Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

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.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would have to be unnecessary.

Probably because I don’t think annoying as hell would count as one word, so I’m sticking with that.

The Winner’s Crime suffers from what I call “The middle book Syndrome” and that is the second book in a trilogy that adds little to the overall plot, and it’s clearly a set up for the third and last instalment.

The problem with this is, even if you write a book and want the majority of the action to happen in the third instalment, that’s perfectly fine! But in this sequel, the actual story happens in about twenty pages, and the rest is filled with absurd drama, forced tension and predictable plots that weren’t even exciting to read about.

I’m sounding a bit hard here, but can you blame me after banging my head against the wall during the entire read?

The story starts shortly after the end of The Winner’s Curse with Kestrel at court, after she accepted the engagement to Valora’s crown prince to save Arin and his people. We see her navigate her way through the palace and her conflicted relationship to the King, who see her as the cunning heir his son could never be.

I still love the author's capacity to make me believe in this world. There were elements in it that I ahd to think twice on whether they existed or not, because she managed to execute them so naturally that it made me believe it!

I liked Kestrel’s relationship to the King, at first. It was compelling to read how much the two of them seemed to resemble each other, both cunning and ruthless. Here we started to see another side of Kestrel, not so much the innocent girl she had been in the first book as she is forced to make hard decision after hard decision.

Perhaps my problem was that, for all the efforts the author put into making Kestrel a smart and decisive character, she fell flat. You know all those hard decisions she had to make? Well, they were a result of her own stupidity, and it was painful to see her try and fix the mistakes she made while not realizing she had been the one who had gotten herself into that situation.

Instead of being smart and work from the shadows, Kestrel makes it very clear that she is against the King and working with Arin as she works as a “spy” for his Kingdom. Sure, she tried to disguise herself as a “secret” informant for Arin through his friend, but the only one who was fooled was Arin himself. I cringed reading about how “cleverly” she allegedly hid herself and lied to her friends, when it was very clear that those excuses were far-fetched, and that her friends and companions were picking up on the not-so-subtle clues she left behind.

Her relationship with Arin was annoying in the sequel, unlike how exciting and fun it had been in The Winner’s Crime. Their interactions consisted of Kestrel pushing Arin away, Arin not believing her and desperately trying to make her confess she loved him, but when he started to let go, Kestrel would despair and try and win him back, telling him that everything she did, she did it for him, though not wanting to explain what she was doing “because of reasons”.

No no no, I hate that. Really, this book should have been twenty pages long, because that’s the time the real plot takes, the rest is Arin and Kestrel going back and forth in an annoying dance that none could win.

Besides, Arin guesses why it is that Kestrel is behaving this way and confronts her about it at the very beginning. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just go “Well shit, yeah dude you’ve got me there. I really do love you and I’m doing this to protect you and your people.”

But instead she just tell him that, despite having been completely in love with him in book 1, she suddenly fell out of love and is doing the very same thing she said she didn’t want to do, to marry the prince. How does that make sense?? It doesn’t.

These two should have sat down, had a long conversation and settle this matter straight away. Then everybody would have been happy!

Arin was, by far, the most annoying thing in this book. He was more than willing to damn everything for Kestrel, even though she begged him to think of his people and what his actions would cause.
He wasn’t thinking about what he would cause if he kept chasing Kestrel, what that would mean for his people and the fragile peace they now had with Valoria. He just wanted Kestrel, like a spoiled child who fancied a shiny toy. Screw the rest!

The end was the cherry on the cake for his character. Although I will admit that it was interesting how the tables turned, I now do not care for him. I do not want him to succeed in any way, just… go.
I loved the prince, he was clearly smarter than Kestrel and his father, and I really wished Kestrel had listened to him. Everything could have worked out just fine if she had.

Overall, the only thing that made the reading worth it for me was the ending, now I just want to get to the end and see how everything plays out!!!!! But, and I know I’m in the minority here, I don’t want Kestrel to end up with Arin. As much as I felt for him in the first book, he transformed himself into an idiot in this sequel, and I really believe that this girl deserves better.

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