Of the recurring aspects of Cory's writing my favourite is his consistent use of consequence. In his young adult work it would be easy to steer this directly into moralizing. Thankfully, that's not the case. Consequences are frequent and frequently violent but (largely) not made with any judgment as to their value. They are the potential consequence of the fight for anything worth fighting for. A reflection of reality.
For The Win offers consequence up handily. It's an important and bloody reflection of a story that's already been told. One that is important to retell in a context accessible to those that may not be interested otherwise. The blending of elements and social structures very foreign to western sensibilities into that story is further impressive. Exposure and education isn't always easy to provide without preaching.
The scope of the cast is where I lost a bit of footing. While there's not a remarkably large list of primary characters it's wide enough that I never felt connected to any of them. When consequences arrive they feel very real but the characters suffering or sacrificing do not. That made the type of emotional connection I had with Makers or Little Brother, both very focused on a small cast of primary characters, impossible to conjure.
There are inklings of an interesting plot in here that never really come to fruition. There are hinted at possibilities and the world occasionally comes crashing in but that's where it ends. The title spells out what this entire book is about. Readers approaching this should bear that in mind. The relationship stars directly up front and the book suffers for it. The more plot minded will reach the final page and likely wonder what happened to the proper ending. It more stops than reaches a completion point, the byproduct of a tenuous plot.
I enjoyed this book but I have little to say beyond that. The spiral of self destruction seems so absolute and inescapable that it's hard to really put any emotional investment in to the main character.
It's solid enough that it maintained my attention and, in moments, had me looking forward to reading more. Having completed the book I found myself nearly completely apathetic toward the entire story. I don't regret reading through to the end but I really don't foresee going back to examine the book in detail. I don't imagine I'll find anything new. Nothing I'm going to like anyway.
This is a very quick read that is both endearing and inspiring. A lot of well tested and sound advice for runners. The various anecdotes are related with humour; sometimes at the situation, sometimes at the expense of the author, and sometimes at life itself. It's a very engaging page turner that I had difficulty putting down.