Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing: Henry Holt (Macmillan)
Released: September 27, 2016
GoodReads Page
Synopsis (Taken from GoodReads):

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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.

 

Reader, if you were to go on GoodReads or Amazon or any site with reviews, you’d probably find something similar to mine, for I have jumped on the bandwagon.

I usually find my views of popular books challenged (someone didn’t like it, thus I evaluate how I feel on the points they brought up) but not so much with Crooked Kingdom.

Overarchingly, the consensus is that Crooked Kingdom is great and I agree.


Like most, I read the Grisha Trilogy before I read Six of Crows. There were bits and pieces from the original trilogy that I enjoyed but overall I found it underwhelming.

Crooked Kingdom took everything I loved about Six of Crows and the parts of the original Grisha Trilogy I liked and put them together.

I can’t go into the specifics of it without being spoilery but some things I did enjoy were the Grisha (I was interested in that aspect of it) and some characters that just made everything better.

Not to mention I already loved the Six of Crows characters and really have a hard time understanding why anyone wouldn’t. To this day, I haven’t found an argument I deem solid, against the lovableness of those characters.


The Characters

I believe there was a time when Bardugo stated that she wished to make Six of Crows different, a story about people not amongst kings and queens and promised ones, and I’m blown away by how well she did that.

These characters, especially our love, Kaz, can all be deemed as morally gray and questionable which I adore. There’s been a lot of talk of gray characters and honestly, I think this is the best example anyone could find of some.

These characters manage to make some seriously questionable choices, while not being too over the edge, and we still love them dearly and wish to protect them at all costs.

For a moment, I’d love to talk about Kaz as well because my son is the most questionable of all of them. He is the most morally gray, the worst of them all, the most questionable and yet I still found myself loving him?

Especially in Crooked Kingdom, there were moments in which I sat thinking “what the fuck is up with this kid, he needs some serious help” and at the same time “protect him at all costs, my son, my love” just oo-ing over how amazing he is.

But then again, Kaz also had some of the most redeemable qualities such as saving characters that others didn’t see the value in (which I elaborate more on below).

Inej, my darling child. Would I want to be her? No, not really, her life was rather shitty but in Crooked Kingdom, the girl just showed such spunk and courage and strength. She showed growth from Six of Crows to Crooked Kingdom, in small ways, but it was still there.

She also showed amazing kindness and empathy throughout the book. Of course she’s very devoted to Kaz and the Dregs but she manages to keep herself in all of that which is a feat in and of itself.

Wylan could slowly be seen descending into some sort of criminal madness throughout the book, but look at who he was hanging out with? Honestly, it was awesome watching him go from this timid boy to this confident (and questionable) man.

Jesper could also be seen growing, forced to confront aspects of his life that he’d refused to before. I think that this seriously contributed to his growth as a character and ended up seriously enhancing the plot for the better. It was amazing to see how his personal, professional, and even romantic challenges required and caused him to grow.

I was always fond of Nina because of her attitude and actions. She befriended Inej right away and I adore that these girls never butted heads. They were just pure and simple, loyal friends from Book 1 to Book 2 and honestly, it was thrilling.

She’s loud and proud about her country and abilities but throughout the story she also recognizes the bad of her country and abilities, in regards to how they could have or did harm others. It takes a certain type of strength to truly acknowledge that the things you love are flawed and Ninaa has that strength.

Matthias was the only one I always had a hard time with but of all the characters I think he showed the most growth. He is forced to work with people he hates, he starts out as single minded and obviously becomes more accepting. He grows to have a certain respect for the people he’s around and what they’ve been through.

Also, He’s basically just one big, angry flower, so that’s fun to think about.


The World

The world of Ketterdam is as morally gray and questionable as our protagonists and I cannot believe how well done that was. Okay, well, I can, Leigh Bardugo is officially queen of everything that has to do with writing but I’m still blown away.

Some rainy, dreery, small island between all these large landmasses, run by businessmen, all smelling of chaos and crime. A perfectly distastorous setting for our criminal protagonists!

It merely goes to highlight the crude world they live in and how they’ve all turned out in response to it. A city that truly tries to implement survival of the fittest.

I also believe that this city highlights some of the better qualities of Kaz in that survival regard. He took people the city tried to discard of and helped turn them into people the city would learn to fear and I think that’s beautiful.


The Story

I said it above but I’ll repeat that I think this is a well crafted and beautiful story with a whole lot going on both on the surface and underneath.

On the surface we all have the lovable but concering main characters who pull off amazingly complicated heists and lowkey all love and respect each other on some level. We have some cute romances going on that make you want to scream and shove your head through a wall and scream some more.

Throughout that there’s just more and I’ll try to explain it but I’m terrible at putting things like this into words.

This book had some seriously damaged characters all of who had to take uniquely different routes to try and recover from what had happened to them. Sometimes the route wasn’t the best and/or they just had to deal with the situation handed to them and from their they recognized a problem and grew from it. It was amazing reading about all of them because people don’t handle problems all the same and to see how well they grew from who they started out as.

That was a mass generalization and jumble, but hopefully it made sense?

I’m still blown away by how ruthless that city and its inhibitants were yet here you had these kind of vigilantes, not in the typical sense, working for their own benefit but also helping others on the way (even if it wasn’t obvious).

The story was so rich with layers of gray, layers of both good and evil, alternating until it made it clear that humans are complex and can’t just be sorted into one category.

Bardugo has this great understanding and she has my vote for Leader of the Galaxy.


 

This story was just a storm of amazingness that I’m still trying to comprehend and if you need me I’ll be continuing to tell people how amazing these books are and reciting why they should read them.

Overall I give this book 5 Stars without hesitation or regret.

Have you read it? How did you feel about?

Check back next Saturday for another review!

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