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.
Review: 4.4/5 stars (Warning: This review, like the book itself, is very long for some reason.)
Do you ever wish there were more of a three-dimensional scale for book rating? Like how political preference charts are increasingly not just liberal/conservative, but left/right/authoritarian/libertarian. Or they chart whether you’re economically liberal or conservative and socially liberal or conservative.
Basically what I’m saying is my five-star ratings are pretty eclectic. I want a system with a bajillion facets: is the writing beautiful? Do I want to befriend the characters? Are they realistic? Is it fun? Is it impactful? Will it stay with me? But that’s tiresome for you and me, so I’m just giving this book one of my weirdly specific ratings.
I realized in the midst of my reading of this that I didn’t want it to end. I’m going to miss these characters. Well, I’m going to miss Kaz and Inej and Jesper. (More on that later.) But don’t misinterpret that sentiment as me saying, I wish there were more books in this series. Because I super don’t. I applaud Leigh Bardugo for presumably staring down those publishers and telling them no, this is a duology, and I’m not going to write more books just for you to make money. That’s amazing. Too many authors these days write insanely humongo series for dolladolladolla signs. (I won’t name names because too many of you love her. Oh. Whoops. There’s a clue, I guess.) That’s the number one way to ensure I’ll get tired of even my most beloved characters. Take the Maximum Ride series. I loved binge reading the first chunk of those books in middle school, but now I’m like, holy shit, there are nine books? I don’t love anyone that much, let alone a fifteen year old girl with wings and ~natural highlights~. But I digress.
Back to my lovely trio. As many of you may know, I goddamn hate the dickhead male character with a dark past trope. I know some of you are into the handsome, tortured pieces of shit (cough, Will Herondale, cough) and hey, more power to you. I get the appeal. But for me, their backstories are rarely enough justification for their treating their pretty, nice love interests like sacks of garbage. Kaz Brekker is one hell of an exception. He’s an asshole to survive. And even though he can’t be with the girl he likes (and I mean actually can’t, not some flimsy, teary reason), he isn’t more of a dick to her than he is to anyone else. In fact, he’s kinda less mean to her. And doesn’t that make more sense?!
I will say it’s a little strange that in a crew of six, there were three perfect, destined-by-fate couples, no? But that’s really YA literature for you. I can’t say I like it, but it seems a trope that’s here to stay. It was very The Lunar Chronicles, and I adore that series, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.
Continuing in my character rant (very characteristic for me!), let’s talk Kuwei. He’s super flat, right? It’s not just me? Like, he has one scene where it seems like maybe he has feelings and that’s it. We hear from him, like, twice in the whole book. The rest of the characters in this book are so round and distinctive that a six-person changing perspective isn’t confusing! We couldn’t give the captive a trait or two? Come on.
I will say that Wylan, Matthias and Nina just didn’t really do it for me. I know Nina is a lot of people’s favorite character, but to me she didn’t seem really feisty, and like half of her dialogue and inner monologue was about food. Which gets old. Wylan was not the worst of the three, just kinda boring, and Matthias said maybe 3 words in 500 pages.
For most of the book, I was debating my rating. This was mostly fun to read, but the writing wasn’t the best (better than a lot of YA stuff, but still). And I was torn on the characters. But Inej and Kaz make me happy, and I did have a point where I smiled a little. That’s very rare for me. My face usually remains the same when I’m reading, whether I’m enjoying the story or not. It looks kinda like this:
God, that was long. Sorry folks.
Bottom line: This book wasn’t perfect, but few are. I may not have fallen in love with it, but I do recommend it highly.