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 somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
Winner Take All Review
- January 1, 1970Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink2.5 stars. 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 thin 2.5 stars. 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...Blah. Listen - I get it. I get that men and women are not held to the same standards a lot of the time. I know that women often have to apologize for things that men don't. 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.My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsymore
- January 1, 1970Laurieyou're probably going to read this book and wonder what's wrong with me and the truth is, I do not know
- January 1, 1970CourtneyI went on a little tweet spree about this book. I want the world to read it.https://twitter.com/courtney_s/status...
- January 1, 1970julianna ➹This whole book is a freaking metaphor and I loved it. Throughout the first 30% of this book I was kind of doubting Laurie Devore's magic but... haha. no. SHE IS MAGICAL, IT IS CONFIRMED.This book outlines the differences between how girls and boys are treated in society, and... it was infuriating to read. I got seriously pissed at like, 70% of the school for being like this and then I also thought about how I am technically, like this even just a little, even though I don't want to be? Because This whole book is a freaking metaphor and I loved it. Throughout the first 30% of this book I was kind of doubting Laurie Devore's magic but... haha. no. SHE IS MAGICAL, IT IS CONFIRMED.This book outlines the differences between how girls and boys are treated in society, and... it was infuriating to read. I got seriously pissed at like, 70% of the school for being like this and then I also thought about how I am technically, like this even just a little, even though I don't want to be? Because of the environment I live in, I am always going to have ingrained sexism and racism (and other forms of prejudice, I'm sure) in my mind. And it sucks.Anyways! This book was a harsh light on society and also a heartbreaking love story and also just a general mess. But I still loved the mess? Nell is a rude, smart, hard-working girl. And Jackson is smart, yes, but he hardly works and gets so much more than Nell does. Teachers praise him for nonsensical theories that he didn't even work hard for, and they dismiss Nell because she is a girl.There's so much character development and growth for Nell as she kind of goes through three or four stages of herself and it's so interesting to watch. This is like one of those dramas where you want to grab popcorn (I KNOW IT'S CLICHE) and watch, but this is a freaking book so you can't oops.Nell is such a strong, strong, freaking annoying character. Where is that meme where someone goes, "GIRLLLLLLL DON'T DO IT" because that meme was me @ Nell 110% of the time. Why does she make such bad life choices and why can I relate to her. Whyyyy. But I still loved and rooted for Nell to grow. Which, ultimately, is the most important. Nell is kind of an anti-hero in the sense of how horrible she is during this book.I feel like Laurie is just that author where the beginning of the book is very, very mellow and low-key but she slowly turns everything up so at the end of the book you're exactly this meme:(Why am I mentioning memes so many times in this review what is wrong with me.)Furthermore, Nell has anxiety and depression. She is suffering through so much and has learned to just shut all of her emotions down and throughout this book, she has anxiety attacks. Laurie actually included a paragraph about this and a bunch of links about mental illness, which I think is wonderful.Anyways, I think you should read this book. And also Laurie Devore's other book, How to Break a Boy. You're welcome.more
- January 1, 1970RachaelY’all this book was a…… a real mess. I’m trying not to get mad at it but you know what?? I was actually excited 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 jipped. 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 75% over, and then it just seemed rushed and by that point I was just ext 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 excited 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 jipped. 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 75% over, 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 weren’t). Listen,, for a book that was supposed to shoot down slutshaming and be super empowering, there was a surprising amount of girl hate hidden in between the pages. ”Boys get to have it all. Girls are either sluts or saints.” 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: ”I have on a tasteful sundress and a headband holding my auburn hair in place, understated, unlike what some of the other girls showed up in.” Like,,, dude,,,, why?? Why are you hating on girls just so casually?? This ain't challenged, either!! Side note: I swear the word auburn is used to describe Nell’s hair like ten times throughout the novel and there are literally no other adjectives used to describe it and I’m just like ok we get it your hair is flippin auburn and it's integral to your personality lol. And then Nell goes on to talk about this girl Tristan. ”I know Tristan Kaye, but not well. She’s the kind of girl who comes with a reputation and a hell of a lot of baggage. [sic] Mostly I know that Tristan Kaye is not the kind of girl I’d ever want to be.” 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 victim blames 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. (view spoiler)[ The two things that Nell REALLY changed about herself were this: No more slutshaming Tristan, and taking care of her mental health while learning to be a better friend. All the other issues I had? Not resolved. Not that those two things are unimportant or don’t matter, but it would have been nice to see some bigger changes too. (hide spoiler)]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 ANGRY THAT THIS CRAP EXISTS I LITERALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND: ”’She allows herself to be disrespected by some, some’—I search around as if for a word bad enough, and then one comes to me, as if from the sky—‘dickhead. And that’s why she gets treated like s**t.’” 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 never resolved. 