Some people develop stories that hold exquisite world building and intricate plots within its pages but their characters leave a sour taste in the mouth: slightly two dimensional, generic and un-relatable. Others create characters that practically jump out at you, real people fashioned into existence through words, yet the plot, the world building? Not necessarily raw, but perhaps under cooked. Leigh Bardugo however, does neither of those two things. She is one of the few authors that is able to develop both three-dimensional characters with all the entertaining dialogue, nuances and traits you could wish for, and a detailed plot within an intricately built world: CROOKED KINGDOM is but one of the perfect examples.
After reading SIX OF CROWS last year and proclaiming it one of my favourite reads ever (high praise indeed considering I have become increasingly picky about the books I read after slowly falling out of love with YA – Leigh Bardugo makes me realise why I loved YA by the way) I had to wait a painfully long time for the second instalment of this duology (a fact which I both hate (because I need more of these characters in my life) and love (because YA is too oversaturated with trilogies that don’t need to be trilogies – I respect Bardugo’s decision to make this a duology and actually create two stories that are both stunning in their own right without stretching them out unnecessarily long into more books than is needed) (although again, in this case, I want more) but then, oh frabjous day, it arrived, I read it, and as expected, I loved it.
JUST A FEW THINGS I LOVED ABOUT CROOKED KINGDOM:
- · THE DIALOGUE IS FANTASTIC. It’s probably one of my favourite things about the book, although to be fair in this case, everything is a favourite. But oh heck, I do love good dialogue. It’s what I enjoy most about my own writing and I sure as heck love reading it too. IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
- · THE CHARACTERS: ANOTHER FAVOURITE, again, another thing I love to develop in my own (admittedly awful) writing but oh, one of the few books where I love everyone. Not in the sense that I want to hug them all, in the sense that they are all so wonderfully rounded, they all have their own little details, their own quirks, they’re so wonderfully beautiful and broken and flawed and human. Also I love Kaz Brekker. (and Inej – if there’s ever a film/TV adaption of this duology which there really really should be (as long as it’s done well) then I want to play Inej. Just putting it out there. I mean she’d have to morph into a hijab wearing Muslim but hey, only a slight change…), (and Jesper), (and Wylan), (and Nina), (and Matthias).
- · THE PLOT IS STUNNING (sense a theme here?). See, I am a self-confessed awful plotter. I can’t plot. I mean, I could. But my imagination wears thin after a while and it usually ends up being a plot with as many holes as there would be if Ron took up knitting or something. But Bardugo’s plots. Oh heck. They’re so clever. They make me want to plot a book or two. They’re so darn cool. Just imagine reading a book where there are twists you don’t even think about because there shouldn’t be a twist, because you never even thought about it. Just imagine reading a scene and then Kaz pulls something out of the bag again and you’re sat there smiling and shaking your head like, darn, that Kaz Brekker is something else – his brain is just top notch; and then you realise that yes, Kaz Brekker is ingenious and cunning but he’s also (sadly) not real and in actual fact the clever one is Leigh Bardugo and then you’re sat there (still with this huge grin on your face) like teach me your ways please.
- · MORE WAFFLES: I don’t think anyone got enough waffles in this book – I mean, they all deserved them.
- · MORE CLOSURE? I mean, if this book is the last one with no more little novellas or anything at all then I personally would have liked more closure. There definitely was a feeling of things ‘ending’ but I think when you become so invested in the characters but have such little time to fully grasp hold of them and look them in the eye and understand and appreciate them and their relationships with others because of everything that’s going on then I would have liked a more ‘solid’ ending. But then again leaving a more ‘open-ended’ book allows the reader’s own imagination to run wild. Although in some cases that just hurts your heart way too much (if you’ve read ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell then you’ll know what I mean, if you haven’t read it then read it.)
A FEW MORE THINGS I LOVED: (you can never go wrong with a bit more praise and love for someone’s hard work right?)
- THE INCLUSION OF MORE GRISHA-Y TYPE THINGS (that is all, not giving anything away).
- KAZ BREKKER (WITH HIS GUARD DOWN) (well, not really. He’d never let his guard down, but it was nice to see a different side to Kaz other than the harder outer shell you almost always see in Six of Crows.
- MATTHIAS: I wasn’t too sure about where I stood with Matthias in the first book, I decided I liked him in the second. Not as much as all the others, but he’s a good guy that Matthias is, a good guy…
- NINA aka sass city.
- THE WRAITH: just to reiterate: I want to play Inej if it’s ever going to the big screen, okay?
- WYLAN: definitely less ‘wimpy’ (for lack of a better word), much bolder. I like it.
- JESPER: he’s up there with Nina on the ‘sass scale’ really.
- ALL THE TWISTS AND TURNS: some of those plot revelations though *cackles*.
This book is about a gang of beautiful, broken humans doing desperate things to keep alive and create a future for themselves, it’s about friendship and waffles and clever plans, it involves the high wire, some sharp shooting, a few (a lot of) dead people and a fair amount of fights and brawls – and if that doesn’t whet your appetite then I don’t know what will.
*a thousand thanks to nina who sent me this (free) book in exchange for an honest review. you're super cool.