Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Six of Crows Made Me Rethink The Grisha World

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published 2015 by Henry Holt and Company

465 pages, fantasy.

I was disappointed in Bardugo's first book set in her Grisha world, Shadow and Bone.  I never really connected to the characters, and overall I felt it didn't live up to its potential.  Still, I was so smitten with the cover of Six of Crows that I decided to give it a chance.  After all, many writers do improve with time.

I am so glad I decided to read it.  Six of Crows has so many terrific things going on, and Bardugo balances them all expertly.  There is the heist, of course, but more compellingly there is humor and heartache, love that heals and love that wounds, politics made personal, the personal swamped by politics, magic, MORE MAGIC, and one of the most gorgeous covers ever, not that that should influence my opinion.

(That cover though.  Coal black page edges and blood red end pages.  The raised lettering on the front cover.  The use of that gorgeous crow/city illustration as chapter headings.  This is one of the most beautiful books I've seen.)

Whenever an author uses multiple points of view, the two main risks are that they will all run together, and that some voices will be more interesting than others.  Bardugo completely avoids the first problem.  The characters are not narrating in first person, so Bardugo doesn't have to invent a new voice for each of them.  She does give each of them their own personality, and if some of those seem familiar (ruthless bad boy with tragedy in his past, super smart geek disowned by mean dad), don't worry; she puts her own stamp on all of it.  (Ruthless bad boy is WAY more ruthless than in your typical YA fantasy, and super smart geek is illiterate and gay.)  Some of the characters get more rounding and are easier to get invested in, but with more books coming, it will be interesting dig deeper into the backstories of the additional characters as well.

About those backstories--the book starts right off with the action, and you start to get a sense of who these characters are.  Then she starts with the flashbacks, which give the reader a better feeling for what made each of the Crows the way they are.  I really enjoyed the secrets and surprises that were revealed this way.

I kept hugging this book; it was making me so happy.  I am not happy about waiting months for the sequel, but I'm considering giving the original series another try, now that I've become enraptured with the world Bardugo has created.  

4.5/5 stars

*Have you read this?  What did you think?

*Have you ever had that experience of loving one work by an author but being left cold by their other works?  

*What's your take on bad boys who do truly bad things--can they still be adored, or is that morally problematic?  

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