“There was no part of him that was not broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.”
Six of Crows is an action- filled story that follows six characters as they attempt to pull off a dangerous and near impossible heist. Bardugo tells the story through the third- person perspective of five of the central characters; Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Jesper. I half expected the use of so many perspectives to overwhelm the story but the opposite was true. Bardugo was able to create the perfect balance between the character focus and the focus on the plot, with her use of one actually aiding the other and vice versa. This decision allowed for well- developed and diverse characters that are becoming rare in YA literature, and made for a truly captivating story.
Bardugo focuses upon morally grey characters, fleshes them out and gives them redemption arcs that make each of them extremely complex and dynamic. Leader of the group Kaz Brekker is an anti- hero that is layered extremely well; on the one hand he is rude and distant but on the other he has a charm and vulnerability that make an audience connect with him and love him. His character arc and struggle with PTSD are executed extremely well, as is his dynamic with the other characters. The developing romance between this character and Inej is subtle and in no way overpowers the story, but is still important all the same.
Inej also has an important relationship with Nina. Their mutual respect for one another and the focus upon their friendship highlights Bardugo’s skill in creating brilliant dynamics between her characters, and succeeds in making the reader root for the group as they attempt to pull off the heist. The complexity of each character is only emphasized by these dynamics, and this can also be seen in the dynamic between Kaz and Jesper. Interestingly, Jesper seems to act almost as a foil to Kaz; while Kaz is quiet and closed off, Jesper is a character that enjoys joking around and acting spontaneously. As well as this providing a sense of comic relief, it also allows for a clear distinction to be made between the characters which I absolutely loved!
I could go on and on discussing how beautifully complex each character is, and how the characterization of each makes for morally grey characters that enable Bardugo to explore the ethics of certain actions and how far is too far for each character, but this review would go on forever if I did! Instead I’ll move on to discussing the plot. Unsurprisingly, Bardugo creates a complex plot supported by fantastic world building. The use of a third person narrative enabled the creation of a thrilling heist as Bardugo uses it to withhold much of the information so that the reader is just a clueless as many of the characters. This made for such an exciting read, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of this book!
However, with all of that said I did have a small issue in picturing these characters as the ages they were said to be. Though I knew that a point was being made about the characters facing trauma that forced them to become more mature at an earlier age, I couldn’t help finding it difficult to believe that these characters were actually as young as was claimed. However, this didn’t really detract from my reading experience, and I would still rate the book just as highly. It is only a small criticism that I thought I would mention in case anybody else had the same issue!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more of Leigh Bardugo’s work in the future!
“Jesper could never tell how much of what Kaz got away with was smarts and planning and how much was dumb luck.”