Book Review: The Winner’s Curse

Book Review: The Winner’s CurseThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Macmillan on March 4, 2014
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Winning is just the beginning. The hard part comes after.

Kestrel, our main character, lives a life of luxury. She does what she pleases, and answers to no one… save her father the General. And the General has given her a choice: get married or follow in the family business: the military. There is only one problem, well maybe two. Kestrel is not a fighter, and the idea of marriage really doesn’t appeal to her. What’s other choices are left? Hmm.. well, there is always rebelling.

While Kestrel doesn’t rebel in the typical fashion, she, however, breaks away from the norms in her own way. There is a lot I could say about Kestrel. Some of it positive. Some of it negative. At the end of the day, I have to say Kestrel and her facets work. She may not be the strongest female lead, but what she lacks she makes up for in other areas. Most importantly, Kestrel is a girl who owns up to her flaws. As compared to other ‘tough’ female characters I have come across in the past, who are represented as the be all, end all of hard, tough female leads, Kestrel already knows her faults, and never apologizes for them. Being a bad fighter? Yep, that is her, but she know it. She doesn’t play off that she is a bad ass. No, she freely admits that she is a crappy fighter, and instead lets another strength, such as strategy, take over. Love it!

As for a our male love interest, Arin, he has the potential to be a great character. However, I am not sure he has had his moment yet. In a few ways, The Winner’s Curse was Kestrel’s book. Her story. Her time to shine. With Arin, it sometimes felt like he was just lovely background music. He is there, you get to know him, feel horrible about his background and history, you root for him in a strange way, but really there wasn’t too much else… besides maybe the romance. I am not sure what the future installments hold, but I feel like Arin’s time to shine has not happened yet. Which is a good thing.

World building and everything else.

In any half way decent fantasy read, world building is key. You have to have it. Period. It can make or break a read. Fortunately for The Winner’s Curse, the world building was spot on. From basic customs to history, and everything in between The Winner’s Curse has you covered. I am in awe of how perfectly explored it all was.

The title. I am not one to really fall in love with book titles or sometimes even the meaning behind the title. However, I am making an exception this time. The Winner’s Curse has one of the best underlying concepts I have ever seen. One that I cannot get out of my head. It is brilliant and plays a part through out the book, often in ways that I never saw coming.

Final Verdict:

The Winner’s Curse is hands down the best read I have come across in a while. Full bodied, engaging, the total package from beginning to end. It is a must read for 2014, no doubt about it. Bravo!


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