I will also provide a review, but it will be shorter; no pros or cons this time!
Summary: Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist: Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached), retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world), and survive long enough to collect his reward (and spend it) Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
- Would you like to visit Ketterdam, even for one day?
My answer: Yes, but only for one day, not night. Way too dangerous! As much as I liked reading this book, I wouldn’t like to be involved in one of the plots.
Icebreaker’s answer: Yes! But I don’t want to go near the Barrel. Like Kate said, it can be pretty dangerous. (And we all know that Kaz is skilled at pickpocketing.) I’d mainly go to see the sites and try all sorts of foods.
2. This book dealt with topics like disabilities. This includes physical problems (like Kaz’s leg) and mental problems (like PTSD, phobias, and even stuff like dyslexia). Which was the one you felt was most interestingly handled?
My answer:Personally, I liked how phobias were handled. I did a research paper on anxiety and phobias earlier this year, and thought this rang true way more than in contemporaries. It felt really well researched and even relatable.
Icebreaker’s answer: Like Kate also said, I was interested in the phobias. I don’t know a whole ton about them, but it’s always interesting to read how someone develops them, and how they try to handle it.
3. This book was as character driven as it was plot driven. It also focused on relationships a lot, whether they be romantic or friendly. Which one was the most memorable to you?
My answer: While they were all memorable, one was Kaz and Inej. Their feelings towards each other were very subtle, which I liked, but was also really clear, without expressly saying how they felt. As a writer, that relationship definitely stood out, as it had way more showing than telling, and managed to be an effective one. But another relationship that stood out was Inej and Nina’s friendship. Don’t get me wrong, Nina and Matthias’ relationship was really memorable, but I appreciated the girls’ friendship. Mainly because in a typical book like this, they’d be made rivals for no other reason than they’re the only lead girls. But instead, they have an awesome friendship.
Icebreaker’s answer: Hmmm, mostly Wylan and Jesper. Jesper whould insult Wylan lightly, and sometimes I couldn’t help but find his remarks funny. 🙂 (My favorite was whenever Jesper would poke fun at Wylan’s ability on the flute.) Wylan didn’t even try to get back at him in the beginning, he just blushed a ton.
Story: 5/5: This is usually not my kind of story. And in some ways, this isn’t a total story; it’s mainly character driven, and in a way, detail driven. But that is what made it so interesting! It was the characters that pushed this ahead, rather than the plot.
The basic plot is that Kaz Brekker, a criminal prodigy, is given a new job, a difficult one: to break a scientist out of the Ice Court, a prison in Fjerda, which is said to be impossible to break in. This scientist helped create a drug that amplifies the powers of the Grisha, or magic users (I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet, so I can’t fully explain their powers). Kaz assembles a crew of five others to help him pull off this heist.
Characters: 5/5: These. Characters. Are amazing. Everyone had their own personality, motivations, struggles, thought process, backstory…they felt so real! I can’t even talk about them that long, they each have such spoilers attached to them.
Kaz Brekker is the main character. He’s a true anti-hero, often leaning almost to a villainous stance (he reminded me of Moriarty in a way, not even kidding). But he was one of the most interesting characters, intelligent and cold hearted, a true mastermind. I can’t explain his character that well without major spoilers, but he was one of my favorites.
Inej is a spy known as the “Wraith” who was saved by Kaz and now works with the Dregs alongside him. She’s his opposite in several ways; she’s more idealistic and and faithful than he is, and despite her story, she doesn’t allow it to consume her. She’s definitely not what you think when you hear the term “the spy known as the Wraith”.
Nina is a Heartrender Grisha. She can manipulate others’ internal organs, but also has some experience as a Tailor. She’s rather flirty, but proves to be a powerful opponent, as well as truly selfless and even caring.
Matthias is a former drüskelle, or a Grisha hunter. As a Fjerdan, he believes Grisha to be monsters. He has bad blood with Nina, and is incredibly vengeful, revenge being his main motivation throughout the book.
Jesper is a gunman who has a gambling problem. In fact, he came to Ketterdam because of his gambling problem; he though it would lay off debts. He becomes friends with Wylan, and has a quite a plot twist…
Wylan is the least experienced of them all, a runaway who isn’t used to a harsh life (though his backstory is sad). He can be disturbed by violence, but proves to be a valuable asset for the team in more ways than one.
Writing: 4/5: I liked the writing style, but it was quite formal. I was unused to it at first, so it took me a while to get used to it. But it also mastered the art of balancing showing and telling, telling us just enough to make us understand what was going on, but having enough showing for us to put ideas together and figure things out, rather than just huge blocks of exposition. And in a world built as well as this, that’s quite impressive!
Details: 4.5/5: The details were also really good. The whole plan for the heist felt really well executed, as if someone could actually pull off a heist like that. There weren’t many plot holes, if any. Each character’s backstory matched their personality and motivations as well. This was a really detailed book, something that I know I probably couldn’t write half as coherently as Bardugo did. It was so complex and complicated, yet logical and easy to understand.
World Building: 5/5: This world felt so real! Not just Ketterdam and Fjerda, but other countries that we may not see, but have a sort of understanding of, like Ravka and Shu. Each country had their own customs, myths, and laws, making them feel like real countries. And the Grisha in general, with their powers and limitations, felt truly realistic. It took me s while to get into it though; it didn’t explain everything explicitly at first, leaving things to the reader to figure out. I also have a feeling it would’ve helped to have read The Grisha Trilogy first. But once I started to read more, I got more and more into the book, and it become incredibly readable.
Grade: This is somewhat tricky to grade for me for some reason. It’s somewhere between a 4.5/5 and a 5/5. It was a fantastic book. Trust me, I was worried since it was taking me a while to get into it, but once I got into it…I got into it.