Bookish Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 2015 by Hachette Children’s Group

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Six of Crows (Book #1)

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/5

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Review: I was really looking forward to this series. I’d read the Grisha trilogy and fell in love with the world Leigh Bardugo had created so I was keen to revisit with a whole new cast of characters!

Six of Crows started off really strong. I was totally sucked into the plot, the different characters and their predicaments – I loved finding out how each of them had come to be in Ketterdam and they had really strong back stories and felt properly fleshed out. Needless to say I grew attached really quickly! Kaz was the ruthless gangleader with the troubled past he had buried deep inside him, Inej, kidnapped into slavery and was given an escape from a life of indenture by Kaz, Nina the Grisha in exile who has a complicated history with Matthias a loyal and righteous Fjerdan, with an unfortunate soft spot for Nina. We also have Jesper, the trigger happy guy from a humble background with a bad gambling habit, and finally Wylan the posh kid who has ended up right in the middle of the most ambitious heist ever.

I liked how distinct they all were not just diverse in terms of race (brilliant by the way) but also their personalities. One of my favourite things was easily the fact that these guys aren’t and don’t pretend to be perfect or even good at times! Kaz can be really nasty but it’s his way of surviving and the thing that’s got him to the top of his game in Ketterdam. The conflict between Nina and Matthias was great because you totally root for them but also understand why it wasn’t an instalove happily ever after for them (and waaay more realistic). And Inej despite her horrible experiences still holds on to her faith and light temperance which contrasted really well with Kaz.

As I read on, I found myself more invested in the brilliant characters over the plot! I loved how their back stories trickled into the story as we went along and the flashbacks were seamless and didn’t feel clunky at all. I was totally intrigued by some of their histories, especially Kaz and Nina’s, and very curious as to how they would play into this book and the next. Also credit to Leigh Bardugo, who is now queen of my heart, because there is not one love triangle to be found anywhere in this book – even with six characters milling about!

The pace of the book was great, things were continuously happening and nothing felt like filler – all of the events related back to The Heist. The audacity of the entire plot kept it totally riveting and the characters’ personal motivations for the money made it all the more nail-biting! It was all going swimmingly until I got to the last quarter when The Heist is going down and the proverbial hits the fan. Without going into detail and falling foul of giving away spoilers, whilst reading this section I found it a little difficult to follow the action – the description in this section of where they are and how they get from A to B is a little dense and I think the problem was that I just couldn’t visualise it – so more ‘it’s me, not the book’ as I don’t think this would be noticeable to most readers but I have notched off 0.5 stars. I found myself dragging and taking longer to just power through that section… and that’s when my book buddy stepped in!

I’d organised a buddy read of Crooked Kingdom with Laura over at Reading Sanctuary for when I’d finished Six of Crows and honestly that powered me through. She was great, really encouraging and I’m so glad I persevered because Six of Crows went back to being fabulous after that very brief, slightly frustrating, section. We’ve started our buddy read of Crooked Kingdom and it is seriously *so* good so far – expect another rave-filled review soon! So if there are two takeaways from this post it’s:

  1. Absolutely read Six of Crows and get ready to fall in love with some awesome characters (and don’t be stupid like me and get distracted by or lost in the description in *that* scene)
  2. Get a book buddy/buddy read a book – it’s so much fun to be able to fangirl to someone in real-time because they’re reading the book at the same time. There’s nothing better than fangirls coming together and… well, fangirling together!

Have you read Six of Crows? What did you think? Or maybe you’ve already discovered the brilliance of buddy reading? Let me know your thoughts!!

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Bookish Event: Worlds Collide Tour with Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo

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Worlds Collide Tour… Yes, it happened. And I went. Still rather surreal because the London event sold out in record time – this is totally unsurprising though because this tour brought together two huge stars of the YA ‘verse. Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo are both New York Times best-selling authors and BFFs in real life. It was Rainbow’s YA novels, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl which rocketed her to fame and she returned to the Fangirl ‘verse to write Carry On. Leigh Bardugo meanwhile has two series under her belt already. The Grisha Trilogy books were published between  2012 to 2014 and she returned to the Grisha ‘verse with her Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom duology.

