A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

Six of Crows: The Story of a Found Family of Felons

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Zoe Quijote

Although published eight years ago, Leigh Bardugo’s wonderfully vicious Six of Crows duology still stands as a prominent contribution to young adult heist literature.

The first novel introduces criminal mastermind Kaz Brekker and his crew of outcasts, including a disowned heir named Wylan Van Eck, and Nina Zenik, a girl who can literally stop hearts. They’re given the chance to become some of the richest people in the world – if they successfully break into a fortress to rescue a prisoner who holds the secret to creating a dangerous drug. This drug, called jurda parem, is known to drastically enhance the power of the Grisha, people with magical abilities, while also slowly killing them whether they take in more or not. However, the Crows know they aren’t the only gang vying for both the money and the narcotic, and they have to face the consequences awaiting them back home. During the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, the group returns to their city to bring justice to their enemies once and for all, while having to overcome their inner demons. We get to delve into more fast-paced fights, while also visiting more intimate moments between the protagonists (rated PG-13, of course).

Perhaps the most striking quality of Bardugo’s writing is her ability to make a diverse cast of characters come alive. Each has their own completely unique backstory, personality, and purpose. All of them are equally loved, but Inej Ghafa is among the most popular ones. Besides being super cool because of her knives and acrobatics, she is also known for her pure heart. Though she experiences unimaginable things at the hands of people drunk with greed, she still believes that there is good in the world.  Even in Kaz, who’s recognized as the deadliest boy in the city. Her relationship with Kaz is moving and beautifully written, and will redefine your expectations of love. This is a key subplot filled with tension, and will certainly get you invested into the book. And while Jesper Fahey might only seem like attractive comic relief to the passing reader, he is an integral part of the Crows because of his sharpshooting skills and loyalty to his friends. He keeps the Crows’ spirits high, even when he doesn’t feel worthy himself. Many fans find Jesper very relatable for this. 

To add on, a major theme in this story is identity. Inej and Kaz are both “reborn” after a past traumatic event. They left their young, ignorant selves behind and are now forced to commit crimes in order to survive. It’s tragic to see how these characters, who are still teenagers, are monsters in everyone else’s eyes. In addition, the cultures displayed in Six of Crows are a huge part of the characters’ development arcs. Matthias Helvar, for example, is trained by his people to wipe out the Grisha, no matter how innocent they are. This is the reason he goes through so much inner conflict when he catches feelings for one. While reading the books, you get to follow Matthias as he unlearns the hatred he grew up on. This subplot adds a huge layer of depth to the main storyline because it continues the idea of becoming your own person.

On the outside, this duology may seem like just another angsty, gothy young adult read. And it is exactly that, and so much more. The beauty of both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom is that they will send you squealing with delight in one page, then sobbing uncontrollably in the next. Once you look up from the last page, you’ll return to the modern world with six new morally gray friends. These books are definitely ones you’ll want to read (and reread) if you’re looking for a dark yet heartfelt fantasy with lots of action. 

 

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