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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

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Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Totally a Winner)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Trilogy #1
Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Reviewer: Sophia

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.

You never know what kinds of books you'll find when you take your time at the library.

The Winner's Curse, to say the least, is perhaps one of the best, if not the best, book I've read so far in 2015. The characters, the writing, the world, the plot – I loved it all (or most of it, but technically it's still all of it).

Kestrel may be one of my favorite characters – I just love how she resists (flouting them may be more accurate) her father's and society's rules, values, and expectations throughout the entire book, and even how she resists being bossed around by Cheat near the end.
"If a woman can fight and die for the empire, why can't a woman walk alone?"
Frankly, it's fantastic. It's fantastic how she doesn't really care too much about what society thinks of her relationship with Arin, despite the fact the rumors weren't true at the time. And it's even more fantastic how loyal Jess and Ronan are to Kestrel – they stick around even while Kestrel's reputation is obviously going down the drain with each action she takes that society looks down upon (though Ronan may be questionable).
"It doesn't matter what they think. Dance with me."
Then there's the writing – it's beautiful. The parallel structure the author uses occasionally throughout seems almost poetic, or if not poetic, then there seems to be a rhythm every so often.
She would have stopped him. She would have wished herself deaf, blind, made of unfeeling smoke. She would have stopped his words out of terror, longing.
I'm also not typically a fan of authors revealing what really happens through another character (while another character hears differently), but with The Winner's Curse, I find I rather enjoy Rutkoski revealing what really happens through Arin while Kestrel hears something else. Perhaps it's just the character itself, as Arin is an intriguing character and seems to have an air of mystery about him right when he is first sold to Kestrel – the author reveals that there's something up with him, but is vague enough not to give too much away.

The ending to The Winner's Curse is full of tension – with the second book already released or being released soon, I really want to read the next book, in hopes the sequel is as wonderfully written and unpredictable as the first to the Winner's Trilogy is.

5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.