featured read

REVIEW: SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO

10:51Emilija A


This is going to be a long one so make yourself a cuppa, grab some snacks, and get comfy. As you can see from the title, this is my review of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I originally filmed a video review of this and uploaded it to YouTube, but it's probably going to stay private for the rest of eternity. I wanted to upload the video, but honestly as stupid as it sounds I'm legit scared of making it live. So instead, I'm transcribing the video here for a false sense of security. I have my reasons for doing this, some of you even know them. (I made some gifs from the video, so I'll be putting some of them in here instead.) 

Disclaimer: some would consider this review to contain mild spoilers. Read at your own risk. 

Disclaimer no. 2: if you are someone who loved this book and cannot bear the thought of someone else saying literally anything that doesn't include gushing and praising this book, click away. This is not the post for you if you're someone who can't engage in a mature discussion of differing opinions. If you feel the need to leave any negative comments or anything passive aggressive, don't bother, I'll be deleting all of it because I have no time for your bullshit. 

Disclaimer no. 3: if you are someone who loved this book - great. I'm happy that you found something of value in it. I personally didn't like it and I'm here to share about my own reading experience and my own opinions on this piece of work. I am not here to discourage anyone from reading this book - in fact the opposite, I encourage you to do so because I can guarantee you'll like it. I'm probably the one in a million who didn't. I am allowed to have my opinions, just like you have the right to have yours - however different they are. Let's all respect each other. 

Now that all of that is out of the way, let's move onto the review. 


I completely abandoned this book at page 395 (chapter 34 - Nina), the edition I own has 494 pages. I started reading this book in October of last year and it has taken me until now to DNF it. When I picked it up to finally finish it I just couldn't do it because I simply didn't care enough to finish it. I mean, I skimmed the last 100 pages so I know what happened and how it ended, but I didn't care enough to read every single word of it. 

As Six of Crows is set in the Grisha world, let's start here. I've only read Shadow and Bone from the Grisha trilogy and I read it immediately when it came out years ago (like, literally the edition I own is even titled The Gathering Dark because they wanted to keep UK covers different at the time). I didn't like Shadow and Bone so I didn't continue with the series, and the only reason why I gave Leigh Bardugo another chance was because of the hype this duology got. Not gonna lie, I was incredibly skeptical to begin with because I have major issues with the Grisha world and how it was built. 

The author claims that this world is inspired by Russia, but there is literally nothing Russian in these books. Literally only the names and some others words are "Russianised". That's it. Lifestyle, food, people's behaviour, the way they talk, how they interract with other people, hospitality, the food - none of those resemble anything even close to the Russian culture. I personally, felt like the Grisha world was built very carelessly and without respect. If you are someone who has never been exposed to this culture or the people who were brought up with it, to you this probably seemed exotic and super refreshing to read about - to me, not so much. It bothered me because I don't feel like justice was done here. She herself even addressed the Russian inconsistencies on her own official website (which you can read here). I quote, "...the world of Shadow and Bone was clearly inspired by Russia and I didn't want to violate the reader's sense of place by throwing some random language into the text." Ok great, that's why some of the words were "Russianised". I quote again, "Let's be honest: I chose to use Russia as my inspiration, but my goal was never authenticity". Ok... but what was the point then? Like, I understand that authors have the right to change stuff. I do. And having been writing myself for years now, I understand what it takes to build a world from scratch. But the fact that you even have to go and address the inconsistencies after your work has been published undermines the whole point of world building. You shouldn't need to explain yourself. Anyway, to wrap up this bit - when I read about this world it left a bad taste in my mouth. And that's my opinion. 

(To give context as to where I'm coming from with this - I was born and raised in Lithuania. We literally share a boarder with Russia and I grew up with this culture and it is something I value immensely. My mother was seventeen when Lithuania got back its freedom from the Soviet Union, I had relatives who were banned to Siberia during World War 2, and I use elements of the Russian language in my every day life at home. This culture is precious to me, and the way it was tackled here bothered me.) 

Another thing I want to address is the fact that it was claimed that the Six of Crows duology can stand on it's own and you do not have to read The Grisha Trilogy in order to understand and enjoy these books. That is a complete and utter lie. Yes, you can still enjoy these books, but only if you also enjoy being confused for half of the story when the characters mention some war that happened before, or Ravka, or something else and receive no further explanations as to why they're relevant to the story. Personally, I didn't because I was just lost and confused most of the time. The plain fact that the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology is linked for promotional purposes, doesn't sit well with me either. *cough* *cough* Milking that cash cow, I see. *cough* *cough* 

Moving on. Alright, SoC had all of the elements and the potential to be a great story. We have a decent sized cast, and a heist story. Who doesn't love a heist story? So I kept wracking my brain trying to figure out what and where things went wrong here. Let's explore this together, as this isn't a straight forward answer and involves many variables that made me not enjoy the story. 

