The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Curse #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Historical, Dystopia
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straux Giroux
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.
First Sentence: She shouldn’t have been tempted.
First of all, before I start my review, I want to thank Jon from Scott Reads It for lending me his gorgeous ARC of The Winner’s Curse! I had an eARC from NetGalley before Jon lent me his physical ARC, but I didn’t have an eReader (and still don’t) so I was going to read the eARC of The Winner’s Curse on my computer (yes, I was that excited for it) until Jon saved me by lending me his physical ARC. Now, excuse me while I stare at the gorgeous cover some more…
Anyways, I’m sure as many of you guys will agree, I was dying to get my hands on The Winner’s Curse; who wasn’t? I’ve seen so many lucky people get their hands on it, read it, loved it, and fangirled all over it, making me want to read it myself and see what the hype was all about. Thank goodness Jon lent me his ARC!
The Winner’s Curse started off slowly paced for the first half of the book or so; it took awhile for things to really start. However, the first half of The Winner’s Curse had an important purpose: it introduced us to the characters, let us get to know them, and slowly built up the romance between the two main characters, Kestrel and Arin. The first half of The Winner’s Curse also introduced us to most of the world-building and all the social class conflicts, helping us understand the world of The Winner’s Curse better.
She could make him. If she sent an order, he would obey.
But she didn’t want his obedience. She wanted him to want to see her. (ARC 175)
Something I did not expect from the The Winner’s Curse was that the book was told from both Kestrel and Arin’s points of view. Most of the young adult books I read nowadays only have one narrator, which is usually a female narrator, not a male one. The summary of The Winner’s Curse also made me think that we will only read The Winner’s Curse from only Kestrel’s point of view, but alas, we did not. We get to see inside both Kestrel and Arin’s minds. I am happy about that since we get to see what Arin is thinking about during certain events and not be tortured, wondering what on earth is going on inside that guy’s mind when so and so happened.
The Winner’s Curse is made out of feels. I don’t know how else to describe it – every single page (except for the first one-third of the book or so) is made out of feels. I felt for Arin’s situation and hurt for him, but on the other hand, I also felt for Kestrel’s situation and understood her anger. One moment I was angry at one particular character and in the next moment, I felt dreadfully sad for them. The Winner’s Curse just constantly plays with all my emotions, toying with me like I was a kitten reaching for a ball of yarn constantly dangling just three inches away from me. I highly recommend you guys to watch out for the brutal ending – it tore all my feels apart and shattered it into dust.
Impossible. It was impossible to love a Valorian and also love his people.
Arin was the flaw. (ARC 237)
Unlike other books that I am currently thinking of that promised us something but did not deliver (innocently coughs), The Winner’s Curse delivered exactly what it promised. The Winner’s Curse promised us political power shifts, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, spies, forbidden love, and boy, did it deliver. It is everything it promises to be with no disappointments coming from that area.
Despite all the good parts of The Winner’s Curse, I did have this one problem with it. Just like my experience with Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, I felt like something was missing from The Winner’s Curse. After I finished reading The Winner’s Curse, I thought about it for two days, feeling…a bit empty I guess? I just knew that something was missing from The Winner’s Curse, but I didn’t know what. It might just be me, but who knows?
Why shouldn’t she go to the ball? What had she to fear?
Let them stare. She was not defenseless, nor did she need her father’s protection, or the captain’s. (ARC 193)
Overall, does The Winner’s Curse deserve the hype it gets? After some thinking, I’ll say that yes, The Winner’s Curse does deserve the hype it gets. That’s why I’m urging you to go out and get yourself a copy, whether you have to borrow it, buy it, or even steal it (you didn’t hear about the last part from me if anyone asks), if you haven’t already. What are you waiting for? (That’s the cue for me to leave and stare at the gorgeous cover some more.)