The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: March 3rd 2015

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”

In the thrilling sequel to The Winner’s Curse, Kestral works on living with her new engagement and soon to be father in law – the emperor. Arin struggles to maintain his country’s independence, but it’s becoming clear that the emperor has other ideas. Kestrel longs for Arian, and he longs for her, but Kestrel’s intricate web of lies is keeping them apart. She struggles to find ways to reveal herself to him, but the emperor is always watching.

A case in which the sequel is better than the original. The pacing is much faster and the action is constant throughout the novel. The cast expands to include several more characters, and the world expands to include new settings. It was a little disappointing to see Kestrel left in an almost entirely male world. While there are clearly some female characters who will become more important they all felt a little less than full in this book.

Still, the book manages to be more than it’s predecessor. The stakes are very high and Kestrel is less capable of playing the game when the power is in someone else’s hands. She’s intelligent and strong in many ways, but she is allowed to be weak. She is allowed to show emotion and break down, something that many female characters avoid entirely now for the sake of being “strong”.

Arin was just about the only real complaint I have about this novel. He’s point of view and character are really what hindered the novel and kept it from being five stars. His personality always seems a little undefined and the romance between him and Kestrel is still fairly weak. He’s pushy, demanding and doesn’t seem to consider Kestrel’s feelings at all. He wants what he wants and he holds the belief that Kestrel has to want those things too. This leads to a number of frustrating scenes because Arin will never just listen to Kestrel when she says something. He always has some version of her in his mind, and he doesn’t care if the real one doesn’t fit.

Despite some issues with the male lead the ending really puts this book on top. It’s hard to say anything without major spoilers but you definitely can’t put down the series after an ending like that. It demands to be read.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: Six of Crows

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