Title: Crooked Kingdoms (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pub. Date: Sept. 27, 2016
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting.”
Let's all bow down to Leigh Bardugo because she truly outdid herself with Crooked Kingdom. There are very few authors that could write such an amazing, meticulous story such as this, and seriously it's a mind-blowing experience to be able to see a book so beautifully written. While I did have some ups and downs with the book (literally this makes up less than 2% of my feelings with this book), overall (aka the other 98%) this novel is truly extraordinary and I wish there were more to come. I honestly don't want to say goodbye to these characters yet, but it's better this way...at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself. It's better that this amazing series is only 2 books so that we can be left to imagine the future adventures our beloved characters are having.
“Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us?What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”
Let's start with the teeny tiny thing that bothered me with this book: the pace. There were times at the beginning of the novel that felt super slow to me. I didn't have this problem in the first book, but I noticed it a lot in this one. I don't know if I just was too excited to find out what was going to happen next or if I just was in a mood the day I started this, but when I first started reading, I felt the pace was entirely different. There were parts that kinda seemed unnecessary to me and there were times where the scenes seemed to go on for a bit too long. However, after the first part/part and a half, this resolved and the story really took off. That's why I can't complain too much about this because it really only was a small part of the book. Otherwise, after this slow start, the story really was nonstop action and chaos. I never knew what was going to happen, and Leigh definitely kept me on my toes! There were so many twists and turns that it left my head spinning. With every heist or new trial the group undertakes, your adrenaline skyrockets, and you feel you are right there with these characters risking your own life.
“And that was what destroyed you in the end: the longing for something you could never have.”
One of the best parts of this book though is the character development. The reason I said that not many authors could write a book such as Crooked Kingdoms is because not many authors could balance 6 different character POVs, each with an intricate backstory, and make them sound like individual characters. Heck there's authors that can't even do dual POV (and I'm not trying to offend anyone when I say that because in my opinion dual POV is an extremely difficult task to undertake and I give major credit to authors that can write it successfully)! But Leigh does an absolute brilliant job at making sure every character is heard and we as readers feel connected to every single one of those characters. We get so much more into these characters that were introduced in Six of Crows, and things are revealed that you will never see coming. And if it's possible, Leigh makes the connections that we have with the characters (as well as the connection between the characters themselves) stronger and deeper. Emotions are definitely at an all-time high in this book when any of these characters are involved, and I loved every single second of it.
“We meet fear. We greet the unexpected visitor and listen to what he has to tell us. When fear arrives something is about to happen.”
I will say that at first Kaz seemed a bit too disconnected to me, but over the course of the book we come to see more and more inside his mind and understand prior actions while also keeping us guessing for what he's cooking up next. Inej is still one of my favorite characters in the story. She's so strong and brave, and I loved her tenacity. There were times I was truly terrified for her because it takes a lot to break a character such as Inej, and she was slowly crumbling around the edges during the first part of this book. Nina is like my soul sister, but we definitely see a different side to her due to her withdrawal from that terrible drug. It makes her question everything, including using her own powers. However, I also loved how fierce she was in this book. Nina stuck to her guns and didn't let anyone tell her she couldn't do something. Matthias perhaps has the greatest transformation of all the characters, and seriously I can't even begin to explain my love for him while I was reading this book....after all, he's greater than waffles ;) I really did like the addition of Wylan's POV to the story as well because it added yet another raw, realistic element to the plot that propelled the novel forward.
“Why do you guys say that, anyway? No mourners, no funerals? Why not just say good luck or be safe?”“We like to keep our expectations low.”
There are many aspects of this part that made my heart break, but there was one in particular that involved a certain character's death that absolutely broke me. I didn't see it coming and I'm still not over the character's death, but I will say that it fit with the story and that's why I can't totally be upset at Leigh for killing them. Let's face it, the Dregs and Ketterdam is an unforgiving place and not everyone makes it out alive. This is a sad, but true fact. I think we should just count ourselves lucky that Leigh didn't kill off more people haha!
“They don't know who we are. Not really. They don't know what we've done, what we've managed together. So let's go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.”
Everything about this book is perfection, and I can't even begin to emphasize how much you need to read this book. Leigh does an excellent job at writing an evocative story that sweeps you away and leaves you longing for more. The conclusion of this book is every bit as epic as you imagine it would be, and I will not be forgetting this book anytime soon. The Six of Crows duology is going to be a series that I read over and over again, and it's definitely something you don't want to miss out on!
Happy reading :)