The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
By Marie Rutkoski
Summary: 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.
Source: I purchased a kindle copy.
The Winner’s Curse has been on my TBR for awhile. I vaguely remember the hype when it came out and then, more recently, the hype when the finale released. I am glad I waited to read it because I didn’t have any expectations at this point and just wanted an entertaining story to engage me and not feel like work to trudge through. The Winner’s Curse was exactly what I needed and I enjoyed it.
Kestrel was a likable character because she was different. She was not a rule follower and the fact that her father was a general allowed her a little more freedom to be more of herself. She played instruments and went around without an escort despite the society frowning upon it. She had great instincts and was good at strategizing, even giving her father tips when she felt so inclined. She ended up purchasing a slave at an auction without really understanding why. She wasn’t the type to take advantage of her station and participate in the slave trade, but she couldn’t help herself.
It could’ve been a love story and I suppose in some ways it was, but not in the way I expected. It was like she noticed the slave’s defiance and craved that as someone who also considered herself defiant. She wanted someone who understood her, I think. And he did, but he had some motives of his own. I feel like they had a mutual respect that neither one wanted to acknowledge too much and I don’t know if it’s really love so much as respect and attraction, but I’m intrigued to see where the story will go after the events that took place in this first book. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but I was glad that it wasn’t centered completely on Kestrel and her feelings for a slave and dealt with outside plots and forces, too.
I don’t think the book is without flaws, though. The romance, if you can call it that, seemed a bit rushed, but maybe that’s because I don’t really think they love each other and I think they have a respect and wariness about the other that creates a sort of push and pull. It was good tension, but I’m not completely sold on the relationship. I also think it rushed what takes years or even decades to happen in societies. I don’t want to give too many details away, but the events, while plausible, would not happen overnight and literally do in the book. That’s not how revolutions or wars work in short spans of time, though the things that happen would totally happen over a longer length of time. I don’t understand why the events are so rushed, but it kind if makes the whole book seem a lot less plausible as a whole. I have to believe there’s a reason for the rushed events because the author has some places she needs to put the characters in order to formulate her grand story, so since it’s the first book, I’ll cut it some slack and continue reading.
I am concerned about a triangle, though, but I haven’t read the synopsis of book two, so I might be way off.
Overall, the book was entertaining and I finished it quickly, so it did exactly what I needed it to do. I’m back on my reading wagon where I don’t spend days on the same paragraph of whatever book I’m trying to finish, and that’s what I needed. I recommend the book, but only as long as you’re not expecting it to be the next earth shattering YA novel. It’s.. it’s just not quite there yet.