I think the only good thing I can say about the characters is the fact this cast is diverse in many aspects. But that's literally it. I mean it's great that the cast is diverse and we're seeing more of this in the world of books, but yet again, to me it felt like diversity was added here for the sake of adding it. None of the characters were given the time and space to have their background/culture/religion explored in depth, and again I felt like injustice was done here. 

To me, they all felt like flat, two-dimensional, cliches. We have the super gorgeous, mysterious, fucked in the head leader Kaz, the funny friend Jesper, the badass girl who's got an interest in the leader, among others I don't remember now. We didn't get to know the characters at all throughout the story. Yes, the story was plagued with flashbacks to show their lives from before, but it wasn't to get to know them as a person, it was to show how they got to the dregs (that doesn't count as character development in my opinion, it's more for the purpose of building a larger storyline outside of the one you're writing). So yeah, there were no character arcs - the characters that we meet at the beginning of the story are the characters that we say goodbye to at the end of the story. So, the fact that readers claim that this book is driven by the characters is simply preposterous to me. Speaking of driving the book, the characters weren't doing it for me, but neither was the plot. Somebody needs to explain to me where the plot was because I couldn't spot one even with a magnifying glass. It felt like it was trying to be strung together with having them random flashbacks that made no sense, but it just didn't work because everything felt forced and I honestly just didn't care. That's my entire reading experience summed up into a sentence - I just didn't care. 

Ok back to the characters, I have more issues that I need to get off my chest. So, the main set of characters are all aged between sixteen and eighteen - they're all teenagers, right? So let's dissect this for a moment. 

1. The things that they are able to do, do not align up with their age. They are all teenagers so having Kaz running the dregs as if he's been doing it for decades, Inej being such a skilled assassin etc. - it just makes no sense. What's more, it was mentioned that they've been practicing this for years. Without any sort of mentorship (which none of them had) this cannot be achieved - it just isn't logistically possible. 

2. Everyone in the cast, except the shy dude, didn't have any sort of formal education, yet they were all incredibly articulate. Again, that made no sense. Their dialogue didn't feel like conversations that would happen between teenagers, plus it felt forced and unnatural. 

3. In the beginning, with the way Kaz was introduced, I was like "you know what? I see it. I see why people like him. He's mysterious, he's capable, he's badass." But then the more I read about him and the more I thought about him I thought that I would have to be insane for liking him because a) he's a selfish, arrogant, prick, b) he treats people like absolute garbage and places monetary value on them, c) he murders and mutilates people and feels absolutely no remorse for it, and d) his entire life, his every waking thought, moment, and action is fuelled by revenge. I can't relate to someone like that. It's not even fun to read about someone like that. And his excuse of a backstory is lacklustre to say the least. I'm sorry, but it was a pathetic attempt at trying to justify his actions. 

I think the reason why I felt so detached and just couldn't get into the story was because it felt like the characters themselves didn't care. The relationships between them are extremely weak. They're not friends, they're acquittances at best. There was no sense of camaraderie between them - they were literally brought together by obligation, money, and their own selfish gains. They didn't go to accomplish the heist because they value Kaz as their friend, or that they're motivated to do something good for the society. You know what, now that I think about it, the reason why I was so detached was because this entire heist was fabricated. It was literally bought and the fact that it didn't form naturally was the thing that went wrong here (for me). If it would have possibly been with Kaz himself wanting to do this, or Nina suggesting to Kaz then they would have had a solid motivation to do it... but money? I couldn't get behind that. 

Another thing that I want to touch on (and this is not gonna be relevant for like 99% of you) was how this story was written. To give Leigh Bardugo some credit, her writing has improved immensly since the Grisha trilogy. It really has, it has a nice flow and is easy to read. However, when I was reading the book I couldn't stop myself from nitpicking at this aspect and it took me out of the story, yet again preventing me from immersing myself completely. For the most part, this book is told and not a lot of things are shown. So when I did get to a point in the story when something was shown, it was so stark against everything else that I could literally picture an editor circling that part in red ink, being like "you need to show this and not tell it". I just couldn't get past it and stop myself from looking at the writing critically. 

So to sum up my reading experience: I was bored, I was annoyed, I didn't care, I was incredibly underwhelmed, and I have no sympathy for this book. 

Those are my thoughts. Trust me, I tried to make this review as neutral as I could but then every time I thought about the hype that surrounds this duology I just got angry because there are so many other books out there that deserve this type of hype way more, and I guess I'm just trying to make up for the lack of praising reviews of this book. In my opinion, there is very little to praise here. 

If you have issues with anything I've talked about in this review, I'd like to advise you to scroll up to the top and read my 3 disclaimers. 


Literally sweating from typing all of this out. Anyway. Have you read SoC? What did you think? Once, again, I'd like to remind everyone to respect other's opinions. We all have the right to feel how we feel. 

Much love, 

Em

You Might Also Like

0 comments

TWITTER FEED

Contact Form