Postmortem: Six of Crows

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“Some people see a magic trick and say, “Impossible!” They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night’s sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they’re the kind who won’t rest until they’ve mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I’m that kind.”

To borrow from Leigh Bardugo, author of the fantastic Young Adult fantasy Six of Crows:

Some people read a book and say, “Impossible!” They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night’s sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the book again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they’re the kind who won’t rest until they’ve mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I’m that kind.

I think to be a writer, when it comes to books, you have to be the third kind. You see, since I started writing there are few books that really allow me to suspend reality, that create an illusion strong enough to draw me out of sentence structure, imaginary plot blueprints, and word choice.

Six of Crows was one of those magical books, and now I can’t stop turning it over in my head.

Six of Crows was my first exposure to Leigh Bardugo’s previously established “grishaverse”, a fantasy universe where magic lives alongside dark and gritty realism. It follows gangster wunderkind Kaz Brekker on the heist of a lifetime, alternating perspectives among the five others he has chosen for his team: sharpshooting and fast-talking Jesper, acrobatic and driven Inej, gifted and vivacious Nina, vengeful and cold Matthias, and upper-class defector Wylan. The six misfits must find a way to work together to carry off the most difficult job of any of their lives without killing one another in the face of their varying goals and worldviews, and that might prove more challenging than the job itself.

Bardugo’s carefully built Grishaverse is perfect in that it doesn’t outshine the diverse and compelling cast of characters who inhabit it. She gives you just enough world-building information to make the setting realistic and vivid without over-explaining or boring her audience with exposition. All this serves to make her characters and their development absolutely sing. Each one is constructed to be unforgettable, but somehow avoids being precious or overwrought.  Details and backstories are delivered in tantalizing morsels that make the book impossible to put down, and I didn’t — I read the whole book in a day, then barreled to the library to borrow the sequel.

I had a grand total of one (1) problem with this book: I felt the characters’ ages were unrealistic. They read as far older than they are supposed to be, even taking into account past hardships and traumas. If Bardugo had aged them all up five to ten years, I honestly believe this would have been a near perfect book. I will allow the possibility that I feel this way because I’m not the intended audience of this young adult novel, but the themes and story are as mature as any adult content I’ve ever read.

Regardless of that criticism, I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, organized crime, beautifully executed characters, or young adult novels. I’m going to have a hard time getting anything done until I’ve read the sequel, so if I appear to temporarily fall off the face of the earth… you know why.

 

 

Published by clairelaminen

I am a Ventura, California native with a compulsion to create. I'm a storyteller, through writing, photography, and occasionally music. Weekends are for camping with my husband, reading, and hunting for vintage treasures, which I sell in my Etsy shop, Peace & Goodwill. My favorite things include lavender lattes, swimming in the ocean, true crime podcasts, The X-Files, and Peaky Blinders. I hope to become a full-time writer, bestselling novelist, and a continually improving reflection of God's grace. Proverbs 16:24

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