Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is definitely another popular modern ‘classic’ – there are 8,800 Amazon reviews with the average rating at 4.6. Additionally, there are 412,000+ Goodreads ratings with an average of 4.44 as of the time I checked. While this was released in 2014, the author’s earlier trilogy is being released on Netflix so I believe her works are getting more attention. Let’s stick with this one though so the cover and blurb follow.
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.
NEGATIVE REVIEWS because yes, even a hugely popular series will always have them.
–Characters act too mature for their age.
–Unlikable characters/ morally dark
–Slow pacing/ confusing
I’ll be honest – this is a new favorite of mine so be prepared for a bit of a glowing ramble toward the end. #sorrynotsorry
They are morally dark and do act too mature for their age. Many griped that they do things kids shouldn’t be able to do. However, as a fan of Die Hard and other action films, I’ve seen adults do things they shouldn’t be able to do. This didn’t bother me at all.
I liked the characters! Some complained of stereotypes, others of ableism, and still others that they weren’t compelling. I get that they aren’t for everyone, but the bottom line is that I enjoyed them and was rooting for them to succeed.
Some complained that all adult characters were horrible people with no redeeming values. This is a YA novel so I don’t think that’s unusual. Most teens feel that way about adults after all and the teens are the heroes of this story (as they should be in my opinion).
It is a fantasy world and the fact that it’s well developed does mean there’s a lot to learn especially for those of us who didn’t read the first trilogy. I shorten names I can’t pronounce and/ or skip them and there are a lot of names I couldn’t pronounce. This made it slightly harder to follow along, but I believe that’s on me.
The pacing was described as too fast and too slow. It was perfect for me. I liked that we bounced around between characters and even times so I got bits and pieces from all sides pretty quickly. That style works for me as a reader, but again, I can see where it wouldn’t work for everyone. There are multiple characters and each has their own story so it’s a bit like putting pieces of a puzzle together. The progression certainly isn’t linear and if you don’t connect to the characters then it would be a struggle.
I love having a romance in a story and I will admit I’m shipping some of the pairs here. That being said, it did feel almost as an afterthought to me. I didn’t find it particularly well-developed and possibly not necessary. I was more compelled by the found family trope and enjoyed the characters have connections to each of the other characters. As I do like the characters, cheering for an additional happy ending in the form of a romance wasn’t a difficult thing for me.
I don’t have to wait for the next book so it was easier to handle the ending. The initial plot issues were technically resolved, but the hook for the next book is extremely strong and compelling. As I normally hate such endings, I can’t blame fellow readers for that complaint at all. I would have hated to end this book without the ability to continue reading.
I will admit that it was funny reading some of the 1 star reviews. It appears that many relished hating on a popular book…and I get that. Again, not every book is for everyone. As it was for me, I’d like to chat about that a bit more.
It is an ensemble cast written in third person which is my favorite way to get a story! I believe each chapter was a different POV, but the character name is the chapter name so it’s easy to follow along. There are also time jumps within the chapters (see discussion above) but it worked to make me more sympathetic to each character. This style also allowed me to get a feel for each character individually as well as together in their ragtag group of misfits.
There’s a balance between the bigger world issues and the smaller personal struggles for each character. Both parts are revealed throughout the book through some excellent world building. Again though, the characters are morally grey at the least and dark may be more accurate – the world itself is also rather dark. There’s definitely violence and abuse in the characters’ backstories and in the current time. If you have specific triggers, this may not be the best choice for you. While I typically prefer fluff, it was fun embracing criminals as the heroes. For me, it was like cheering for Loki in the Avenger movies and I definitely did that! I like the touch of darkness and it certainly made the characters far from perfect.
And as with the Avengers, I think there were some great lines and I must share some here though I’ve been posting on social media too.
“This wasn’t the time or the place for moral quibbling.”
“Besides, old women must know something or they wouldn’t live to gather wrinkles and yell from their front steps.”
