Series: The Winner's Trilogy,
Published by Macmillan on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Following your heart can be a crimeA royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
― Marie Rutkoski, The Winner’s Crime
The second novel in Marie Rutkoski’s The Winners Series, The Winners Crime, is a stronger entry then the first novel. The political intrigue is more intricate, and it’s easy to feel like anything can happen at any moment. As Kestrel navigates life in the palace, she has to juggle her loyalty to her father and to Arin with that of her fear of the Emperor. On the other side, Arin struggles with his feelings for Kestrel as he tries to secure his country’s independence. Watching these two characters play the dangerous game of politics that may win them their heart’s desire, or cost them everything was fantastic. Yet, I hated the lies they told one another while doing so. Though as infuriating and frustrating as their lies were, that aspect did add to the tension of the story, and help move the plot along.
Another thing I really loved about the book, was how Kestrel had to deal with consequences of her actions from the first novel. This helped to make the world that she lives in seem more realistic to me, and added more problems for her to have to handle, making the stakes in her gamble higher. Her strained relationships with her best friend, Jess and Ronan, help illustrate how dangerous the game Kestrel is playing. One lesson that she was forced to learn, was that life is not another hand of Bite and Sting.
As much as I found the political intrigue to be intriguing and fun to read, one thing that still bothers me about this series is the much touted romance. While I do feel Kestrel and Arin’s romance is believable, it’s kind of strange how the two are willing to risk their lives for one another when they really haven’t had that much contact. In fact they’ve truly only shared three kisses, and hardly spent any time together in this second novel. Then again, Anne Boleyn kept Henry VIII panting after her for many years without giving him much of anything either. So… I guess there’s a historical precedent.
Do I Recommend?
As I stated before, the second novel is a lot stronger than the first. While I felt that The Winner’s Curse was a bit slow at times, The Winner’s Crime had a lot more action and kept me interested from beginning to end. However one of my fears leading into the third novel, which shall be released in 2016, is that Rutkosky will have either no happy ending for Kestrel and Arin, or make us wait until the end of the third novel before they finally get their happily ever after. To be honest, the way the story is going at the moment makes it feel like a tragedy to me, and I find it really hard to see how it’s possible for there to be any happy ending for anyone after everything that’s happened. My recommendation is yes, but read at your own risk! Since I enjoyed this novel more than the first, and found the story to be stronger, I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.