by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: Amazon, iBooks,
Add to: 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.
One day later, I still can’t believe that I didn’t love this. I still can’t believe that I’ve waited a year, seen all my friends adoring it, and ended disappointed and alone in my shameful corner. I still can’t believe that I almost wish I didn’t read it, because I can’t forget that while I did like it, Crooked Kingdom :
Yep, that’s Kaz. Hear me out : it’s no secret that I have a soft spot for cunning and ruthless thieves who may or may not be hiding their vulnerabilities. As much as I do realize that it’s a complete cliché, I strive for it, okay?! Hence my intense fangirling about Kaz in the first book. I LOVED HIM. In the first part here? He was GLORIOUS. Sadly, I fell out of love as I grew fed up of his ability to outsmart ANYONE. The guy’s a Gary Stu, okay? A ruthless, cunning, unapologetic one, but a Gary Stu all the same. When does he freaking FAIL? Why is he the only one who doesn’t have to fight against his demons? More than 3 pages, I MEAN? Nope. I don’t believe for one second that the “growth” he showed in Crooked Kingdom was handled smoothly. It wasn’t. Perhaps I felt that way because he was BARELY THERE? Or because most of his interactions consisted of orders like the commander in chief he is? I won’t lie, some of his repartee made me really happy (because I’m a psycho), but I can’t brush away the feeling that he was the shell of himself. As far as I’m concerned, Kaz was present, but not alive. Hate me now.
I know that many readers loved her, and I’m glad for you, I really am, but for me she was transparent. That’s why I didn’t care for her relationship with Kaz either. Boo.
– Can we have such things as too fast-paced novels?
– Yes, I think we can.
(don’t mind me, I answer my own questions – sorry it’s a teacher thing, oops)
You’re free to disagree with me. Take Fitz for example : a non negligible number of readers would find his stories boring and I can definitely see why. Yet I’m never bored because the slow pacing contributes to multiply my feelings exponentially when something shocking happens. Crooked Kingdom, in another hand, flourishes in never-ending action and for most readers, it means the destruction of all boredom – I can also see why. Yet for me, a story that is too fast-paced, where action never stops, fails to reach that upper level when it comes to my FEELINGS. Perhaps I don’t like heists as much as I thought I did. Perhaps it was the multiplication of cons that did it. Perhaps the novelty ran out, in that aspect. Perhaps I didn’t care about Van Eck’s fate as much as I should have. I do think that my reaction (*cough* underwhelmed *cough*) had something to do with the way the villains were handled : I’m sorry, but I don’t know them. For me to feel engrossed, I needed something more than a one-dimensional, twisting moustache villain I barely interacted with. Sue me.
THIS IS A REAL SPOILER. DON’T READ BEFORE FINISHING. OBVIOUSLY.
[ Can we talk about how anticlimactic Matthias’s death was? No, really. Can we. Some of my favorite series ever pictured my favorite characters being killed off, so the death itself I can handle. I swear. After a lot of sobbing, I can. Here, though? I can’t even fathom what the fuck happened. I can’t accept the way it happened, and that sickly bad taste I got in my mouth because I couldn’t help but think that Matthias was treated as EXPENDABLE. As an easy risk, for the sake of the epic-drama feast. (hide spoiler)]View Spoiler »Can we talk about how anticlimactic Matthias’s death was? No, really. Can we. Some of my favorite series ever pictured my favorite characters being killed off, so the death itself I can handle. I swear. After a lot of sobbing, I can. Here, though? I can’t even fathom what the fuck happened. I can’t accept the way it happened, and that sickly bad taste I got in my mouth because I couldn’t help but think that Matthias was treated as EXPENDABLE. As an easy risk, for the sake of the epic-drama feast. « Hide Spoiler
YET. I wouldn’t have rated Crooked Kingdom a three if there weren’t slices of AWESOMENESS to balance what I didn’t like :
His chapters were, shockingly, part of my favorites. There’s just something so interesting in following the sidekick, okay? Also, he’s adorable and a red-head. It counts. As for Jesper, he was more fleshed-out and the added complexity made for one of the best character development, as far as I’m concerned. His flaws and fears felt so real to me. THEIR RELATIONSHIP BROUGHT ME LIFE.
I loved her spirit, her wit, her strength, her doubts, her fight against withdrawal – everything. AND SHE RAISED THE DEAD. HOW AWESOME IS THAT.
“Matthias smiled broadly and boomed in a singsong voice, “Hello, little friend!”
The woman went from wary to baffled. Nina decided to call it an improvement.”
HOW CAN I NOT LOVE THEM??
Now, I wouldn’t take my word on it if I were you, given that everyone on earth loved it. I can’t even say that I’m in the minority, because for that a minority would have to EXIST? I don’t know? AM I ALONE? And it didn’t influence my rating, but I will never understand why this book is YA. In which world are these characters teenagers?! (in the Grisha’s world, I know, smartass) Trying to picture Kaz or Nina or MATTHIAS as 17s years old makes my head ache.