Author: Marie Rutkowski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 0 stars
The Overview: 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.
The DNF Q&A:
This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name) kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. Life’s too short to read books you’re just not enjoying. So let the Q&A begin!
Did you really give The Winner’s Crime chance?
Absolutely! That is, if reading more than half the book before deciding to put it down is “giving it a chance.”
Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?
Yes – in fact some of my all time favorite books in this genre share a lot of similarities to the Winner’s novels, most notably:
I just didn’t think this book stacked up.
Did you have certain expectations before starting it?
Well, all of the five stars “Oh my God, the FEELS!!!” reviews flooding the blogosphere certainly didn’t help me dive into this book with no expectations. I will say that I also had issues with the first book that placed me in the minority, so I was already skeptical that I would like this one as much as everybody else.
What ultimately made you stop reading?
Ultimately it was the inconsistency of character that made me put this book down. I started out liking Kestrel, and still think she is a great character, but I’ve never been able to perceive Arin as a complete person – mostly because his passages seldom focused on developing his own character, but rather on how his world centers around Kestrel. I think his entire persona in this book can be summed up by a quote on page 212, “Arin’s unruly mind didn’t care for that logical explanation.” And it was this complete lack of logic and individual thought that made him feel like a subpar character and ultimately frustrated me enough to stop reading. He just didn’t ever feel real, and as the entire plot structure hangs on the reader giving a shit about the relationship between him and Kestrel, I found it wanting.
If it was just Arin though, I think it would’ve been okay. But when Kestrel – one of the coolest female strategists I’ve come across in the genre – failed to attack her problems regarding Arin with any sort of strategy, that was when I found my deal breaker. I feel like if she’s going to be that amazing at strategizing, it should apply EVERYWHERE in the book, not just when the author needs to advance a plot line. As it was, the conflict between the two main characters felt just as unnecessarily forced and drawn out as it did in the first book. I would have found it so much more satisfying had they worked together to solve their problems instead of needlessly perpetuating them.
Was there anything you liked about The Winner’s Crime?
Yes – I liked the secondary characters and really enjoyed the story before the protagonists fell out of character. I am genuinely interested to see what happens in this world and how the dynamics play out… I just don’t think I have the patience to actually see it through. I also still really like Kestrel and was fascinated every time she put strategy into play.
Would you read anything else by this author?
That’s a good question – it depends a lot on what type of story she writes next and if I’m in the mood to risk it at the time… I feel a little burned at the moment.
So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?
Absolutely! I realized going into this sequel that I am BY FAR in the minority on how I feel about it. Chances are, if you liked Throne of Glass, you will also really enjoy this one. I’m actually more disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as everyone else than I am about the book itself.