Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
Really enjoyed this one! Great YA choice, even for adult readers. A little bit more of a mature read, due to the honest portrayal of the cost of human trafficking...but nothing I'd hesitate to recommend to most of our upper Middle School students.
Six of Crows is set in the same world as Bardugo's earlier Grisha series...a very Russian-esque world. Only this is more of a Victorian-era setting (think Oliver Twist).
The pacing was brisk, the action was taut, and the dialogue was very witty. There is a heist (oh, how I LOVE a well-planned heist that goes all kinds of sideways!!!) There is a revenge plot as well (love those too!). There are deeply flawed characters, but they are all multidimensional so no one is perfect and no one is a total villain.
The romance was there, but it was more of an undercurrent. It was there, providing motivation for characters' actions...and I loved watching the characters begin to realize how their feelings were unfolding. No one spent chapters making cow eyes at each other, and none of the characters compromised who they were as a person, to impress someone else...
I loved the diversity of the characters. You have several characters that have experienced some deep trauma, that shapes how they relate to the world and to other people within the story; but they are survivors, and while their trauma influences them...it doesn't define them as victims.
I loved that there were female friendships portrayed here. That is something you almost NEVER see in SciFi/Fantasy. The interactions between Inej and Nina and between them and the rest of the crew felt very authentic. I liked that they were both very strong young women; but not the bitter, overcompensating alpha-female trope. They just felt...very real.
I loved the point of view shifts, so that you got a deeper perspective into each character. I know for some of my students, this will be the first time they experience a novel with multiple POV...but I would encourage them to stick with it! The story continues in a straight line (it doesn't go back and re-tell the story over when the POV changes!)
I can see real growth in Bardugo as an author. I enjoyed her earlier series, but this just felt more polished and the pacing was much tighter, the characters much stronger.