June 6, 2016

5 Lessons I Learned Reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I am sure that you have heard of Six of Crows before. I am sure that you know who the author is and the names of all of the main characters. This is definitely not the first post about the books that you have read. In fact, a lot of you probably have memorized quotes and dedicated a lot of time to proclaiming the praises of the story. 

I decided that a review was kind of pointless. Almost everyone knows about the book and its pristine reputation. You don't need another person screaming at you to read this book (no matter how amazing it is). I will tell you that I loved everything about it and I am begging the universe to somewhat get me an early copy of Crooked Kingdom. My words cannot do this book the justice it deserves.

So, I decided to do something a little bit different for a book that deserves so much more. To me, the signal that a book is truly great, unforgettable, and absolutely worth reading is that it taught me something. Or even in rare cases, more than one thing. Six of Crows is so awesome, that it taught me dozens of things about people, life, writing, and the world as a whole. I thought that I would discuss five of the lessons that Six of Crows taught me that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

1. Every character has a story to tell.

Six of Crows is told in multiple different perspectives. Honestly, that was intimidating to me at first, especially due to the complexity of the plot. I was afraid that either the characters would be two-dimensional and boring, or I would be over stimulated and horribly confused with having so many different voices in my head. 

Fortunately, Six of Crows washed away my fears with the distinct, clear, and unique perspectives. Every character had a different personality, with different strengths and weaknesses. Bardugo used her multiple perspectives as a tool to add to the plot, world, and the overall appeal of the novel. 

She juggled the lives of half a dozen people in a way that I could understand. I sympathisized with every single character, even Kaz himself (which still kind of scares me by the way). Every character ended up being so much more than I thought in the beginning. They all had vivid background stories, impossible hopes, and dare-worthy dreams. I felt as if I intimately got to know every single of the characters.

2. The difference between hero and villain is not as always clear.

This whole novel is based on the concept of an anti-hero, which is defined as a main character who lacks the traditional traits of a hero, such as honesty, morality, and bravery. Notice that I did not say villain. I would go as far as to say that there is not a villain in Six of Crows. All of the characters are equally amoral and it is hard to determine who is the worst of the worst. You could try to peg the blame on Pekka Rollins, Van Eck, or even the Fjerdans, but they are not the sole perpetrators. They were doing what they were taught to do--to cheat, steal, and look out for their own interests. 

I do not even consider Kaz a villain, even though he cheated, lied, stole, bribed, and killed. He, like all of the other members of his gang, was a kid thrown in an impossible situation against seemingly insurmountable odds. They were just trying to survive while being stuck in the scum bucket of Kerch.

The standards for heroes and villains shifted in Six of Crows in the morally gray area that YA is so desperately lacking. Bardugo did an amazing job of creating that gray area and sticking to it, even though it made Kaz and his crew seem like the villains of the story. She questions the traditional role of a hero and their place in literature. I hope more authors will be brave and creative enough to do so more in the future. 

3. Leigh Bardugo is the ultimate master of writing.

I think that I took Bardugo's writing for granted in The Grisha trilogy. I was too caught up in the unique world for the first time and its plethora of magic to notice the beauty of the writing. But I was really able to notice Bardugo's mastery of the craft throughout Six of Crows. She was able to write witty dialogue, heart-warming romantic moments, and soul-crushing suspense. There are so many quotes that I cannot list all of them, but I will give you a couple of snippets to show her awesomeness.

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”  
“He needed to tell her...what? That she was lovely and brave and better than anything he deserved. That he was twisted, crooked, wrong, but not so broken that he couldn't pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her. That without meaning to, he'd begun to lean on her, to look for her, to need her near. He needed to thank her for his new hat.” 
“When we get our money, you can burn kruge to keep you warm.""I'm going to pay someone to burn my kruge for me.""Why don't you pay someone else to pay someone to burn your kruge for you? That's what the big players do.” 

4. There are many different kinds of love.

Even though Six of Crows is mainly an action/fantasy novel, it has strong undertones of romance. Normally, I would say that a book as action-packed and intense as Six of Crows does not need romance, but I think that Bardugo flawlessly incorporated many different kinds of romance into her story. 

For example, I adore the relationship between Matthias and Nina. Their relationship starts out far from perfect, with them practically holding knives to each other's throats. But their arc was so gradual and complete that I could not help but love it. They are the obvious and traditional love birds of the book and I cannot wait to see where their relationship goes in the rest of the series.

Then, there is the relationship between Inge and Kaz. This one is more nontraditional than Matthias and Nina's (of any of them are truly traditional). Inge and Kaz have a lot of background together, but they do not know what to do with it. With the surprising twist about why Kaz wears his gloves, I am not entirely sure how it is going to play out, but I am still rooting for them to figure it out. 

Then, there is the hints of the relationship between Jesper and Wylan, which is completely not traditional. It took me a while to figure it out (I am slow sometimes when it comes to shipping), but I think it was a nice addition to the story. 

Since all of the characters are so unique, their relationships are equally unique. Each couple has its difficulties to overcome, but they all believe that love is worth the risk. 

5. An author can write a unique story in the same world.

I honestly admit that I can get bored when authors write new series in the same world. Unfortunately, this has happened with a lot of my former favorite series (like the Shadowhunter books). I do not begrudge authors for sticking with the same world, but I wish that their novels would be more unique. 

Even though Six of Crows is in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, they can be treated as separate series. You do not have to read one in order to understand the other (but I highly recommend reading both series because they are so amazing and Bardugo is a master of everything). 

There is crossover with the other series, but it is not overbearing. I feel like Six of Crows can stand by itself, which is what I want from a book in the same world. It did not recycle any of the plots or surprises from the Grisha trilogy and I felt as if I was seeing a completely new side of the world. 

Bardugo showed me that the same world has many different dimensions and when the world is as dynamic and interesting as the Grisha world, it deserves a different series and a different point of view. 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

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.

Have you read Six of Crows? Do you think it lived up to the massive amount of hype? Did you learn anything from reading it? What book taught you the most? Would you like to see more lessons books have taught me?

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