The Winner’s Crime – Review // An Underwhelming Sequel

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Book 2 in The Winner’s Trilogy
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 402
Format: hardcover
Source: library
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


plot: 15/20
characters: 15/20
setting: 20/20
relationships: 15/20
twists: 15/20

Over the summer I finally got around to reading The Winner’s Curse, and I enjoyed it far more than I expected. So when I saw a brand new copy of this book on hold for me at my school library, I got to reading it as soon as I could. However, I must admit that, for me personally, The Winner’s Crime was an underwhelming sequel. 😐

the plot

Even with the characters and world being introduced, The Winner’s Curse still had plenty going on: forbidden romance, war strategy, political intrigue, rebellion. Every chapter was interesting and the second half was a crazy ride. After that, I had been expecting a similar story in The Winner’s Crime. I wanted them to be different, don’t get me wrong, but I assumed there would be the same fast-paced intensity the first book had. That was where this book really fell flat for me. It was still good and I did enjoy it, but it felt more like an aftermath story. The plot was considerably slower and the twists considerably less shocking. It was still interesting, but not as much as the previous installment. I think my expectations were just a bit too high. 😐

the characters

Kestrel remains one of my favorite female leads. Her fighting skills haven’t improved, but her strategic, clever mind is still there. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I love Kestrel as much as I do: she’s cunning. Physically, she’s an ordinary fighter, but mentally, an extraordinary one. I feel like she’s one of the only heroines like that: mentally strong, but not physically. Many other heroines are both, and Kestrel is different, which is refreshing. I also like her passion for the piano, although with the political drama that ensues throughout this book, it becomes more of a tertiaryΒ element. I think the best thing about her in The Winner’s Crime is how she handles the situations she’s in. The end of the first book put her in a position she isn’t fond of, but she knows what’s at stake and says and does what’s necessary. In the end of this book she’s in another unpleasant situation, to put it lightly, and I look forward to seeing how she gets out of it in the trilogy finale. πŸ™‚

To be honest, the only other character I liked in this book was Kestrel’s puppy. Other important characters were only okay, in my opinion. >.<

And that brings me to the other lead, Arin. In The Winner’s Curse I found him flawed, but still liked his charisma and dedication. Here, I didn’t really like him at all. He came off as arrogant and selfish, and I feel like he never gave Kestrel a chance to explain her decisions. Any charismatic appeal he had in the first book wasn’t present in this one. His dedication was, though I think it was put into the wrong things. I’ll just leave it at that, because I don’t want to be harsh or offensive. I hope he redeems himself in the third book. πŸ˜‰

the setting

Much of the story takes place in Valoria’s imperial capital, with one exception in the last third or so. I won’t specify because that kind of qualifies as a spoiler. That aside, the descriptions were amazing. I loved getting to know the palace and the city surrounding it, good and bad. I was also really interested in learning more small details about Valoria as a country. For example, women are required to either marry or join the military by the time they turn twenty. While similar things have been done, I always find little tidbits like that intriguing. πŸ™‚

the relationships

Everyone broke off relationships with Kestrel in this book and I felt bad for her. Her romance with Arin, friendship with Jess, bond with her father, all of it went down the drain. There may have been something with Verex, but nothing that seemed genuine. He got her a puppy, though, so there’s potential. πŸ˜‰

the twists

My other main issue with The Winner’s Crime was the twists, or lack thereof. Yes, there were things I wasn’t expecting, but nothing blew me away like events in The Winner’s Curse did. The most shocking part was the ending, and that’s what has me most excited for the final book. The way this ended did remind me of another book from another series, but I won’t say which one because, well, spoilers. Just know that it’s kind of crazy, and completely unexpected. πŸ˜‰


It might not seem like I enjoyed The Winner’s Crime, but I did. It was a good sequel, just lacking in some areas when compared to its predecessor. Kestrel was still a fantastic lead, the world was still very intriguing, and the ending has me excited to see how the trilogy comes to a close. πŸ™‚

my rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments! πŸ™‚


I’m off to continue reading Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes. πŸ™‚ I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! ❀

Until next time…

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