Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction

(Quick) Book Review: Win (By Harlan Coben)

Before jumping right into this review, I have to highlight three things:

  1. I have not read any of the Harlan Coben Myron Bolitar series, so Windsor Horne Lockwood III is a brand new character for me.
  2. I have always found Harlan Coben’s work good, but not great, so I pick up his books solely on the intrigue in the blurb. Win has a lot of intrigue in the blurb.
  3. This review is going to be different than the usual way my reviews unfold.

On to the review!

I tried hard to like this book – I really, really did. I absolutely hate giving up on books, persevering in the hope that they will improve at some point. But at 60 pages in and struggling to read more than one chapter at a time, I read a few (rare) negative reviews that said that the mystery isn’t so mysterious, and the titular character doesn’t get any better. I was still holding on and was determined to continue reading the next day. But when the time came, I just couldn’t pick it up.

And so, I finally marked it as DNF and moved on. Below are a few reasons I couldn’t get on board with this book or its titular character. You can check out the blurb for Win here.

  1. Win goes on and on and on and on and on and on some more about himself all the time – about how good he is at mixed martial arts, at kicking people’s asses, at sex, and at everything else. He’s a self proclaimed vigilante who enjoys violence. While the vigilante part was what made the blurb interesting, Win ends up coming across as a sociopath who cares about vigilante justice not because he should help others, but because he can. He does not actually care about the people he’s defending or avenging nor about the consequences of his actions on those very people, as long as the perpetrator got a good beating at his hand. Which made me feel like it was more about his ego than his apparent unique brand of justice.
  2. Other characters are interesting but seem to be part of the story more for Win to come across as socially woke and aware rather than anything other reason, inadvertently (and ironically) becoming plot points in the process.
  3. He literally has to “attempt to seem emotional”. It’s really tough to associate with a character who feels nothing except for arrogance and pride about himself.
  4. The book seems to go nowhere – 60 pages in and all I’d read was how awesome Win thought he was and how he thought he was Batman (his comparison, not mine). While the basic mystery was introduced at some point, it did little to generate curiosity because of it being shared through Win’s egotistical outlook. Consequently, for a book that’s meant to have a mystery and some suspense at its core, it took a really, really long time to get going.
  5. And by the time it did get going, I cared about Win so little that I didn’t care at all about what happened to him or his family. Which is why I ended up giving up. And that is the basic problem with Harlan Coben’s Win – the main character is so unlikeable that you simply don’t care about what happens to him. So why would you read any more?

I know I’m in the minority with my thoughts on this book. But the lack of interest I had in Win by this point and the reviews that said that the mystery wasn’t Coben’s best made the decision for me.

Final Rating: 1 out of 10 stars (I genuinely did not find anything redeeming, but I didn’t finish the book either, so I can’t give it a 0)

All in all, Win by Harlan Coben was a big no-no for me. And it will be a while before I go back to Coben’s books.

If you’re a big fan of Harlan Coben, you may enjoy Win. But if you’re on the fence about his books (or generally dislike characters who come across as gigantic as**s while trying to be ‘super-cool’ or anti-heroes), I’d recommend passing on this one.

Got some thoughts on Win (the character or the book)? Drop a comment below to share it with us. As always, thank you for stopping by and reading my reviews! Coming up next – a review of The Whisper Man by Alex North.

– Rishika



Author and Book Lover

15 thoughts on “(Quick) Book Review: Win (By Harlan Coben)

  1. I completely agree, thought it was just me! I had to check I hadn’t picked up a Christian Grey book. The whole self-absorbed-ness of Win had me rolling my eyes every 5 minutes!

    1. I thought the very same thing, that this book has fifty shades vibes. I was looking up online to see if the book is supposed to be a parody because of the way the main character is written. Looks like that isn’t the case :/ I’m half way through the book and only pushing through for book club.

      1. I get what you mean by fifty shades vibes. If it had been a parody, it would’ve been tolerable. I’m curious to hear what the other members of your book club thought.

  2. Absolutely agree, you picked up on all the right points. What an absolute twonk Win is, I got so mad at least once on each page at how he thought he was better than everyone, could blackmail and bully into getting his way everytime just because he had money. And on top of that he thinks he’s God’s gift and everyone should swoon at his presence. Could not get on board at all. I’ve kept going since I’ve heard good things but I’m 325 pages in and still barely anything has happened. Big sham.

    1. That’s another thing I heard – that it just plods along without really picking up.
      Getting mad at least once every page sounds about right. What a disappointment… It’s going to be a while before I pick up another Harlan Coben.
      Thanks for stopping by and reading this review!

      1. I made it to page 62 and deleted it. At first I thought maybe it was a performance art piece on 70s style vigilante stories I read in my early teens. By page 60, those stories would have advanced the plot a little. I’ve outgrown that genre as everyone should. It was also the first Harlan Coben book I’ve tried to read and may be my last.

      2. I can imagine. And it must be much worse if you’ve not read his work before – definitely not a good book to start. Although, in all honesty, I’ve not found his work phenomenal. I’ve read a few – they’re good, but nothing exceptional. I normally rely on the blurbs to decide whether to pick up any of his books, sticking to ones that are really intriguing.

  3. I can’t agree more,I got to 192 after putting the book down a couple of times,where he’s interrogating professor Ian Cornwell I’m not kidding you I felt like killing Win so I closed the book on him. I don’t know yet but maybe at a later date I’ll open the book and revive him.

    1. Kudos to you for getting that far – I definitely couldn’t. Given how many people are finding the book and character so annoying, I’m always surprised at the high ratings on Goodreads.

  4. I have read so much that I resolved to read Harlan Coben on recommendations. I think he’s a decent writer to hold my attention to a degree, but this man does not know how to end a book. I detest when in the last 20 pages the author reveals the killer who was never an integral part of the narrative i the previous 300 pages. The culprit makes no sense and as a reader you can’t get there based on what you’ve been reading. John Sandford and Mike Lawson are excellent if I’ve read all their stuff. I’ve wanted to think more highly of Coben but I end up angry when I finish his books.

    1. I’ve not read too much of Coben’s work, and my reason is not dissimilar. I always find his ending very anticlimactic. I’m glad you found some of this book entertaining though. I just couldn’t unfortunately.
      Thanks for your comment and for reading this review! 🙂

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