Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Taking place in beautiful Venice, Prosper and his little brother Bo are running away from their evil aunt Esther. They ran away because Esther is planning on separating the two boys, keeping Bo and sending Prosper off to boarding school. But, the two manage to escape and run away into the land that their mother always told them about, Venice.

Luckily, the Thief Lord, or Scipio, take them under his wing along with a few other children. The rugged band begin to steal valuable items to sell to make a living. A mysterious man, the Conte, asks them to steal a wooden wing for a very high amount of money. Of course, the children agree and start their hunt for the wing.

The novel follows Prosper’s struggles to take care of his brother while still trying to participate in the wing hunt. Deeper into the book, you realize that the Thief Lord is actually the son of a wealthy man, and has been stealing his own father’s money for the group! The children begin to distrust the Thief Lord and decide to steal the wing on their own.

What I really liked about this book was how independent the children were and how they could make a living by themselves. My favorite character was definitely Bo because he reminded me of myself; a reckless, teasing, little brother. My favorite twist is when you find out the Thief Lord is the son of a rich man because it is so surprising.

Exciting and surprising, The Thief Lord written by Cornelia Funke is an enchanting novel for middle school readers. It contains many twists and turns that will leave you wanting to read more. This is one of the best mystery novels that I have read and I am planning on reading the sequel when it comes out!

-Daniel C

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Just as I was giving up on the monotonous plots and characters of many current YA novels, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, reminds me of how truly fantastic YA books can be. Six of Crows is the first book in its duology, followed by Crooked Kingdom. Bardugo wrote this series after The Grisha Trilogy, which is set in the same world. However, one does not need to read the trilogy beforehand (I did not), as they center around different characters and places.

My favorite part of this book is that it is set in a different world that has been so beautifully fleshed out by the author, including unique countries, cultures, and languages. Another cool part is that the band of six are so diverse and provide a wide variety of representation in race, sexual orientation, and both physical and mental disabilities. The group live in a buzzing city called Ketterdam (taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam). This 1800s type city is right next to the sea is filled with merchants, cargo ships, gang claimed territories, and thieves. Speaking of thieves and gangs…

Six of Crows story follows a gang (literally) of antihero teenagers, each with their own bitter backstory. Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands aka Bastard of the Barrel is the leader of the gang called the Dregs. He is mysterious, cold, and delightfully sarcastic. Despite Kaz’s limp in his leg, no one in their right mind would dare cross him or his cane. Next is Inej aka The Wraith. But don’t let her small frame fool you, as she the deadliest and sneakiest one on the team. Right hand man and life of the group is Jesper. The only thing stronger than his sharpshooting ability is his gambling addiction.

Thirdly, we have Nina, a Heartrender Grisha, meaning she has special abilities that can manipulate others’ bodies. However, if Nina lived in our world, she’d be an A-lister actress for sure. Any group of fighters needs a brooding muscle man, and Matthias sure fills that part, no matter how reluctant he might be. And last but not least, we have bright young merchling, Wylan, who is new to the heathen street life, but becomes an incredible asset.

These crooked youngsters embark on an insane mission that’s filled with humor, struggle, suspense, emotions, and wonderful fight scenes. The opening scene with Inez is my favorite scene as we get to see two gangs in a “parley” meeting. It is so intriguing and thrilling, specifically with how we see it from Inej’s bird’s eye view. The amount of detail that Leigh Bardugo put in her writing and characterization is truly spectacular and I recommend this book 100%!

-Ava K.

The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

sixofcrows_leighbardugoIn the dark, murky alleyways of the merchant town of Ketterdam, a story begins to unfold with a crazy team and a perilous heist.  And, it all starts out in one of the biggest gangs, the Dregs.  Kaz Brekker, a cripple and the head of the Barrel, the hangout of the Dregs, is back at it again.  He receives an offer from Van Eck, a powerful merchant, describing a mission to kidnap a certain scientist.  And, not being able to resist the pile of money, he starts to pick out his team.

First, there is Inej, a young woman who has been traded in trafficking but whose freedom has been purchased.  Now, she serves as The Wraith, a great climber and spy.  And, though she is the right-hand (wo)man to Kaz, there may be other reasons she is joining the mission.  Inej’s character reminds me of the song, “Selecter” from James Bond.  The whole mood and rhythm of the song matches Inej’s outlook to each task she is given.  Next, Jesper, is a trick-shooter who cannot seem resist a game of poker.  His back story is slowly revealed as the heist unfurled.  Then, Matthais and Nena, a pair with an unknown story, have to work together once again, even as memories emerge from their past.  And, last, the newest member to join the gang, and the most cultured of them all, is Wylan.

If this novel was turned into a film, a leitmotif for it could be Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” for its strong espionage-like quality of music.  Due to the heist, whenever situations get tense, this theme would pop into my head.

Six of Crows was a crazy whirlwind of a book including an unforgettable heist.  The novel was entirely riveting between the obstacles they overcame and how each character grew.  I enthusiastically  give a 9.8/10 to this Leigh Bardugo story.  The only point deduction was the confusing introduction, which only proved to be a small bit useful later in the journey.  Be sure to check out this novel as well as the recently published, Crooked Kingdom (second in the sequel), as well as the Grisha trilogy!

-Maya S., 9th grade

Six of Crows is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.