Review: Rooting for the bad guys

“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo shifts allegiances


In the world of young adult fiction, very rarely do the readers suffer the internal conflict of whom they support. There are heroes and then there are villains. The novel “Six of Crows,” a spin-off of “The Grisha Trilogy” by Leigh Bardugo breaks the barriers between good and bad, leaving the lines (and our allegiances) blurred.

This Russian historical fiction and high fantasy novel begins in Ketterdam, home to bustling trade ships, gangs and casinos. This is where Kaz Brekker, the lieutenant of a famed gang known as the Dregs controls business, docks, ships and, of course, the hearts of thousands of readers.

Bardugo makes the reader chase suspense with the flip of every page and only leaves you wanting more, ”

— Kimia Mohebi

The plot of this novel doesn’t really begin to thicken until almost all of the primary characters are introduced. Kaz is faced with the proposition of 30 million kruge (their world’s currency) in exchange for the rescue of a famous chemist who could harness and manipulate the power of magical beings known as Grisha. He, along with five other gang members and outcasts must embark on a perilous journey, each for their own reasons — be they longing for freedom, redemption, revenge, or escape from debt or sheer boredom.

The most prevalent factor that caused me to want more content was the characters. Kaz Brekker, after all, is nothing without his crewmembers who possess strange names and even stranger backgrounds. With Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Wylan, it is impossible for a dull quest. Not only did they each have a backstory that could be made into a series on its own, but their development over the course of just one book was tremendous. Whether it be through slave trade or free will, each character’s method of arrival to Ketterdam and adventure felt real. I ached for characters, rooted for them and (most importantly) accepted them for their flaws.

Despite having lavish plots and absorbing characters, one eye-opening concept remained branded in my brain: the idea that the world isn’t divided up into good and evil. We have been raised to classify people within the boundaries of hero and villain. In reality, however, the line between good and bad is often so blurred, that it becomes hard to see the difference. This case is evident throughout the course of the book and is seen in every character invented by Bardugo.

Bardugo’s “The Grisha Trilogy” opened up a world of magical and mystical beings, but often left readers feeling unsatisfied with plot and relationship development. The tropes felt all too common, as if the only thing done differently was the naming of characters. “Six of Crows” took the same world and made it even more captivating than before.

Bardugo makes the reader chase suspense with the flip of every page and only leaves you wanting more. Yet no fear: she has announced that the sequel to “Six of Crows” will release in 2016.