Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Teen
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 540
Series: #2 in the Six of Crows duology
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
First Published: September 20, 2017
First Line: "Retvenko leaned against the bar and tucked his nose into his dirty shot glass."

Book Description from GoodReadsKaz 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.

My Rating: 2 stars

My Review: I enjoyed the first book in this duology, Six of Crows.  It had action, a little romance, a big heist and some unforgettable characters with witty banter t'boot. Unfortunately, Crooked Kingdom didn't match up.  

Not even close.

Slow, Scattered Pacing and Lack of Direction
I am in the vast minority with my feelings.  So many people loved this book so I was surprised at how much I struggled to stay with it.  It has the same group of characters (who continue to have some great lines) but it was loooong with barely any plot direction and poor pacing. You'd have moments where the story plodded along and then Bardugo would throw in an amazing, tension filled scene and I'd think "OK, this is where things pick up!!" ... only for the pace to drop back down to snail level for another bout of overly descriptive telling.  This 'up and down' momentum continued for the entire book which was the exact opposite of Six of Crows with its plot and awesome suspense scenes.  

This book should have been whittled down considerably because the plot got lost in the unnecessary details.  I had to push myself to finish it. It felt scattered, with no direction, or more precisely too many directions because the plot kept jumping around to various smaller plots which, in the end, really didn't get much closure anyway!  These smaller plot ideas are barely tethered together, have rough transitions between them and Bardugo didn't give her readers enough time to be invested in any of them.

Weak Character Development
In Six of Crows we're introduced to a strong, varied cast of characters but their unique issues are lost in this book.  First, Kaz was a perpetual jerk and he had only one weakness: his relationship with Inej.  He was too good to be true since almost everything he did worked out, always keeping him a few steps ahead of his nemesis' plans.  That's hard to believe and boring to read. 

I enjoyed the tension and 'star-crossed lovers' vibe between Nina and Matthias in Six of Crows but in this book, that tension is non-existent.  Their relationship was a huge let down and one scene in particular felt like Bardugo added it merely to shock her readers and jump start their interest in her dwindling plot.

I think the characters deserved a better ending.  They were so strong and unique in the first book but the lack of character development and definitive plot in Crooked Kingdom killed this book for me.  This book can be summed up in the following words: underwhelming, scattered, unresolved.

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