On my last trip to the library, I picked up not one, but two books by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve heard so many people raving about how great Six of Crows is, that I figured I had nothing to lose by picking it up.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I’d love a book only to find out that I didn’t like it at all once I read it, I’d have quite a few dollars. But that wasn’t the case at all for this book, and I was actually speechless when I finished reading. Rather than just gush about all the amazing things about this book, I’m going to list 10 reasons why you need to read this book (if you haven’t already). For the record: I’ve read Shadow and Bone, but I haven’t gotten to the other books in the trilogy yet. I’m planning to, but just borrowed a stack of books all at one, and now feel obligated to read them before I borrow new ones.
World building - Leigh Bardugo’s skills were evident in S&B, but SoC showcases them at a whole new level. The book starts out in Ketterdam, a city in Kerch. It’s inspired by the Netherlands, and there’s so much detail. The layout of the city, what the buildings look like in the rich areas and the slums, the foods (waffles with apple syrup sounds pretty damn good), the gods, belief system, customs, geographical features, and phrases. This is also repeated when they go to Scandinavian-inspired Fjerda, which has an equally complex system of gods, beliefs, customs, and geographical features, along with altogether different foods. There’s a totally different language as well.
The characters - We meet the characters slowly over the initial chapters, but this is done to give us time to get a feel for them. I really liked this because it gave me a chance to get to know them, and form a sort of attachment to each of them individually and as a crew. By the time I realized that the plot was moving pretty slowly, I had already become invested in each of the characters and the group as a whole, and wanted them to succeed in their heist, even though it was against pretty hefty odds.
The plot - The story has no central narrator, but is told from shifting points of view of nearly all the major characters. While it gives us a variety of insights, and allows us to see different perspectives, it also controls the information the reader receives. At any given time, we’re only getting part of the story. The plot is a good one, full of action, and surprises. It seems like no single character even has the full picture, even Kaz, who is the leader of the group.
The drama - As I read, it was easy to forget that the oldest character was still a teenager. When you have a bunch of teenagers in close quarters and a high stress environment, expect a lot of drama. And that’s exactly what we got. But drama makes for an interesting story. Especially since the characters are smart, streetwise, overall psychologically and emotionally hurt, but resilient and witty. They find ways to cope. Sometimes it’s with anger, but sometimes it’s with humor. Plus, the humor is pretty damn funny.
The romance (sort of) - Another thing you’ll most often find in a group of teenagers is hormones. While they’re generally focused on the mission, there’s definitely some flirting involved. More than just flirting, some of these kids even might be catching feelings for each other. In the world they live in, feelings are a luxury. Because they’re struggling for survival on a daily basis. They don’t live in a home with parents and attend school. They live in a slum where only the strong survive. But they still manage to find something beautiful in others that they might be able to love.
The underdog - I’m such a huge fan of an underdog story. While none of these kids are technically sweet and innocent, they’re kind of underdogs. I want them to successfully pull off this heist. They’re definitely no angels, but as you’ll see in the first chapter, there’s people in Ketterdam that are way worse than they are. Keep reading, and the people get continuously worse. The bad people are so freaking bad, too. You’ll want Kaz and his crew to succeed too.
The backstories - Everyone’s got a story to tell. I’m always curious to find out what makes people the way they are. That’s probably why I read so much, and it’s definitely why I chose to work in mental health. I’m always disappointed when a book feeds you little hints about a person’s backstory but never reveals the whole thing. This is NOT one of those books. By the end of the book, we find out the full story about each of the characters that led them to Ketterdam, and being in the right place and the right time to be part of the heist.
The upcoming Netflix series - If you haven't heard about this, Netflix is working on a series that incorporates both the Shadow and Bone series and the Six of Crows duology. I know the TV/movie adaptations are never as good as the books, but I'm still planning to watch it. So, if you haven't read these series, read them and we can compare and critique!
The Gasp Factor - People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit. This book had an exceptionally high gasp factor, since there were SO MANY plot twists that I was completely shocked by. The way it was narrated by various characters meant that I was often blindsided, and wound up with a gasp factor of 30.
The closure - While this book ends on a cliffhanger, which I don’t normally appreciate, it does provide a lot of closure. By the third chapter, I was already committed to reading the second book in the series. Cliffhangers usually mean that I feel as if an author is trying to coerce me into reading another book just to find out what happens, and often leaves me without an adequate sense of closure. While a part of this plot is indeed left unresolved, most of the loose ends are tied up nicely, and I don’t feel as if I’m being tricked into reading the next book at all, especially since I was already planning to read it.