Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
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.
"This thought-provoking novel blew me away, and I was in the middle before I knew I had begun. The complexity of the world that Rutkoski shapes in The Winner's Curse will keep readers on their toes, begging for more, and will cause them to think about the way that they treat others and the effects their words and actions can have, both temporarily and permanently."
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from another author (as part of a prize pack). This did not, in any way, affect my thoughts in any way, and I was in no way compensated for this review.
Where do I even begin? I honestly didn't even know what hit me when it came to this book. I was expecting to love it a lot and to feel that a lot. Don't get me wrong; I did love this a lot, but there wasn't a concrete moment where it hit me. It's like this snuck up on me and then BAM! I was in love with the book.
One of the reasons why I didn't realize that I loved it until I just did was that while I loved the romance between Kestrel and Arin, there were times when I felt like there was a middle piece that was skipped over. I felt as if they went from hating one another to sort of being friends and then all the way to being in love. I felt like it was a slow build to get them to befriend one another but then it quickly escalated. But that's not to say I didn't love their relationship. I loved their dynamics, and they're both very similar in that they're strategic, witty, cunning, etc. I liked seeing how they viewed one another; one as a Valorian and the other as a Herrani, especially since Kestrel was brought up by a Herrani (sort of).
I enjoyed how this book emphasized that military might isn't enough to succeed. You need to be clever and have a plan. You need to be smart. Military strength isn't better than intelligence. In order to succeed, you need both.
In many ways, this felt like a historical read as well. There were so many parallels between their circumstance and the time around the Civil War in the United States. In many ways, the relationship between the Valorians and Herranis very much reminded me of the relationship between whites and blacks. It was interesting to get a look into both sides of the story, to see how each interpreted the actions of the other.
Though the pace was a bit slow in the beginning, it definitely picked up later in the book. I was completely sucked in. There were turns and twists every which way. I was kept on my toes, trying to figure out when one was lying to another, trying to figure out what their endgame was. I just wanted to keep reading, and I was so immersed in the plot. The Winner's Curse was able to find a balance between being character driven and plot driven. I wasn't disappointed, and I was let going GAHHH I NEED BOOK 2! ;)
The book involves looking into politics, military structure, social etiquette/"the norm," a historical feel, a slow burning romance, twists and turns, betrayal, and so much more. It makes the reader think about how the same principles apply to real life. It certainly made me think about society and the way we treat others, especially during times of war. This thought-provoking novel blew me away, and I was in the middle before I knew I had begun. The complexity of the world that Rutkoski shapes in The Winner's Curse will keep readers on their toes, begging for more, and will cause them to think about the way that they treat others and the effects their words and actions can have, both temporarily and permanently.