Winner Take All

Winner Take All

For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.They both have everything to lose.Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is som...

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Title:Winner Take All
Author:Laurie Devore
Rating:

Winner Take All Reviews

  • Courtney

    I went on a little tweet spree about this book. I want the world to read it.

  • Jane

    Upgrading this to 4.5 stars.

    WOW. This blew my mind and was pretty messed up, not gonna lie. But it was also amazing and made so many brilliant points about being a girl, and power dynamics, and basically this was such a fierce surprise of a book.

  • Miriam

    Since I am a sucker for that "high-achieving rivals first hate each other but then develop feelings for each other-thing" I decided to give Winner Take all a chance, despite its not so good rating here on Goodreads. I must say that this book did totally surprise me in many ways.

    The story starts really quick and I felt myself being drawn into the setting and the plot. I was hooked from the beginning and barely able to put the book down for about the first half. I'm not saying the story

    Since I am a sucker for that "high-achieving rivals first hate each other but then develop feelings for each other-thing" I decided to give Winner Take all a chance, despite its not so good rating here on Goodreads. I must say that this book did totally surprise me in many ways.

    The story starts really quick and I felt myself being drawn into the setting and the plot. I was hooked from the beginning and barely able to put the book down for about the first half. I'm not saying the story was super-exciting or suspenseful, just your average contemporary book with interesting developments. But the important topics it dealt with were a pleasant surprise. The main character Nell grew up as the only child of a middle-class family in an environment that stresses traits as wealth, skin colour and reputation above anything else. Despite her background, she finally managed to get a place at a well-respected prep school and started her rise to the top of class rankings. Using Nell as an example, the author lays out how society still makes it so much easier for rich, white boys to succeed in life. In addition, the book deals with racism and slut-shaming in a good way by laying its finger on the different consequences the same behavior can have for different people.

    Towards the eding, it felt like Nell and Jackson faced the ame problems again and again without really making a progress and that started getting on me.

    Said characters were developed interestingly and drawn with care, though. Jackson seems to be the average rich white boy who seems to have everything in life, not because he worked hard for it, but because he was born with certain privileges. Feeling superior to almost everyone else, he treated people and especially girls in a way that made me cringe.

    Nell is someting entirely else. At the beginning od the book, I thought she was a true idol when it comes to topics as fighting against traditonal rules and to rise to the top, wanting more than other people would expect you to deserve. In addition, she did not wait for the boy to make the first step and was mature enough to tell and show what she wanted. But everything started to go downhill towards the end of the book. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that she is not actually a good person. She makes horrible choices and I eventually got really angry because of her.

    In her acknowledgements, the author states that she sometimes jokes

    I agree with her on that.

    The writing was good in a flowing way that made me fly through the pages. I still have a drop of bitterness to add: Sometimes in passages with a lot of direct speech, I was unable to tell who was talking at the moment and had to wait for a clue to figure it out and then go back again and reread the whole passage. This might not disturb every reader, but I found it a bit frustrating.

    To sum it up, I would recommend this book to contemporary-lovers who enjoy reading about serious topics and can stand reading about

    .

  • Tatiana

    I am a mega sucker for this kind of YA plot - a prep school, a girl and a boy are in throws of a fight for academic supremacy, the guy is popular and rich, the girl is high-strung and scrappy. Sparks fly, right? Only can she believe him? She is not stupid to think he finds her to be SO SPECIAL from the other girls he’s dated. Or is this some kind of sick game? And if it is, who is going to win it?

    A lot of this book worked for me, especially the MC clear-headedness about how this whole scenario i

    I am a mega sucker for this kind of YA plot - a prep school, a girl and a boy are in throws of a fight for academic supremacy, the guy is popular and rich, the girl is high-strung and scrappy. Sparks fly, right? Only can she believe him? She is not stupid to think he finds her to be SO SPECIAL from the other girls he’s dated. Or is this some kind of sick game? And if it is, who is going to win it?

    A lot of this book worked for me, especially the MC clear-headedness about how this whole scenario is basically a fantasy. The secrets and the family dynamics are stellar. The points about sexism and privilege and over-achieving are important, although delivered often too bluntly. But then, it’s a messily written novel that would have been so much better after a few more rounds of editing. I felt like Nell and Jackson walked in circles a lot, having the same kinds of conversation and fights. Too bad, because it’s a compelling romance scenario that worked in this YA book better than in a multitude of adult romances I keep trying to enjoy.

  • Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink

    . Oy. Ok. I have a lot of thoughts. And I'm sorry, I hate writing ranty reviews, and I always want to be nice and considerate even in my negative ones. A lot of people will honestly enjoy this book very much, but it left a bad taste in my mouth, probably because of the life I've lived. So maybe its just me.

    Before I go any further, I want to leave some disclaimers so you know what to expect. I'm not saying I disagree with the author throwing these heavy topics in the book, because I think it's im

    . Oy. Ok. I have a lot of thoughts. And I'm sorry, I hate writing ranty reviews, and I always want to be nice and considerate even in my negative ones. A lot of people will honestly enjoy this book very much, but it left a bad taste in my mouth, probably because of the life I've lived. So maybe its just me.

    Before I go any further, I want to leave some disclaimers so you know what to expect. I'm not saying I disagree with the author throwing these heavy topics in the book, because I think it's important to show real life issues, but I'm going to point them out. There's A LOT of sex. Not in detail, but the very topic is woven heavily throughout the pages. Heavy teen drinking. Possible pregnancy. Anxiety + mental issues + depression. Family issues / cheating. (Thankfully, the author put links in the back for anyone suffering from some of those issues. I really appreciated that).

    Anyway, I was SO excited as I was reading the first 30% of this book. It seemed like a fun, angsty, hate-to-love. I'm not the type of person who reads a lot of contemporary - I like to stick to fantasy. But I make an exception sometimes for a really fun hate-to-love story full of crazy drama and blah blah. I really thought that's what I was going to get here. And trust me, that's certainly the theme, but I was left with a sour taste. More on this in a minute.

    I will say this- there are some fun bits to the story, sure. It was addicting and difficult to put down. I certainly felt like I was in Nell's head. And the plot twist with Jackson really threw me - I should have seen it coming but I didn't.

    Anyway...

    I know this book meant to challenge that. I know the author wanted to show a flawed heroine and challenge the whole idea of men getting away with crap girls can't.

    But the heroine hardly had ANY redeeming qualities. No, I wouldn't brush aside a male character that was this mean either, so don't even go there. I just had a very hard time with this book because it was all just nasty behavior after nasty behavior, with very few lessons learned (or at least, the whole 'realization of wrongdoing' part was muddy at best. Of course, that's just my opinion. I'm not trying to be hurtful, and maybe this will speak to other people, but it just made me angry. Nell never thought more than a second about anyone but herself and how to one-up EVERYONE. She treated her friends horribly, and yes there were end apologies, but it wasn't enough for me. I kept trying to search for *some* semblance of compassion in her, but I found none. Her only redeeming quality was that she was a hard worker. But so are a million other people.

    And then there was the whole mess with a middle-class girl competing against upper-class rich kids. Yeah, I get that. I was the poor girl (and I mean ACTUALLY poor... as in our family lived off the church pantry donated food and wore clothes from the goodwill one dollar rack that never fit. We were kicked from home to home. And, I went to school with insanely wealthy kids. I know what its like to be made fun of for not wearing brand named clothes, or to be told you're too skinny and you need to eat - when you'd give anything for that lunch money.) I'm sorry, but I didn't feel bad one bit for Nell's sob story over how the rich kids would get anything they wanted and she had to work for it. This was a giant Nell pity party + revenge book.

    Let me tell you - she didn't have nothing, but by the way she acted, you would think she did. She didn't have to worry about if she had enough money to eat lunch. She had a home that had air conditioning and heat. She was able to participate in physical activities. She had rich friends who actually genuinely loved her.

    She had SO MUCH PRIVILEGE. So much.

    And her relationship with Jackson? My gosh. She gave him so much shit about not opening up, but when he finally bears his heart to her, she literally BITCHES AT HIM FOR IT lol. Like... girl.... come on. I don't know what Jackson saw in her. Sure, he did some messed up stuff, and maybe this is just my opinion, but she was way worse. Maybe I missed something or misinterpreted something. Idk.

    Yes, girls and boys should be held to the same standard. But I don't have to like Nell. She was just plain mean. If she were a boy, I would feel the same way. I like my fair share of problematic guys and problematic, flawed heroines. I'll admit that. But I found that I could at least relate to them in some way, or feel for them. I just didn't feel for Nell.

