To me, this book is a bit like a fantastical version of Ocean’s Eleven. Of course, the plot of Six of Crowns is quite different, but, like Ocean’s Eleven, it involves a witty cast of characters who each possess a unique skill; a seemingly infeasible heist; and incredible twists unveiled with the air of a magician’s flourish.
Among the many inhabitants of the beautiful and expansive world of Six of Crows, there are Grisha, people born with special powers (such as the ability to heal, to control water, or to manipulate materials). These powers can be used for great good. However, towards the beginning of the novel, news of a dangerous drug called jurda parem, which enhances a Grisha’s ability, begins to surface. Not only does the drug enable Grisha to cause terrible destruction with little effort, but it is also highly addictive and dangerous to the Grisha themselves.
Kaz Brekker, nicknamed “Dirtyhands” for his apathetic and ruthlessly practical actions, is offered a mountain of money should he succeed at an unfeasible heist: stealing the scientist who created jurda parem from the nearly impenetrable Ice Court in Fjerda. He promptly assembles a skilled team, each chosen for their expertise in a certain area.
What I loved most about Six of Crows was the characters. The six main characters are each vividly developed and unique in their own wonderful way. In addition, their conversations with each other are entertaining and witty.
The characters take turns narrating the chapters, so we get a glimpse into the minds of each of the characters at different points in the story. Reading from each character’s perspective was really enjoyable, as each character has a different way of thinking. I liked how we were able to learn about each character’s thoughts and vulnerabilities–information that other characters may not perceive. Nevertheless, although she gives readers peeks into each character’s mind, Leigh Bardugo still manages to conceal information from readers–and reveal it in with incredible, unexpected plot twists.
I found the chapters narrated by Kaz Brekker–the leader of the group; a boy whose past is so nebulous and whose emotions are so imperceptible to others that some view him more as a legend than a teenager–particularly interesting; they give readers an understanding of this outwardly hardened and indestructible boy.
What’s interesting about this book is that none of the characters would call themselves heroes. They each have their own motive, and some of them don’t even get along. However, as the story progresses and as we gather little shards of each character’s past, we begin to understand them, and we learn what path led them to a future in which they would attempt one of the most dangerous and inconceivable heists. Though they are not obvious heroes, they do heroic things: they fight for each other, save each other, and care for each other. And despite being hardened by their pasts, they still manage to act like regular, bantering teenagers at times.
I will warn that there are several violent fights, and I could have done with less violence (however, this coming is from someone who used to be frightened by The Lion King). Nevertheless, this book, its world, and its characters are so vivid, intriguing, and compelling that I would, without a doubt, recommend it for YA and fantasy lovers.
– Mia T.