Thursday, September 24, 2015

ARC Review: Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: September 29nd, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Look, if that divinely morbid cover art isn't enough to convince you . . . then I'm pretty much at a loss.

I'll try anyway.

The incredible amount of hype for this book unsettled me, primarily because I've never read Leigh Bardugo's previous work. The line for this ARC copy (thanks Henry Holt and Company!) was excessive, and when I first picked it up, I had relatively indifferent thoughts towards it, even after the blurb.

However, after barely the first page, I was hooked. This, in itself, is really a feat. If you're on a a reading low, read this book. I haven't really been getting that interested in what I'm reading these days . . . but this book wrenched me right out of my slump. Bardugo blasts through the first chapter, guns blazing with clever, well-paced prose, lively and mysterious characters, a fitting and adaptive tone, an eerie and dangerous setting -- it's fantastic. The greatest achievement of this book, however, is in its totality: it is one hell of a series-starter. Bardugo is able to present six of the wildest and angstiest people I've had the pleasure of reading, with a twisted as hell plot, and she does this all while laying down un-finished story arcs, tiny Chekov guns, and a breathtaking finale that releases the major tension in the novel but piles on so many more questions.

In short, this book is probably smarter than all of us.

The characters are just incredible. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan. Each of the six main characters are utterly believable and interesting in their own rights. Now, this is hard enough to do with traditional narration. But Bardugo tackles the mountain of a challenge of using multiple-character narration in this piece, giving us five different persepctives. AND IT WORKS. So often, characters in such pieces are either reduced to caricatured language, or they all sound the same. In this piece, Bardugo really works herself hard to keep each of the characters distinct. It's not completely distinguishable, mind you, and there are a couple of instances of overlap -- but this is to be expected as six people should share some kind of similar thought.

Also . . . the characters. They're so good. They're handled so well. Kaz, for example, is nearly indestructible for much of the novel due to his level of forethought, intelligence, and utter emotional coldness . . . but Bardugo still imparts great suffering and hardship on Kaz and because of her ability to craft well-defined characters, we suffer as well. And it's weird that we suffer because all of the characters have the morals of a black hole.

Also, THE CHARACTERS. Their romances! Are! Not! Prioritized! The characters have emotional journies that are not entirely relative to the main plot of the novel, and this has the incredible effect of making the novel feel as though its characters are historical and actually real rather than fictional. All three of the main ships in this novel never interrupt the main storyline, and we are then able to actually watch how the ships affect characters in their decisions unrelated to romance. It's a work of art.

The prevalence of non-traditional morals, characters with disabilities, strong female friendships, and romances that back-grounded and developed . . . . it's good on the representational front. Not perfect, but good enough to keep me going.

The writing is just good. It's just so good. And its implemented to build a world that I want to live in after having read it. I want to be in Kerch and explore the whole of the city.

- Marlon
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