    Anyway, lol, like I said, I think a lot of people will like this book. I don't regret reading it and there were some really fun parts and great lines, but blah. I am just mentally exhausted. And a bit angry.

    ~

    ~

    ~

  • Karima chermiti

    This book has many elements that actually crave in YA contemporary books so I should’ve love it. But I did not. I liked it but I did not lose myself in it. I’m really sad about because I thought this will be a new favorite of mine so yeah that sucked but what can I say, we don’t always get what we want.

    But I digress.

    So our two main characters, Nell Becker and Jackson Hart hate each other guts and they don’t shy away from telling the world how they real feel about each other. Nell is a competitiv

    This book has many elements that actually crave in YA contemporary books so I should’ve love it. But I did not. I liked it but I did not lose myself in it. I’m really sad about because I thought this will be a new favorite of mine so yeah that sucked but what can I say, we don’t always get what we want.

    But I digress.

    So our two main characters, Nell Becker and Jackson Hart hate each other guts and they don’t shy away from telling the world how they real feel about each other. Nell is a competitive girl that yearns to be the best at everything she does but no matter how hard she works, Jackson is one step ahead of her which makes her lose her mind and hate more with every passing day.

    Jackson on the other hand lives for the chance to of riling Nell and beating her. They are a match made in hell and when they fall in a whirlwind romance, their feelings will be tested.

    So I can see this book being a popular choice for readers who are fan of enemies to lovers trope and if you really into that then I’ll recommend this book for you because it doesn’t get any better than this. I, myself love the trope and tend to lean about romances that explore it a very intriguing way but with this one something kept me from loving it bit I’ll explain that in more details later because I’d like to start with the positive things about the story.

    First of all, I’d like to say that I really loved how the title and the cover were 100% accurate with the story and the dynamic between the characters so that was cool.

    What I loved about the book was how it was not all about romance even though that was the main plot but it also explored a lot of important themes like toxic relationships and how hard it is to balance our intense feelings between love and obsession, competitive behaviors that makes us strive for unrealistic goals and how that the parental pressure and the yearning to be perfect can turn teenagers into obsessive beings that are willing to hate the people they care about so they can win.

    To be honest, I haven’t read a lot of books that explored the themes within this book so that was something that I really appreciated and the balance between the love story and everything else going on with the two main characters and their relationships with their parents were executed well and made me understand a little bit the characters motivations.

    But there’s a reason I didn’t this book more than three stars and that reason was the nasty things the two main characters did to each other and how toxic they were. I mean some of the things they did made me speechless, I mean these two really need a bloody intervention because they have zero common sense. So they are nasty t each other , I mean that’s something to expect from them, after all they are living in this toxic unhealthy love/hate relationship but what I did not expect was how nasty they were to their friends, especially Nell. She was selfish, self-centered and all she cared about was winning. She was hurting her friends and using them to hurt Jackson and she is so entitled that she is just did see how this could make them feel, like something to be used in a game when they are just innocent bystanders. Jackson did some nasty stuff but I think Nell was the worst of the two.

    I guess it was so much for me with all the lies and the fights and obsessive behaviors that I felt like I was reading something fake. The story just left a bad taste in my mouth but like I said the themes the story explored are really important so I couldn’t hate the book. All I can conclude with is that it wasn’t a good reading experience but the book will still appeal to a lot of readers. For now I’ll leave with this quote that I really loved.

  • Rachael

    Y’all this book was a…… a real mess. I’m trying not to get mad at it but you know what?? I was actually

    to read this and it turned out to be actual crap bag full of white feminism and victim-blaming and a metaphorical landfill. Screw this.

    I feel completely cheated. There is 1 (one) redeeming quality in this book and that is Nell’s character arc but you know what? It doesn’t even really begin until the book is about

    , and then it just seemed rushed and by that point I was just ex

    Y’all this book was a…… a real mess. I’m trying not to get mad at it but you know what?? I was actually

    to read this and it turned out to be actual crap bag full of white feminism and victim-blaming and a metaphorical landfill. Screw this.

    I feel completely cheated. There is 1 (one) redeeming quality in this book and that is Nell’s character arc but you know what? It doesn’t even really begin until the book is about

    , and then it just seemed rushed and by that point I was just extremely capital-D Done, anyway. I feel like I wasted four days of my life reading this, all because I wanted to finish it to see if the problematic issues in it were resolved (haha they

    ).