“Finally, they seemed to accept that the tree wasn’t going to move on its own.”
“She liked that word. Us. A word without divisions or borders.”
The writing style was one of my favorite parts and the lines above are just a few that really stood out and stayed with me.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I found the pacing, plot, and characters a great mixture that suited my personal tastes rather nicely. I will actually continue this series while moving on to our May Book Chat read as I can’t wait to see how it ends!
This book is now a new favorite of mine and I’m giving it a full 4/5 stars. Clearly, it works for many other readers too, but I really felt like I connected with it…on this second attempt. A friend recommended it previously and it was also recommended in readers’ groups. I only read the first chapter previously but it didn’t click then; this time though I absolutely fell in love.
I would suggest you give it a try if it sounds appealing to you! I always try not to give away spoilers, but if you have any question, just let me know and we can chat!
Yes, it’s time to switch hats and think about Six of Crows as writers now.
WORLD BUILDING – PACING – POV
I found this book to be a great example of multiple POVs and interconnected story lines. I just did something somewhat similar in the most recent Rahki book and I do wish I’d read this one first. Changing the format for my series brought new struggles I didn’t anticipate and reading this first would have been helpful. Here, I think the timing and pacing (which we’ve discussed in previous posts) becomes even more important when you are skipping between multiple characters, storylines, and time periods. There were a lot of moving pieces that worked together to complete this story. The author’s choices made sense to me and pushed the story along then also connected the various plots.
As I mentioned, I didn’t read the earlier books so it was a new world to me. It was quickly apparent that the world building was well-developed. I am sure I missed things from not reading the first books, but I still don’t feel it was necessary to start there. The depth shows whether I got every little detail or not. This is one of those ‘avoid info dumps and reveal your world organically’ learning points for me. It will be different for each book and writer, but I think we should have some faith in the readers’ ability to follow along and learn. And yes, I say this as an impatient reader who rushes through and skips parts.
Again though, we can’t please every reader. That is definitely the major lesson I learn each month during these review chats!
As touched upon above, some didn’t appreciate the YA tropes used in the book. I enjoy tropes personally. However, I think the lesson here is more about understanding the genre we write in and the readers’ expectations. So many of the negative reviews mentioned that they had high expectations because there was so much hype surrounding the book and series.
**As a side note, this is another reason to NOT panic when we receive negative reviews. They do help balance a readers’ expectations and they lend credence to the higher reviews.**
It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly what we love in a book. That is certainly okay…unless you are trying to review to improve your craft. I think that’s an important lesson to note here. The story dictated how she wrote it so all of these elements are interrelated. Every choice worked to tell the story even if every choice didn’t work for every reader. I see a lot of discussions in writer group about selecting POVs, worrying about flashback scenes, and dissecting world building (and I’ve blogged about those subjects in our monthly book chats too).
A story is more than the sum of its parts.
Writing is as close as we’ll get to real magic.
It was easier to chat about the other books than this one and yet I enjoyed this one more. There is an undefinable magic that makes a book more than just the sum of its parts…but that’s only in the hands of certain readers. Again, I think it’s important to remember that we each need to tell our stories our way and to expect some readers to like them and some readers to hate them. And yes, I’m planning on a separate blog post to discuss this in more detail!
As always, I’d love to hear what writing lessons you’ve learned from Six of Crows or any book, fellow writers! If you’d like to do a guest post for the book chat, feel free to send me an e-mail!
To all, if you just stumbled onto this chat, here is a link to the post with our 2021 monthly PNF/ UF Book Chat schedule. I think I’ve strayed more into fantasy adventure as a whole, but I’m sticking with the earlier title anyway. I’ve also posted an Amazon link for this book as well as our May choice (Moon Called: A Mercy Thompson Novel by Patricia Briggs).
And my monthly Book Chat wouldn’t be complete with a picture of one of my cats with the book so here is Izzie with Darcy in the background!
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