Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Even though I really liked this book (4/5 stars), I’m going to go ahead and air on the side of harsh in this review because this is one of those books that is really popular that no one who knows anything about writing ever reviews. Like most other teen fiction books, it gets a lot of hype for a reason that no one can place their finger on.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the characters. Usually, in teen fiction it’s the characters that suck. What I appreciated was the backstory, leading up to present lives that made sense. It also wasn’t excessive; in fact, no backstory was shared unless it was neccesary. I also liked that there weren’t too many characters to keep track of. Warning: the first chapter is a bunch of nonsense and totally threw me off.
I liked the pace of the plot, it made sense and was easy to follow; it also strung me along on the edge of my seat, wanting to know more answers, even from the beginning. Very clever story telling.
Leigh Bardugo is VERY skilled at knowing her audience. No matter how many times you argue with me on this point, this book was written for teen girls. Yes, I know it’s about a dirty gang and 4/6 characters are young men. But that’s the draw, you see. If you wish to differ, change the characters to 6/6 as boys. Then you’ll see what I mean. With Bardugo’s audience in mind, she skillfully draws in the teens….and drives away everyone else. So I’m both congratulating and wagging my finger at this author, because when you write for teens you can get away with a lot that you normally can’t because your readers still eat it up. How can you argue with that?
One of the biggest things that bothered me was some of the decisions that the characters made. Even though Kaz was supposed to be like a genius, he agrees with some really weird stuff. Like almost total nonsense that form gigantic holes in the plot. I peer down into the void and wonder what could have filled it. And then it hits me: nothing could have filled it, that’s why it’s there. So it’s the authors fault for not editing out scenes that don’t make sense, and she hopes you will overlook the holes so she can fulfill your need for those all-important awkard moments of romantic tension.
Example (and yes, I made this up so I don’t spoil the book):
Kaz: “Alright, let’s leave Matthias and Inej to guard this door.”
Inej: “Wait, you can’t leave me here! I’m the only person who knows that the blue lock picks fit into the pink doors!”
Kaz: “Fine, we’ll leave Nina here with Matthias so they can solve the problems of the universe together.”
Yep. Something like that actually happened. The author resorts to weird cliches, like comparing Nina’s eyes with green fire. HOLY COW! GREEN FIRE!? Does that mean something? Should I be afraid? Last time I checked, fire wasn’t green. Actual description lost, and I don’t think Bardugo meant that her eyes have gone up in acidic flame.
And another thing: somewhere in the middle of the heist, the author got so caught up with the action of it, she forgot what they were actually stealing. I actually got confused as to whether they were still trying to get in, or trying to get out.
This book is definitely for 13+ because of content. Sometimes pretty gruesome, a decent amount of moderate swearing. One of the main characters comes from being a slave in a brothel and suffers a lot of mental trauma. Not really any particular circumstances are given, but there are a number of references throughout the book that can’t really just be glossed over.