The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Synopsis: “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.”
Review: I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this book. I really liked multiple aspects of it, but I vehemently HATE the romance between Kestrel and Arin. I feel like it absolutely ruined a lot of the good things I felt about this book right after reading it.
To start off with the good things before I get into a rant about the romance, I really enjoyed Rutkoski’s writing style. It was expressive and quite beautiful at times. Rutkoski had the perfect balance of show and tell.
To say that the plot was great is simply not enough. The plot was utterly exhilarating. I read The Winner’s Curse in one sitting because I was constantly on the edge of my chair (well bed) waiting to see how everything would work out. I was surprised with a couple of twists and absolutely loved it! One down side I had with the plot was that a big portion of the back half was pure action and for some reason I found myself either bored with redundancy or trying to rush back to what was happening with Kestrel with some parts of the near-constant action towards the end. That being said, I’m a person who likes action, but not really an in depth view of the fighting for long lengths of time.
I am completely in awe of how well-developed Kestrel was by the end. Rutkoski really blew me away by the fantastic character development. Kestrel was almost completely different by the end, in a good way. She possessed all of her previous positive qualities, but times 10. She also gained other great traits and will probably have more flaws develop as the series continues because it would be boring if she was perfect. I can’t express how much I want to meet Rutkoski, shake her hand, and tell her what a fantastic job she did with Kestrel.
I liked the friendships in the book, despite HOW TERRIBLE A FRIEND KESTREL WAS. I thought they were an accurate representation of some of the close friendships that I have.
*****SPOILERS ARE BELOW***** YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
I know y’all are all wondering how I could possibly have given 3 Stars to this book when I can’t stop raving about it. Here’s what really ruined this book for me: the romance. I can’t stand it. At all. It was horrid. Not that the romance was written terrible or anything. It was just that I can not possibly be persuaded to understand how in the heck Kestrel would still love Arin when he literally CAUSES the deaths of almost everyone she knows and the destruction of her country. It is unfathomable to me how she can even look him in the eye when he almost killed her best friend. I don’t get how she gets over her hate for him so fast and actually makes a deal to SAVE the bastard’s life. Basically, I just hate Arin and Kestrel’s love for him that I will NEVER understand.
Overall, I really loved The Winner’s Curse, but was so put off by the romance that I couldn’t like it as much as I wanted.