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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Winner's Crime

For the love of all the Book Gods, I am lost for words! I finally dared to open the second in a series. And when I say dare, I really mean it because I was so scared to start this book. I shouldn't have been! If I thought this book was going to disappoint me, I was absolutely wrong. I said it with the first book and I'll say it again: this is probably the best book I've read in 2017 so let's make this statement right: this will probably be the best series I've read this year. The second book in The Winner's-trilogy is ready for it's review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

WARNING For the ones here that haven't read the first in this series, I recommend you not to read on since there will be further developments to the characters and to the plot. This will create a less pleasant read of The Winner's Crime because you know more information than you already should. Therefore, I recommend you not to read the review of The Winner's Crime but to read the review about the first in the series: The Winner's CurseJust clicking on the title will open a new page with the review on the first book. 

Now Arin is free and has his country back, it's Kestrels duty to keep him safe and free. However everything comes with a price and Kestrel is paying it. Being the Prince's finance, she feels as if she's living in a cage going from one celebration to the other. All this time her heart is longing for someone else but she's made it her job to protect the one that lies closest to her. But with every day that day of the wedding approaching and every moment Kestrel has to live through the torture, she's aching to tell Arin the truth about everything and tell him how she sacrificed everything because of him and so he would be safe. 
Arin however tried everything to win Kestrel back and to make her tell him the truth, but the God of Lies loves Kestrel and all this time she tried to protect him. Some truths should have been told earlier and some lies should've never been said in the first place. Kestrel becomes the goddess of  deceit as she becomes a spy all the while Arin is fighting to keep his country's freedom. When the truth finally will come out, hearts will be cut open and left to bleed...

This book has left me speechless! The reason why I was so scared to begin the second is the series is because of the ending in The Winner's Curse. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the first in the series and also loved the ending because it wasn't typical and as I had thought it would end. 

By now we all know that (SPOILER ALERT if you're reading this review and haven't read the first book!) Kestrel and Arin aren't together and left each other. We also know there's been made a deal and that Kestrel didn't get engaged because she was madly in love with the prince. All of us that read The Winner's Curse know that sacrifices have been made and that one of the parties doesn't know anything about it. My ship was totally wrecked at the end of the book because my love for Arin and Kestrel is too big for words. My thoughts immediately thought that The Winner's Crime would make sure that Arin and Kestrel would be far away from each other and that the book would begin to develop a plot where both don't or barely see each other. However the author really made sure that both characters were still linked to each other and would develop the plot while also coming across each other in different situations! 

So the thing that scared me to start The Winner's Crime was really nothing to be scared of and even though the characters will not be like they were in the first book, due to circumstances and lies, I still absolutely enjoyed the atmosphere they brought the book and how, independently, they twisted the story to what is has become! 

What I really feel with these characters is that each of them is growing on a rapid pace and have now fully stepped into the world of deceit and lies. Although The Winner's Curse also really focused on this, I felt like the second book did an even better job on this! Especially because the lies are the main thing that split our characters apart from each other and might keep them that way or might bring them together like this.

The role with deceiving and lying and being totally focused on the game was really Kestrels and I absolutely loved to see how she was going at it. From the first book we knew that Kestrel has a very strong mind that's smart and knows how to makes strategies. We wouldn't expect less of a general's daughter. However in The Winner's Crime, Kestrel did an even better job especially because she felt the need to. This need was very clear for the readers and also made it very pleasant. 

Once again we saw a very strong and determined Kestrel that always explained her motives to the readers but never let anything get obvious to the other characters that she was deceiving them. Her strategies were totally new and also amazing to see. The author really made sure that we could follow every step through her mind and that we knew her motives and which strategy she preferred over the other. The thing with Kestrel in this book was that I really felt like she was balanced out. Her longing to protect Arin was so strong that it made her mind games even better and her strategies excellent. 

The last thing I really want to say about Kestrel is that she might look very strong and of course, she is! However we really see her suffer in this book as well, because she can't have what she wants so badly. Her need to protect is bigger which I think is a trait from this character that came out a lot stronger in the second book than it did in the first. The things she wants and where she's currently at because of her protectiveness also really reflects how caged she feels and how it's making her rot from the inside out. Above that Kestrel doesn't only want to keep Arin safe by helping him and give information through someone else, she also wants her father to love her and respect her. 

That's something that Kestrel always has wanted, even since the first book and I have to say that my questions about if this was going to be resolved and how are now satisfied. The author will also concentrate on her inner conflict: getting the love of her Father and being with the man she loves. There's a lot in store for Kestrel and she'll be walking on a very thin line where she'll have to be careful not to make any mistakes. The verge of danger she's in and what her heart wants will really make this character amazing and magnificent!

As for Arin, I really felt that his character struggled a lot as well and was in an inner conflict just like Kestrel. Arin is also longing for everything in the past and that made it hard for him to move on and be a man. The plot will keep referring to Arin fighting between the little boy from the first book and the man that he's now in the second book. Arin does play well in the games at court, however he's less of a game player in The Winner's Crime. While Kestrel really is fighting for something close to Arin, Arin is trying to keep his land and busy with other political influences that can help him keep Harran. 

Although he might be busy with other things, Arin will still think of Kestrel a lot. And Kestrel's strength of strategy has been rubbed off on him in this book. The author really showed how much more Arin can do and how much he can think like Kestrel which I think was a great asset to the book because that was something that linked the two characters, now split, together. 

