November 6, 2016

The Winner's Crime: A Rambling Review

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I polished this one off in just a couple days. It's quite readable and compelling, despite the fact that for most of the book I just wanted to shake some sense into the two main leads and get them to TALK to each other and get everything out into the open. Of course, if they'd done that, the book would have been a whole lot shorter, but I did feel that all the drama between the two of them was kinda trumped-up, due to Kestrel's insistence not to tell Arin the truth, and Arin's (willful?) obtuseness in ignoring what seemed (at least to me, the reader) to be rather blatantly obvious (spoilers, highlight to read: the reason behind Kestrel's engagement to the prince, and also Kestrel's suggestion to poison the horses instead of burning the eastern plains).

This idiotic behaviour not only caused major problems for their relationship/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, but it also impacted the other stuff going on in the plot. Whereas the first book in the series had a fair bit of action, this one involves less action and more intrigue/secrecy. Unfortunately, as sequels are often wont to do, I felt that this book did not have the same kind of internal story arc that the first did. The plot had less direction and momentum, and there was a chunk in the middle that lagged. It felt sort of like the relationship drama was being used to stretch things out from book 1 to book 3. Of course, along the way we met some new characters and some more plot points happened, but a lot of the difficulties encountered probably could have been avoided if Arin and Kestrel had just sat down and had a long talk.

I also found the writing overused metaphors, and as with the first book, could have provided more description of settings and characters to help me visualize them.

Despite these complaints, I quite enjoyed it! Kestrel and Arin both make mistakes and pay for them, and yet you root for them all the same. The transformation in how Arin views Kestrel as the book progresses is striking (spoiler: he becomes very bitter towards her). Kestrel's gradual change in attitude/perspective regarding slavery, war, and military might that began in the first book progresses in book two, in a way that feels quite organic, rather than being rushed. Her relationship with her father is complicated (boy, is it ever!) and is something I hope book three will delve into more.


  1. Having characters who aren't communicating is definitely one way to engage a reader and keep the tension in a story.

  2. I agree that some things could have been avoided had Kestrel and Arin just sat down and talked. Overall, however, I liked this one more than the first book because it focused more on politics than romance. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the final book (which I loved), Danya.


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