Monday, August 10, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy #2) 
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Reviews for book 1 & book 3

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.

The Winner's Curse took me totally by surprise and made me fall in love with an amazing new world and a cast of amazing characters! Of course I was dying to get my hands on book two as soon as I could. Although it took me a little longer than I'd hoped, I finally got it on audiobook and set out straightaway to find out what happened next for Kestrel and Arin.

This book picks up very shortly after the first left off. Kestrel is preparing for her wedding (and trying as hard as she can to delay it as much as possible) while keeping her true purposes for the marriage hidden from everyone. Ari is doing his own thing as governor of Herran, all the while thinking that Kestrel has betrayed him. In The Winner's curse I really enjoyed Kestrel and loved her strong character. I also LOVED the romance between Kesterl and Arin. Unfortunately, book two let me down a little on both fronts.

Kestrel, while still a strong and capable heroine, has become overly angsty in The Winner's Crime, to the point where it was honestly kind of irritating. I understand WHY Kestrel felt like she couldn't be honest about her motivations, but it seemed to me that the deceit card was way overplayed. Arin does show up at the palace eventually and the ridiculous amount of lying or hiding of the truth between these two became annoying and unbelievable. It also really detracted from everything I loved about the first book, namely the romantic aspects. I know I've said this before, but maybe I'm just getting too old to appreciate the overly angsty angle on romance. Just say what you mean!!

That being said, this book was still really enjoyable. I loved learning more about the world that The Winner's Trilogy takes place in and I feel like this is where the series thrives! I still feel like I can't place the culture, but that's fine because it's so detailed and amazing and wholly original that I just feel like I need to go there! The palace was described beautifully. I was also really glad that the events of the book gave me a chance to explore different cultures than the Herrani and the Valorian.

I did like where the story went for the most part although I did have some issues with it, mostly what has already been stated. I wish Kestrel and Arin's relationship had been explored a little more. I didn't love how political this book was when compared to the first. But, like I've said, I did love that I was able to follow Arin to a totally new place and learn even more about him! The pace was incredibly slow when compared to the first book and that really did damage the experience for me. I was actually so bored that I took a break from this one for about a month and then came back to it.

Overall, this was not a bad book. I did enjoy it and I feel like it did explore new things that probably needed to be covered. It definitely was not as good as The Winner's Curse, though. I'm really hoping this book is just suffering from middle book syndrome and that The Winner's Kiss will wrap up the series with a bang!

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
This is not the first time I've heard Justine Eyre's voice acting skills. In the past I've really enjoyed her work and this was no different! My only complaint is that the accents she used for all of the characters were really strange. I guess this fits with the not-quite-placeable culture of the book though.