Series: The Winner's Trilogy, book 2
Pages: 417 pages
Publisher: Farras Straus Giroux
Dates read: March 6th to March 8th, 2015
Goodreads synopsis:Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
The Winner's Crime is one of those sequels that starts off really slow. Honestly, I considered DNF-ing at around chapter 10/11. But then you get to the last ten chapters and you're just left feeling like man do I love this series. And then you sit there stunned and just.. .wow. If you loved The Winner's Curse, I highly suggest you pick this up.
One of things that I liked the most about this book is how it really built up Kestrel's and Arin's world. In The Winner's Curse, we only really got to see the history of Herran. In Crime, we get the history of Valoria, and we even got to learn about the Dacra kingdom (which I hope we see more of in The Winner's Kiss). I love the world that Marie Rutkoski has built and I love that Crime offered an insight into that world.
The writing was still beautiful, too. I just wanted to keep reading. Even when I was considering not finishing, I wanted to keep going solely because of the fact that the writing was so compelling. And that ending. Did it ever haul up and smack me in the face. I didn't expect it, at all. But I absolutely loved it and it's Crime's redeeming factor, I think.
Also, the emperor. It doesn't happen that I actually get terrified at a book's antagonist. The King of Adarlan in the Throne of Glass series and Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments were the only two before, and now the Emperor of Valoria is joining that list. I would never, ever want to get within ten feet of him. He really terrified me. Which I love. It doesn't happen often that I can see exactly why people fear the antagonists in books.
Now with what I didn't like. The first twenty or so chapters kind of drag on a little bit, but I could get over it because it was mostly world-building stuff anyways, which was awesome. But god, I just found Kestrel kind of really annoying. And I actually liked her in Curse.
The thing is, at the end of Curse, she agreed to marry Verex because she wanted to save the Herrani's lives by preventing a war. She did it knowingly. She knew that, to save Arin and everyone else, she had to marry the prince. That was her decision. So why, why, why did she spend the first quarter of the book whining and moaning about how she needed to marry the prince. Like, you knew exactly what you were getting into, girl. The emperor didn't trick her there. So stop whining. This is a big part of the book that made me not want to continue.
Also, in Curse, I actually found Arin and Kestrel cute. I could see them together. But in Crime, their relationship felt forced. I don't know why but there's just something about their scenes that screamed WE MUST BE TOGETHER. AREN'T WE GREAT TOGETHER? ISN'T OUR LOVE STORY TRAGIC BECAUSE WE'RE STAR-CROSSED LOVERS? And I was just... no. Kestrel was threatened by the emperor like, three times, to stay away from Arin and Tensen and what did she do? Ignore that. I just think Kestrel was out of character when it came to Arin. She didn't think as cleverly as she should've, especially with how she knew the emperor was.
The Winner's Crime is a wonderful continuation to The Winner's Curse. It builds upon the world that was introduced in the first book and the last ten chapters really throw you for you a loop and make you love the series ten times more. Despite a few rocky parts, and the too-forced chemistry between Kestrel and Arin, I am definitely craving the third one. Next year is waaay too far away!