    Listen,, for a book that was supposed to shoot down slutshaming and be super empowering, there was a

    hidden in between the pages.

    Interesting, Nell, since you spend the ENTIRE NOVEL slutshaming girls and blaming the victims of unhealthy/abusive marriages.

    Let’s start with slutshaming and the “I’m not like other girls” mentality. There’s a scene at the beginning of the novel where Nell and her friends are going to a party, and Nell describes her outfit for the night like this:

    Like,,, dude,,,, why?? Why are you hating on girls just so casually?? This ain't challenged, either!!

    . And then Nell goes on to talk about this girl Tristan.

    And before people come at me saying “but wait!! Nell changed!!” I know Nell’s opinion of TRISTAN changed, but the smack that Nell and her mother talk about “other girls” in general does not. Nell is entirely condescending (calling a girl saying she prefers Jane Austen’s novel “trite” in a sarcastic way), shames another girl for making out with Jackson (not resolved), and straight up

    Jackson’s mother for staying in an abusive relationship. In fact, the rushed resolution of this novel caused for me to not see much of Nell’s personal growth at all.

    Okay. Listen. The victim-blaming that takes place in this novel is entirely non-subtle and I’m surprised that no one else has called it out yet. When Jackson opens up to Nell about his father emotionally abusing and cheating on Jackson’s mom, thiS IS NELL’S FREAKING REPLY AND IT MAKES ME SO VERY

    I mean, you’re kidding me, right? This isn’t real. Lol I wanted to stop reading right then and there but you know what!! I didn’t! Silly me, I thought that this would be an aspect of Nell’s character development, but this issue is literally

    You don’t have the privilege of calling yourself a feminist book if you are going to spout crap like this. Fun fact: a victim of an emotionally abusive relationship isn’t “allowing” themselves to be “disrespected.” In what world is it Jackson’s mom’s fault that her husband is cheating on her? Why is it on her to fix this?? I’m seriously so

    right now that I can barely string my words into coherent thoughts. Like, people legitimately still say crap like this?? I wouldn't be mad if this had been a part of Nell’s character arc but it’s not. It’s literally never mentioned again. I’m so pissed.

    Another thing that really ticked me off about this whole thing was just how incredible white and straight this novel was. The entire book, Nell’s ENTIRE narrative, revolves around the fact that everyone treats Nell differently because she is middle class and a girl. I was getting so freaking

    of hearing Nell whine all the time, and you wanna know why? a) she’s white, b) she’s straight and cis, c) she is going to a

    and pretty much KNOWS that she is going to get a volleyball scholarship to a good school, d) her family isn’t poor. They’re upper-middle class. They just live in a super upper class town so Nell thinks they’re poor.

    And yet the novel makes Nell’s external struggle to be so much more than it actually is. The book only

    acknowledges racism. In one instance, when someone in Jackson’s friend group gets hurt while they are all doing something stupid, Jackson acknowledges his privilege and tells their friend Columbus that he’ll take the fall for him because

    In another instance, Nell’s friend Michonne calls Nell out for her BS by saying,

    . However, these are literally

    . Michonne and Columbus are the only two characters of color inside the entire novel, and have about 20 minutes of combined screen time, tops.

    The writing wasn’t that good either. This book implied nothing. Whenever someone was saying something sarcastic, the exposition popped in with

    Like,,, I know, okay, I wasn’t born yesterday.

    and

    So bottom line is, don’t waste your time on this book. I feel cheated. I want those four days of my life back. It wasn’t worth it.

  • Laurie

    you're probably going to read this book and wonder what's wrong with me and the truth is, I do not know

  • Kelly

    The deeply flawed, competitive, and downright unlikable characters were great. I loved the hate-to-love romance. I'm not a big romance person, but that fire between Nell and Jackson was excellent.

    But the story itself was too long, without much interesting happening. I may have found it more compelling were it not rich white kids in a prep school full of mostly rich white kids. The message about girls can have it all via Nell didn't really come through because of that. Also? All of the shitty pa

    The deeply flawed, competitive, and downright unlikable characters were great. I loved the hate-to-love romance. I'm not a big romance person, but that fire between Nell and Jackson was excellent.

    But the story itself was too long, without much interesting happening. I may have found it more compelling were it not rich white kids in a prep school full of mostly rich white kids. The message about girls can have it all via Nell didn't really come through because of that. Also? All of the shitty parents felt like a distraction away from that very problem of the setting.

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