Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
My Thoughts on The Winner’s Crime:
I’m both mad that I waited so long to read this sequel to The Winner’s Curse and happy I waited. Because it was amazing and I was missing out on all the gloriousness (is that a word? I just made it one.), but at the same time THAT ENDING!!! I seriously don’t know how all you poor souls survived the wait. Marie Rutkoski, you are an evil genius.
My favorite thing about this book was the politics and the constant underlying danger every single character is in. Both Kestrel and Arin are walking on eggshells this entire book trying not to piss the emperor off. Arin is trying to help his people survive the heavy taxes and food shortages placed on him by the emperor and Kestrel is walking a fine line between her appearance of loyalty to the emperor and his son and her heart’s desire to be with Arin. Even Kestrel’s father, the General has to tread carefully around the emperor. I was really happy we got a good look into who this villain is in this book. We didn’t see him much in the first book and it was interesting to get to know our antagonist. I would really like to know his motivation though. Right now it seems as if he just wants to conquer. And maybe that’s all there is to him, but I like my antagonists to be complex so I’m hoping for a little more in the final book.
I enjoyed seeing more of our antagonist, the emperor, but I’d like to know more about what drives him to be so cruel.
Kestrel is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever encountered in the YA space. I love that she isn’t physically strong. She can’t fight well and she doesn’t enjoy it. She has no desire to learn how to fight and kill someone. She’s capable enough to protect herself, but that’s not her which is a breath of fresh air in the YA market. In the Winner’s Crime, we see even more of Kestrel’s strategic mind. I think we saw just how smart she was in The Winner’s Curse, but even more so in this follow-up. Her mind fascinates me. I loved watching her work things out so she could play both sides effectively. She’s brilliant and should be a role model for young women everywhere.
Kestrel teaches readers that it’s okay to not be physically strong. Being mentally strong is just as important, if not more so.
Arin, my sweet Arin. I love him so much!!! I need him to be okay and I need Kestrel and Arin to just be together and live happily ever after. Arin struggles with his place in this book. He’s desperately trying to help his people, but he’s drawn to Kestrel like a moth to a flame even when he knows it endangers both of them. Arin is hardened from a life of slavery and I love that he doesn’t back down from anything. It could be a physical threat against him or showing his vulnerabilities to the woman he loves. Arin faces all of this head-on. He’s still learning though and he’s certainly not perfect and I loved watching him figure things out, taking on difficult tasks for the good of his people. Fighting for the Herrani rights. *swoon*
Arin teaches readers to have courage and not back down from any situation, no matter how difficult.
The twists and turns in the Winner’s Crime will leave your jaw hanging. I was shocked so many times throughout this book. Especially towards the end when everything just explodes in a frenzy of crazy. That was when my feels broke. So much happened in this book and by the end I was emotionally exhausted. And now I’m just freaking the fuck out because honestly what is going to happen???
My one tiny complain about this book is how Arin & Kestrel are torn apart the whole book. I have a pet peeve about this happening to couples during a series. I would much rather watch them work together towards their goals like Vin and Elend in Mistborn. However, I understand why they have to be apart for this book and really the series as a whole. I just pray that they’ll get their happily ever after or I might die.
What did you think of this follow-up? Were you shocked at all the twists? Are you dying for Arin and Kestrel to have their happily ever after? Did you read this when it first came out? How did you survive that cliffhanger???