I’ve met Rainbow Rowell before during her last UK tour in 2014 but this was my first time meeting Leigh so I was super excited! I bought a new copy of Fangirl (my third… #noregrets) and Ruin and Rising to get the exclusive tour t-shirt. The event started with Rainbow and Leigh chatting about how this event compared with their first ever promo events: Leigh’s was in a basement whilst Rainbow’s was in a bar and they agreed she’d come full circle with this one being held in a church! Leigh also shared that Kaz was originally called Baz but she changed it after Rainbow’s Carry On. Leigh even managed to squeeze in a Hamilton reference within the first ten minutes and it set the fangirl tone of the rest of the event!

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Rainbow and Leigh kicked off the event with dramatic readings from their two most recent books which seriously made my life. We started with Carry On – the scene in the catacombs. Rainbow was Simon and Leigh, a brilliant Baz. I cannot overstate how hilarious this entire section was. One moment that pretty much sums it up is when Rainbow hesitated to swear, and then Leigh pointed out she’d be swearing in a church no less! So Rainbow plucked up her courage and belted it out. Next they read from Crooked Kingdom – the scene where Nina explains the Princess and the Barbarian story to Matthias with Leigh as Nina and Rainbow as Matthias. I love this scene because of its wonderful cheekiness and awkwardness and these two had it down pat.

We then moved onto the Q&A section of the event and there were some interesting questions all around. I’ll summarise a few here for you guys.

1.What do you both think of diversity in YA? Leigh said YA authors tend to have experienced marginalisation growing up and their books are like giving the marginalised a voice. However, she also said that although YA often has lots of diverse characters, we need more diverse authors. Rainbow agreed that she wanted to write real and true stuff that was reflective of reality.

2. Is Kaz based on Al Capone? This elicited a brilliant response from Leigh – she said Kaz is the hipster Al Capone! “He was pulling eyes out before it was cool.” She also said The Untouchables was a huge inspiration for Six of Crows. 

3. What is the inspiration for your characters? Rainbow said her characters don’t come to her fully formed – often it’s a train of thought that leads to a plot. This is how Fangirl came about, when Rainbow wondered what it would be like if she went to university now. Leigh said some of her characters come fully formed like Matthias. She compared the first draft to an awkward first date where she figures out if she likes the character (brilliant analogy!) One thing she does is to write lots of dialogue to ‘find’ the character.

4. What are your thoughts on the revision process? Rainbow said her first response was to question all of the edits (whhaaat, you don’t understand my genius!!) but that upon reflection she values it as it means someone is paying attention. Leigh said she dealt with critique by taking a walk, a shower, a shot (haha!)

5. What are your thoughts on taking part in NaNoWriMo? Rainbow said that Fangirl was a 2010 NaNoWriMo novel and talked about the myth of NaNoWriMo is that you have the perfect novel at the end. She said it was rather about coming up with a really good first draft to work on beyond November. Rainbow said she carried on working on Fangirl nine months after NaNoWriMo. Leigh said Ruin and Rising started out as a NaNoWriMo novel too!

6. Which of your fictional world would you like to live in? Leigh was reluctant to choose because the Grisha world is dangerous but she would choose Ravka and be a Fabrikator because she wants to live. Rainbow said she wanted to live in the Mage world because magic duh but that she’d want to hang out with Cath, Levi and Regan.

7. How did you write your books and do you have a day job now? Rainbow said she had to stop doing housework (which got a massive round of applause!) She said “If you’ve got kids that love you and a novel, who cares if your house is dirty?!” (Preach sister!)

8. How do you write evil but hot villains? Leigh answered that it wasn’t difficult as we’d think because ladies love evil (yaas indeed!) She said she got flak for the Darkling but she had no regrets because she wanted to show that all people who come into your life and appear charming aren’t always good and vice versa.

9. Which Harry Potter house and Patronus are you both? Rainbow said she identified as a Ravenclaw so was in denial when she was sorted into Slytherin. She also said she hasn’t taken the Patronus quiz because that’s not something that is assigned in the book. Leigh said she was Slytherin all the way and her Patronus is Stevie Knicks!

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Although we were waiting for the signing for some time, it is testament to the success of these two ladies that the queue was still out the door at 10pm! Worlds Collide was easily one of the most fun events I’ve been to in a long time. Rainbow and Leigh are obviously BFFs and it came across in how comfortable together and played off each other really well. They’re also the loveliest people and wanted to talk to their fans even when being rushed. If you haven’t read *ALL* of their books I highly recommend you go and read them now. Go, now. Seriously 🙂