A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet.
Have you ever read something so high-concept, with such great characters, that you knew it was going to be a 10/10 would recommend within the first seventy pages?
That's where I am with this book.
The first thing you should know is that I am a believer that any book with a map in the beginning is going to be a good one. This book has not only one, but two maps, AND a hierarchy chart. That's like, triple the goodness.
Then you get to the plot, and you know you're in it for the long haul.
A crime ring within a crime ring, ready to set out on a mission that they most likely won't return from, in a world where there's dark magic at play? Sign me the heck up.
Literally everything I love is in this book.
1.) Character depth (You've got a rag-tag group of six misfits, all with different, complex stories that weave into who they are). I've got to steal this bit from the front jacket of the book because the character descriptions are just too good:
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.
Throw them together, and what could possibly go wrong?
One of the things I love about this book is that you forget that they're all teenagers. In YA Fantasy, there's been few books for me where you actually forget their age, except for moments when you're jarred back to the reality of the world.
In this book, they all feel older than they are. They've all seen so much life, have been through so much, their characterization leads you to believe that they're all in their late twenties, at least for me. Their stories give so much more depth to both the world and the characters and I love that they work together that way, and do it seamlessly.
I'll give you the example of Kaz. Kaz is seventeen, and you don't find that out until you're about eighty pages in. When I first read about Kaz, I immediately thought he was at least twenty-five, maybe even thirty. He doesn't read like a teenager. Even when I found out he was only seventeen, I was like "there is no way this guy is only seventeen." His attitude, abilities, wisdom, and the darkness around him just feels older.
2.) Sass. If a book doesn't have good sass, then what's the point really?
"You guys are going to make this really fun, aren't you? Usually people don't start hating each other until a week into the job, but you two have a head start."
In a story like this you need that attitude as comic relief, but it needs to be natural, too. So every character's natural sass needs to stem out from who they are, and Leah Bardugo does an incredible job of this.
3.) Backstory that's just bursting to be set free. Especially between two of the characters... but this is a nearly-spoiler free zone. SO READ THE BOOK *insert evil laugh here*
I also loves that she uses their journey as time to develop backstory instead of overwhelming the plot with violence and action. It's a nice break, and a better way to get to know the characters, instead of it all being in the beginning.
Also the slow burn romance between two of them? And the history between two of the other characters? Plus all of the mystery that all of them are wrapped up in? This is what I'm here for, folks.
4.) The world is so well built, I was actually like a little kid writing this review. I just had to take a pause to calm myself from fan-girling all over the place.
In short, READ THE BOOK.
(because of violence, but that's really the only reason)