Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Winner's Crime


Book Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Ruthkoski
Series: The Winner's Curse #2
Date Started: March 9th 2015
Date Completed: March 12th 2015
Genres: Romance, Mystery, Adventure
Quality Rating: Four Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Four stars

The Winner's Curse was so different and unique and wonderful in its romance without being typical or annoying. It had taken the politics and made that an actual threat and influence on Kestrel and Arin's actions. The Winner's Crime was most what the first book wasn't - and it makes me sad that its in a bad way. Overall, it was the abrupt changes from the last book disappointed me, but even the story itself was underwhelming.

I do really like Rutkoski's writing; it's really nice but also easy to read. Despite not enjoying The Winner's Crime as much as the first book, I still got very easily lost within the pages - and it's not often that I sit down and look up an hour and a half later thinking it had been five minutes. The style just tied in so well with the uniqueness of the first book, but I felt like it was somewhat lost amongst the reasonably level tension throughout this story.

The big big thing I loved about The Winner's Curse was how well Rutkoski had avoided being typical and having her characters pining or being just downright stupid. The big surprise for me was when halfway through the book, Kestrel and Arin started to be annoying. But I thought it's fine, they have a right to have miscommunication. But then they starting pining, and still refused to do anything about it. And then they started acting stupidly in ways that didn't affect them but their country. And it got to the point where it was more about their 'will they, won't they' dilemma than about the characters themselves and their situations - arguably at a time when their situations should've been the driving forces for the whole story.
At first there was some really nice inclusion of politics: it was dangerous and it was logical. But it ended up petering out towards the end, and it ended up only really being there for the cliffhanger. I noticed with a couple of things in this novel that were only really there as a cliffhanger - it felt like Rutkoski was picking and choosing what mistakes actually ended up having consequences at all. The threat of politics; Kestrel's principles; the time it took for Arin to have a brain and realise what was going on - it was all only there for a particular thing, but then there didn't seem to be much effort to hide its purpose (I don't even think there was a trigger for Arin's realisation. It just happened to be at this moment where things would work out like she wanted for the plot. Not how it actually would've happened if the characters were acting normally).
But to be honest I could've gone with all that and just been mildly disappointed. But then the whole book became really negative and depressing - I can't even remember a lot of the beginning of the story because of how much the second half just felt strange. Even in dark or sad books, there's got to be some sort of hope or objective to drive the characters into action. But there was nothing. No triumphs or achievements at really any point in the story; no hope for anything coming soon. I don't know what happened, but when I finished the last page I didn't feel any real tension towards what was going to happen in the next book, or any sense of a big approaching climax. I will read the next book because I'm praying this was just a couple of things getting a bit muddled, and I'm sure after that first book the end will be great.

There's only a few new characters in this book - something that surprised me a little, and also was slightly disappointing. I loved the introduction of Verex and his impact on the story, though I feel he was slightly wasted, especially considering there are so few people left that Kestrel might consider an ally.
Kestrel herself had changed a bit from the last book (or so I remember). Honestly, I was okay with that because of what likely happened in between the novels, and I liked that her principles and political understanding were still very important to her. But when they started slipping she didn't seem to try very hard to get back to herself and it actually didn't impact the plot until the very end (when it really should have).
If I'm honest, the thing that irritated me the most about the whole book was how different Arin was. Perhaps I remember him wrong, but even so the stubbornness with which he was pushing to get what he wanted, and the way he pined for the majority of the book, and how stupid he was, just wasn't Arin. Sure, he hadn't been the most practical or cunning character I'd ever read about, but he wouldn't spend so long only thinking about himself - even above his people towards the end. I was prepared for him to have changed, but his aggression with no explanation I could see, turned him into a typical YA male interest that wasn't getting what he wanted and I hated it.

The Winner's Crime was very addictive. I've already mentioned how easily I got lost in it, especially at the start. But when things started to get more and more unlikely the magic broke down a bit for me and I started reading smaller and smaller chunks.

I would widely recommend The Winner's Curse, but it's harder for The Winner's Crime. If you enjoy romance then you'll love this series, but even if you aren't someone who enjoys stories centered purely around a love story (like myself) the writing style and world building really pushed up the appeal for me. However much I was disappointed by this book, it was necessarily bad - and because of that I do think it is worth reading if you enjoyed the first novel. Perhaps just don't expect quite the same thing.

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