CROOKED KINGDOM (Six of Crows #2) - by Leigh Bardugo

CROOKED KINGDOM - Leigh Bardugo.
Year Published: 2016 - by Orion Children's Books.
Pages: 536.
Genres: Young adult / epic fantasy / romance
Source: Library.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off the most daring heist imaginable. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, they're low on resources, allies and hope. While a war rages on the city's streets, the team's fragile loyalties are stretched to breaking point. Kaz and his crew will have to make sure they're on the winning side... no matter what the cost.




I buddy-read this book with the wonderful Di @ Book Reviews By Di. We loved Six of Crows so much that we couldn't resist grabbing up Crooked Kingdom literally as soon as we finished SOC, and although we didn't love it as much as the first book, it was still fantastic. We had such an awesome time chatting about these two books, and definitely plan to read more Bardugo in the future!
Check out Di's review HERE.


THE LAST PARAGRAPH IS SPOILER-FILLED. 
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.


Crooked Kingdom picks up right where SOC left off, and I was immediately swept into the action and emotion.
The writing's as mind-blowing as SOC, and the story is perfectly paced, brilliantly plotted, and wickedly elusive. The twists are relentless, and I frequently underestimated the characters and the story. Bardugo's skill is unmatched.  
The climax is especially terrific, and the foreshadowing throughout the story was expertly placed and intelligent. All I can say is wow wow wow.
There are plenty of heart-stopping, explosive scenes, but there are also plenty of quieter ones; they strike a beautiful balance, and I was never once bored.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting.”

The characters are even more fantastic than they were in SOC. My favourites are Kaz, Inej, and Nina, but they're all terrific: I want to hug Inej and Wylan and tell them they're loved, flirt with Matthias to see him blush, joke with Jesper in a life or death situation, be best friends with Nina, and fight alongside Kaz. I love their different relationships with each other and how no one's a small character. And how through them, Bardugo has given fantasy an incredibly important and much-needed diversity. It's almost inevitable that you'll find someone to connect with or relate to.
Their back stories are also enlarged on, and I loved seeing more of their pasts come to light. They all grew, made mistakes, learnt from those mistakes, and it was amazing.
Third person point of view works perfectly. Each character's voice comes through effortlessly, and Bardugo handles her huge cast flawlessly.

There's a lot more romance in CK than there was in SOC. Oh but it's beautiful. The slow-burn of Kaz and Inej's attraction contrasted with the passionate, lovable adoration of Matthias and Nina make for two equally gorgeous relationships, and the romance never once distracts from the story; it's simple, realistic, and completely natural.

Bardugo also handled two rather deep and controversial issues through the experiences of two of her characters: namely, drugs and gambling.  I thought it was both courageously and tenderly done, and also had a strong punch of realism.

“Meeting you was a disaster....But I am grateful for that disaster. I needed a catastrophe to shake me from the life I knew. You were an earthquake, a landslide.........You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

But, unlike SOC, it wasn't perfect: hence the 4 flowers. And it seriously breaks my heart.

The ending was the issue. Although on the plus side, I thought the moments with Kaz and Inej were beautiful, and I loved that he gave her a ship, she got to see her parents, and there was the promise of a relationship between her and Kaz.
But DARN IT. I didn't like the wrap-up/resolution. I thought it was rushed, anticlimactic, and a huge disappointment. Considering the tragic death of Matthias (yes, I sobbed) I wanted more of a tribute to him. Instead, the story glossed over that and sped towards an infuriatingly dry finish that left me feeling cheated. But my biggest pet peeve lay with the unresolved conflict between Inej and Van Eck. She told him earlier in the book that he'd see her again and throughout the book both she and Kaz mentioned hurting him and getting their revenge for what he did to her. But come the end, nothing happened! Yes he was booted off to jail, but the author being Bardugo and what I'd come to expect from the series, I wanted a confrontation or at least a last twist. And yet there was nothing. And if it hadn't been for that, I would've rated the book 5 flowers.


Crooked Kingdom is masterfully written, insanely gripping, and led by a crew of characters who simply leap off the pages. But I was hugely disappointed with the ending, and I'm still angry at how a certain aspect was left unresolved.