Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 27, 2014
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)
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.
Um. Yeah. Marie Rutkoski? You broke my feels (probably everyone’s feels) with this book. Is it possible to be broken in a good way? Because I think this was it. I don’t usually put gifs in my reviews but let’s just say I’m lost somewhere in between “a little broken” and “shattered to pieces”… I’ll admit it — I was one of those people who felt like THE WINNER’S CURSE started out juuuust a bit slow (don’t worry — obviously I was totally captivated in the second half) but in retrospect, I think that was just because it was a non-magical fantasy and I wasn’t quite used to that. Immediately after finishing CURSE I was dying for CRIME so I picked this one up fairly quickly after I got it in the mail from Macmillan! Now that some time has passed, I girded my feels for what might happen in book two (wasn’t really possible), and I knew exactly what I was in for (I really didn’t), I threw myself head first into THE WINNER’S CRIME.
The book starts off pretty much where THE WINNER’S CURSE left us. IN AGONY. No, but really. The plot picks up a little ways where we last left Kestrel and right from the first page I was hooked. I don’t really want to go into the plot (of CURSE or CRIME) because I don’t want to start spilling out spoilers but let’s just say Kestrel put herself in a compromising position in order to try to help Arin and then these two… This is the most tension and frustration I’ve felt since I read JUST ONE YEAR. It KILLED me to see these two constantly sacrificing something to help the other and that plan backfiring, or missing opportunities to finally say something to each other, or almost giving in to what they want and pulling away. GAH.
One thing I really loved was how twisty everything got at the end of THE WINNER’S CURSE and CRIME surely follows in the same vein as well. Kestrel and Arin constantly killing us with all of their clandestine meetings and emotional self-torture, but obviously they both have their reasons to do so. THE WINNER’S CRIME is a sort of constant volley back and forth between Kestrel’s plans and Arin’s plans and witnessing how close they are and yet how far they are is just torture. If these two could just communicate… but they can’t. And the readers go NUTS.
Okay, trying to move away from the feels here… Once again, Marie Rutkoski does a fantastic job with making these characters just leap off of the page. The new characters that are added are just fantastic and I really connected to them in a short time span, getting immediately invested. I had a love/hate relationship with the emperor because he was just awful but like, an amazing evil (think Umbridge) that I just loved to hate him. I also love the way this world grew. I got to know more about neighboring regions and the imagery in my head was just gorgeous. The descriptions were so wonderful that I could really picture everything as it was playing out. Just fantastic.
I honestly want to say so much more about this book, but like its predecessor, THE WINNER’S CRIME is one you just want to experience for yourself. It’s a great balance between character and plot and when things start to escalate in the end, I assure you that you’ll be on the edge of your seat! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you finish and want book three immediately…
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Kestrel // Character Obsessions: Her wedding day, secrecy, plotting, Arin, her father.
MAN, Kestrel is so badass. I love how she’s plotted and schemed her way into this… well, terrible situation, but she’s always planning one step ahead. That’s not always a good thing when other characters have plans too *cough*Arin*cough* but she is always thinking and I just love her brilliance and ferocity.
The Emperor // Character Obsessions: Plotting, control, dominance, torture.
This guy is one SCARY DUDE and I love it. I mean, I totally hate him but I’m also fascinated wondering where he ends up in the plot the whole time and what he’s planning while others are planning too. He’s very smart and he always knows what’s going on. So scary.
Kept Me Hooked On: Non-magical fantasy. I do love magic systems in most of my fantasy books but I love that this is high fantasy without magic. World building is honestly one of my favorite parts and I totally feel like I can envision this entire world.
Left Me Wanting More: Kestrel/Arin interactions. I mean, obviously. These two KILLED me. In a good way? I’m glad that things happened the way they did because it was SOOO good but I also just wanted to lock the two of them up together so they could talk. And kiss.
These books are great. I feel bad that I wasn’t AS invested in the beginning of THE WINNER’S CURSE and that kind of affected my overall love for the series (at first) but CRIME totally knocked it out of the water. It was so incredibly captivating and I cannot wait for book two!
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(Click the cover to see my review!)