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 angry 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 tired 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 private school 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. This was like when you hear about those studies where the 1% think that the average American family makes 200k a year. You know how we all thought that that was entirely fake and the rich people are idiots? Nell and her folks are that supposedly average American family.And yet the novels makes Nell’s external struggle to be so much more than it actually is. The book only very briefly 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 ”’Columbus’s mom is the district solicitor, and he’s a black athlete from a rich family. If the cops find him, he’s f*****g done for. Get the hell out of here.’” In another instance, Nell’s friend Michonne calls Nell out for her BS by saying, ”’You think you’re the only one at this school who has to protect herself? Me—I’m not straight. I’m not white. Money doesn’t fix everything.’”. However, these are literally the only two instances where the book acknowledges white privilege. Michonne and Columbus are the only two poc characters inside the entire novel, and have about 20 minutes of combined screen time, tops. And not only that, but the book also kind of takes the phrase “you will have to be twice as good as them to get half as much,” (a phrase often used to show how systematic racism makes it harder for black people to be successful in an America where white people have so much privilege) and applies it to Nell. A white person. This occurs twice, and though the book doesn’t use the exact wording, the message is the same. Once, when Nell’s mother tells her, ”’You’ll have to work harder than them to get what they’ll get,’” and another time when Nell’s friend Lia says, about her own upper class privilege, “’We get twice as much for half the work because I was born into this family.’” I mean, come on. Not sure if this was done on purpose but either way, not okay!! This is absolutely ridiculous. Nell has so much privilege and the book barely even acknowledges it. The writing wasn’t that good either. This book implied nothing. Whenever someone was saying something sarcastic, the exposition popped in with in case you couldn’t tell, this is sarcasm. I meant the opposite of what I said. Like,,, I know, okay, I wasn’t born yesterday. ”She’d been latched onto Jackson like a parasite for the past three months. ‘Can’t believe that didn’t work out,’ I say, like I absolutely can believe that.” and ”Jackson laughs at that, and I watch the lines of his face, the way he doesn’t think it’s funny at all.” 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.more
- January 1, 1970alice (arctic books)DNF at page 57. I was excited to read this book at first because I love competition-like books that end in romance. However, it wasn't what I expected and just felt a bit.... preppy and mediocre. It's strange to have those two words in the same phrase, but this one didn't capture me as much as I hoped it would. Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.more
- January 1, 1970Rachel (APCB Reviews)This one missed the mark for me. Full review to come.
- January 1, 1970Rachel WritesThingsI am legit obsessed with this book. Also my boyfriend (well er fictionally) exists in this one.
- January 1, 1970Chrissie MorrisonNell has always been an overachiever. Whether training hard so her team could advance to and win the state volleyball championship or studying hard to become her class valedictorian, Nell has always given her all. And that was why she couldn't stand Jackson Hart. He never seemed to try nearly as hard, but he always got what he wanted. Jackson was the captain of his baseball team, one of the most popular guys at school, AND he was beating her by a fraction of a percentage in the class ranking Nell has always been an overachiever. Whether training hard so her team could advance to and win the state volleyball championship or studying hard to become her class valedictorian, Nell has always given her all. And that was why she couldn't stand Jackson Hart. He never seemed to try nearly as hard, but he always got what he wanted. Jackson was the captain of his baseball team, one of the most popular guys at school, AND he was beating her by a fraction of a percentage in the class rankings. Not only that, but Jackson came from money, and she only attended their elite prep school because her mother was the principal. Talk about opposites! But, as the saying goes, opposites attract. Nell had always been frustrated by the fact that no one else could seem to see past his charming exterior to recognize the slime ball that he was inside. Until even she started to fall for his charms. And she fell hard... But then she began to suspect that their relationship might be just another of Jackson's games. And, if it *was* a game, Nell was determined to win.This book was a great read on so many levels. It touched on honesty -- between friends, between family members, and with one's own self. It addressed what can happen when competition is taken beyond a healthy level. And it explored how perfectionism and toxic relationships (familial and dating) can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. This is definitely a book you'll want to add to your #ToBeRead list so you can be sure to check it out when it's released at the end of January.more
- January 1, 1970Rachel ReevesThank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. While reading this book, I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. I found myself not really liking the main character, Nell, yet I did like the male lead, Jackson. Nell is complex and interesting, but she is not someone I would ever be friends with. Jackson I found personable and entertaining despite his flaws, and I grew to like him more and more as the story went along and more about him was Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. While reading this book, I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. I found myself not really liking the main character, Nell, yet I did like the male lead, Jackson. Nell is complex and interesting, but she is not someone I would ever be friends with. Jackson I found personable and entertaining despite his flaws, and I grew to like him more and more as the story went along and more about him was revealed. I liked what the author was aiming at with the book and felt she did a great job of exploring the drive for perfection and how strong girls are perceived when they aren't lady-like in their pursuit for success. The hatemance was a fun aspect to the story, and I enjoyed the relationship between Nell and Jackson, despite how screwed up it was at times. Devore does very well with writing complicated girls, and it's a book I would recommend.more
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