Book Review: Winner Take All

Book Review: Winner Take All 

By Laurie Devore

winner take all.png

Winner Take All is a hate-mance story of high school rivals who are vibrant, realistic, and painfully relatable characters. After adoring Laurie Devore’s first book How to Break a Boy, I had high hopes for Winner Take All, and thankfully, it exceeded my expectations.

I fell in love with this book the moment I read the dedication, which reads:

“to any girl who’s ever been too much”

...I can’t ignore him. I won’t stop until I win. It’s my fatal flaw, and jackson hart reads me like a book.
— Winner Take All, Page 3

Lately a lot of YA books have been promising “complicated and strong female characters” but in my opinion no one has delivered on that promise quite as well as Devore. (if you have recs of this type of book please comment below!)

There is something very Lizzie & Darcy about Nell and Jackson, but as angsty, star athlete high school students competing to be valedictorian. Their relationship is far too messy and at times volatile to be called pretty, but in the end the complications and emotion make it beautiful.

Our protagonist and narrator, Nell Becker is awful at times, but in a way that is so familiar it’s both difficult and comforting to read her thoughts and feelings. She is fiery and reckless while also being pervasively human and tender.

Devore weaves topics like anxiety, friendship, betrayal, teen pregnancy, and sexism in to the narrative in a way that informs and provokes the reader while completely adding to the integrity of the story. If I could hand my 16 year old self a stack of books this would absolutely be one of them. This book is packed full of drama and turmoil and moves at a pace that is likely to cause outright obsession in the reader.

I could say it out loud, make it real, but I’m afraid he might realize that I’m just like everyone else.
I’m afraid I might realize it.
— Winner Take All, Page 136

Rating: 4.5/5

For fans of: Looking for Alaska, Conversations with Friends, Carry On.