Genre: YA, Alternate Universe (still not a fantasy)
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2
Disclaimer: This review will contain spoilers for the first novel of the series, The Winner’s Curse.
Over halfway through the third, and final, book of the series, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this one.
This novel starts about a month after the previous one ended. Kestral is engaged to the Valorian prince, Arin is the Herran governor and they’re both pretty miserable. And the Emperor seems to be planning something, something that might not be good for Herran, so Kestral has turned spy to find out what that is; which is not easy because the emperor is very smart.
That leads to scheming, lying, manipulation, secrets and a whole lot of other stuff that had me very interested. Honestly, everything going on between Kestral and the Emperor had me at the edge of my seat. While the things going on between her and Arin were breaking my heart. They had so many problems to face and it was sad to see how those problems came between them.
The writing was same as the first book: good, but also a touch pretentious at times. Kestral was, again, my favourite and I even very much like Arin. He had a lot of faith in Kestral, a lot more someone normally would, and it showed that they had a strong bond despite the obstacles; which were relentless.
The world-building, which was my major complaint against The Winner’s Curse, improved a lot. We got a clearer picture of the history, geography, races, political system and even religious beliefs. That was a big plus of this sequel that tips the balance more towards 4 stars than 3.
Now the reason I’m conflicted is because of an aspect of the book (a kind of book trope) that I’m not fond of.
You know how sometime in novels, YA novels especially, one person has to lie to the other about his or her true nature or feeling for some reason, and the other person hates them for it but still tries to reconcile, only to end up being pushed away again, and things get all kinds of angsty?
Yeah, I hate that.
And it happened too often in this book. I know why it had to be there and that there were difficult choices to be made; but it still doesn’t make me like it. Stuff like this grates on me in the worst way and makes me wanna scream. I hate it that much.
Still, it wasn’t as bad as in some other books (like Lady Midnight; almost threw the book across the room with that one) and I could deal with it for the most part. And this was a big improvement on the first book so I can’t complain too mcuh.
Overall, this was a good sequel and set up for the final book. It had a great protagonist, better world-building and an interesting plot. I’m pretty happy with it. This is turning out to be a good series.