Book Reviews

Review: Crooked Kingdom By Leigh Bardugo

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Published: September 27th 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.


Series: Six of Crows Duology #2


Source: Local Library 


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure


Synopsis: When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.


Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
 

MILD SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. 

Review: 

Clearly, the Six of Crows duology has an immense amount of hype and by raving about Crooked Kingdom, I’m just adding to the hype pile. But trust me when I say this, this truly is an exceptional young adult fantasy series. I could say this about so many other fantasy books I’ve read, but this series has stuck out the most. In this story, there is no black and white. Everything and everyone is morally gray. There’s thieves, con artists, murder, the full package of violence. But even then, these characters and each of their stories are so incredibly fascinating and you can’t help but fall in love. 

Leigh Bardugo’s writing never ceases to amaze me. Her writing is gorgeous, from Inej’s Suli proverbs, the thoughts of all of the characters, the humor and angst it’s all written beautifully. Leigh Bardugo has a way with words. As for the plot, things became a lot more complicated. In Six of Crows, the plot was great, but there were some parts that were predictable. Crooked Kingdom turned the whole plot upside down. There were plans after plans, Kaz was still able to come with another brilliant scheme. Even when things went to sh*t, he was still able to come with another backup plan. I really didn’t expect any of the things that happened, in regards to the plot. Bardugo truly crafted a brilliant story line. 


As I’ve mentioned before, the characters are the heart of the story. Each and every one of the six went through character development and grew throughout the story. Matthias became less brooding and more open minded, he began to show more compassion and love. He was willing to change his mind on Grisha and not just for Nina, but for himself as well. Nina was going through so much in this book. She dealt with addiction but emerged stronger than ever. She still accepted what happened to her and still was willing to help the Grisha. 


We also have a lot of backstory on Jesper, his insecurities and family. He really comes to accept who he is. If you’ve watched the show, Voltron: Legendary Defender (which you definitely should, available on Netflix), Lance reminds me so much of Jesper. He’s a bit of a comical relief, but is still significant to the team. Wylan also gets a perspective, which I wasn’t too sure about at first, but I really came to love his character. He’s so sweet and adorable, and there’s more of an insight into his past, like how he came to join the Dregs. Also, Jesper and Wylan are too cute and fluffy and I love them. Kuwei wasn’t a major character, but he’s a clever little cinnamon roll. Really enjoyed his character as well.


I’m sure this goes for so many other people, but Inej is still and will always be my all time favorite character. I came to love even more in this book. She is so incredibly wise and intelligent for her age (I don’t believe for a minute these kids are teens) and is the strongest out of all of them. She really holds all of them together. Not only has she saved all of their lives countless times, she’s a wonderful friend. I love that if no one else, they all respect Inej. Even with all that she’s been through as a slave and rape victim, she still is stronger than ever and is still going. I could go on about how truly phenomenal her character is.


Now for Kaz Brekker, our favorite con-artist. As we all know, Brekker is a terrible and twisted person and he does some horrific things. But I still like him and not just for how complex his character is. I’ve come to hate the whole “bad boy” trope and so many of these so called “bad boys” disrespect everyone, especially women. But the thing with Kaz is that he still has some human decency inside of him. “I don’t sell girls into brothels. I don’t con helpless kids out of their money.”  He will forever be an anti-hero, but he could have turned out a lot worse. His tragic backstory is not for pity but more so to show his character development and how he accepted what happened to him as a child. 


I also loved all of the friendships throughout the series. Jesper and Inej (Inej gives the best advice), Nina and Inej is one of my favorite female friendships. Highlight for spoiler: Honestly, I ship the two. As for the romance, it clearly isn’t the main focus of the story, which I appreciate. Jesper and Wylan are probably my favorite pair. Glad the fluffy LBTQ couple had the happiest ending. Though I’m a little confused on Kaz and Inej. It seemed like they were together, but at the same it was little unclear. I really didn’t expect or want the two to end up together. I’m fine with them being partners in crime. As for Matthias’s death, after I thought about for a while, I decided his death was justified. I knew someone was going to die and Matthias was truly the one who served his purpose. I don’t mean that in a bad way. But he has his redemption and it was an honorable death, even if he didn’t die in battle. Pretty proud of the big guy.


Overall, I am in still in awe of Leigh Bardugo’s ability to create a truly entertaining, action filled, phenomenal story. Honestly, hands down one of my favorites of the year. This duology has become an instant favorite and I’ll probably end up rereading it every year. Still am not over these wonderfully complex and morally gray characters. Don’t think I’ll ever be. Honestly, I could read 5+ books on just their adventures, Jesper & Wylan shenanigans, Kaz & Inej’s vigilante adventures, Nina freeing the Grisha. This series will forever be in my heart (as cheesy as it sounds, it’s true).

Rating: 5/5

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