowhere and had a ring of that dreaded rule from "When Harry Met Sally," except now it's not just a man and a woman can't be friends--no one's safe. :P And half of that duo was a waste. I really wish he weren't sticking around in the next book. Honestly, after about two pages of screen time, I'm way more interested in a certain other character and would prefer to see more of him. He has a sadder, better backstory; makes a bigger, better explosion; is Grisha; and has a more compelling personality. All this in a couple pages. PLEASE trade out Wylan for this guy.
I liked the first half of Six of Crows more than the second, but at this point, I'm barely invested in one-third of the team, and who knows how much we'll see of one due to certain events at the end. Despite all the setting elements I liked and an Ocean's Eleven caper that had some good tricks, the job devolved into sentimental tripe and romance (half of which felt superficial and perfunctory) that reflected badly on the characters and didn't encourage me to continue the series.