I know that lots of you will probably disagree with me. I am in no way saying it's crucial to read the Grisha trilogy first, BUT I truly believe it enhances the experience of reading this book immensely.
The world building makes so much more sense if you go in with the previous groundwork laid in Bardugo's first series. I did not love the Grisha trilogy, but the presence of some neat world building elements combined with Bardugo's writing style are enough to make that series readable.
There are a handful of satisfying throwbacks, some mentions of previous characters, and an understanding of the Grisha-verse that you will miss if you choose to read Six of Crows first. Consider my official advice given.
I think the real mastery of this book is in how it is told. We get an alternating third person perspective from the members of a gang called The Dregs. In each chapter, we switch between flashbacks of each character's past and the present situation, which happens to be completing one of the biggest, most dangerous heist jobs of their lives.
For me the flashbacks were almost more enjoyable than the heist story. Both were intriguing, but I love how Bardugo took the opportunity to slowly introduce us to her crew. She masterfully weaves their stories together, expanding their characters and explaining how they came to be part of The Dregs.
Each character felt real, which is vital for making my reading experience enjoyable.
I just really really really really really REALLY wish these characters were not 16-18 years old. It really takes away from the plausibility of all they accomplish in this story.
I know, I know "Mary, it's YA!!" well... maybe it shouldn't be?
It's not that I don't think young people deserve compelling, fantastic narratives... they do. But the only way I was able to take this seriously was to pretend The Dregs were in their mid to late twenties.
I also wish that there was just a smidgen less emphasis on what I'll call "lovey dovey" thoughts. There's always this... way that romance is approached in YA novels. It throws me off every single time. The development of intimate feelings lacks subtlety, and it nearly always affects how seriously I can take the characters.
I was just a little distracted in this novel by characters dwelling on their feelings for other characters where I think it would've been more appropriate for them to be feeling just about anything else.
But there's a lot to love about Six of Crows! It's got a great premise, and I really enjoy the world that's been created here. Coming back to this after reading the Grisha series, I could feel how much Bardugo has improved as a writer and storyteller.
There's an excellent balance between past and present, and between character interactions. I enjoyed everyone individually, and I wholeheartedly went on this journey with The Dregs. I'm excited to pick up Crooked Kingdom and see what's in store for these rotten little miscreants!