Saturday, March 7, 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's trilogy
Volume: 2
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: March 3, 2015

A Quick Introduction: Kestrel's engagement to the crown prince of Valoria may have bought Herran's limited independence, but it was at the price of her own freedom. Her marriage to will set her up as the next empress, but it won't bring her happiness. Meanwhile, Arin struggles to gain his peoples' position, and pursues as dangerous alliance. Unknown to him, Kestrel is  working as Herran's spy in the emperor's court, putting her at risk as her investigation draws nearer to a dangerous secret.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: An overall engaging sequel that raises the tension with a quick plot and vivid characters.

Review: The Winner's Crime has a very different feel for The Winner's Curse. While the was subterfuge in the first book, this book takes it to another level. There's deception on so many levels; Kestrel's deceit of the court, her father, the emperor, and Arin, as well as Arin's own spying and general sneaking around. Its an atmosphere that breeds both tension and misunderstandings (boy, does it). The tension I liked, and I enjoyed the air of darkness that often hovered over the novel.

I found that I really appreciated Kestrel and Arin both as characters in this book. The events of this novel serve to emphasize their character flaws. This books shows two stubborn, proud, judgmental people caught in a complicated struggle with themselves, each other, and the world at large. They both tend to jump to conclusions and rush into a situation driven by emotion. Despite all this, I find that I don't hate them, because they're also both two driven people who are struggling fiercely to improve the world, in situations that are so tangled as to be beyond anyone's ability to predict the outcomes (except, perhaps the emperor, who holds all the cards). While their misunderstandings of each other were frustrating, given their respective personalities, they mostly managed not to feel contrived.

The world is fleshed out more in this book, and was satisfactorily done. I would certainly love to see more description of this world. It wasn't as vibrant as I was hoping, but it still served as an excellent backdrop for the events that unfolded.

This book is part political drama and part more fast-paced action, with, of course, a romance woven throughout. It is, in a lot of ways, faster paced than The Winner's Curse, and makes heavier use of the alternating points of view. For much of this book, Kestrel's and Arin's points of view are telling more separate stories, rather than offering different perspectives on a shared one. This works quite well, and certainly kept me turning pages. The only times my engagement faltered was that sometimes words or figures of speech used would seem overly modern for the world.

This also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (more so than the last book), and I'm definitely looking forward to the release of the last book in this trilogy.

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