Speaking of the two linked together, both will see each other on multiple occasions through the book where we see their personalities develop and grow stronger. Kestrel being deceiving to protect but also being a source of information for Arin without him knowing and Arin being smarter, stronger and more developed. Both of their characters are going to be very strong and stubborn which will form multiple clashes between the two and the readers will be left with frustration because we know everything but they don't! 

A last thing about Arin though, is that I feel like he isn't only struggling with the whole past and present but also with seeing the lies and conspiracies. Throughout the book we'll see that Kestrel has the advantage because she has a stronger mind to make conspiracies, strategies and to lie. Arin is strong in that part too but not as strong as Kestrel which causes Arin to struggle a lot with seeing the truths when he thinks she's lying. Both play a very convincing role in pushing and pulling each other which will have different effects that will leave the readers with feelings all over the place! 

The relationship between the two isn't like we saw it in the first book which I think is an asset to the story. The plot has developed in many ways so we can't expect for them to be the same. However since it's written in an all-knowing-persona we do really see what they both long for but how things have changed and what made the change. Meanwhile we'll be left with feeling and wished we were the Gods of love so we could interfere! The characters really showed a big development that left me lost for words but really happy. Their personalities are just so much stronger, kind of the same, which makes it hard for them to interpret and understand each other like they did before, even if their feelings speak the same language. Absolutely outstanding once again!

As for the plot there's a game to play so make sure you're ready! Even in The Winner's Curse I noticed that the author had a gift to make these conspiracies and to trick the readers even if it was written in an all-knowing-persona. Also in the second book the conspiracies and games will play a major role. Especially because it's these games that Kestrel needs to protect the person she's wanted from the start. 

In the first book the author focused on the empire of Valoria and how Herran was colonized by them. Even then there were conspiracies and rebellion which caused the ending of The Winner's Curse as we all know it now. In The Winner's Crime the focus of war will be less on Herran and more on the East: Dacra. This doesn't mean that Valoria and it's players won't keep Herran in their sight. The book really has a higher political aspect than it had in The Winner's Curse but I actually loved to see that because it made sure that we could see our characters form strategies which I absolutely adore. Being that the focus of war has changed also brings Arin to the table. 

As I mentioned the eyes won't leave Herran because many Valorian people are not happy that it got it's independence. Kestrel will do anything to make sure it keeps it and therefore will also start playing an even more dangerous game. For the first time Kestrel changes her ways and will turn on her own nationality because of Arin. Even though he doesn't know, Kestrel will be feeding information and she'll be everywhere when it comes to the political games. Why? Because the emperor of Valoria knows how strong Kestrel is when it comes to war and making moves and he wants her to take over when she's ready. I really loved how the plot turned this story so much in the second book. Although The Winner's Curse also contained this political aspect, I feel like it didn't concentrate on it as much as it did in The Winner's Crime. The danger is real because Kestrel turned on her people and will now have to be extra careful. The author also really shows what happens when you do that and how dangerous it can get.

The plot really needed all these wars and strategies to make the plot evolve the way it did. I can't really tell more because that would spoil but just know it's not a boring thing at all! Many might think this will be dragging on but in fact it made things a lot more interesting and also a lot clearer. You really got to be in the character's head and see how every move is written out and why they chose things the way they did. The war is now everywhere. Valoria is turning onto Herran and Dacra which makes things very interesting for the main characters and will develop a lot of things.

The plot is one big game where the players have to trust their gut to see through lies and deceit. I think that was also the thing that made me love this book the most: even though our characters aren't close all times both still play the game to favor the other and to find out the truth. The lies are big and important and the reader really needs to read carefully which also makes us feel like we're into this book. It really gives a lot of freedom to think for ourselves and to search for motives of other characters such as the General, the emperor, the queen of Dacra and even old friends. 

Even though we think we know everything because of the all-knowing-persona we keep being presented with these unexpected turns that make us suffer or encourage the characters to go on and that's really what a book should do: be unexpected when it seems like we know everything. If you loved the first book and really fell in love and made Kestrel and Arin your ship, then you'll also be on fire when it comes to feelings. It's really as if we're part of this game where we see our characters go away from each other because of everything that's happening: the war, the upper hand in the game, the players and the conspiracies. It's easy to feel lied to in this book and to have to guess if you're right or wrong which adds to the feels in this book and made the characters as they are now! 

For short the plot is absolutely amazing: it's a big game where it doesn't only resolve around Kestrel and Arin anymore, many other characters will find their way into the story and play along with the game. You'll be lied to, you'll be seeing people disappear and deceive and you'll see how much people long for things they can't have. Above that the plot really influences the moves of the characters and made them develop as they did.

Once again Marie Rutkoski brought an amazing story that followed up on the first book in this series. I was so pleased with book one and finally got around to read the second. I have to admit I was scared to start The Winner's Crime, because I didn't know if I'd like to see my two main characters in a situation they got in at the end of The Winner's Curse. However I'm also really happy to admit that this book turned out to be even better than I had expected. The characters grew and fight against what they see as lies and truths. I really loved how the author played games with us and made us doubt these lies and truths. Above that this book is filled with conspiracy that still involved both characters and therefore kept them linked together even if they weren't near each other. It's an outstanding book that really keeps you on your toes, even though we know almost everything since it's written in 3rd person. I absolutely loved how the plot evolved and how the author played with the characters. A great book (and so far series) if you're in need of a game that's played with lies, conspiracy and so much more!

“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.” 

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