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.
I’ve actually done quite a lot of stalling for this review. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say, it’s that I don’t exactly know how to explain this book. It’s amazing. It has everything I love in characters, and- like I said in my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses– sometimes book hype is purely surprising.
Kestrel (love her name, by the way, and especially adore the reason behind it) and Arin are thoughtful people. They analyze every move of the people around them. To me, this was fascinating and thrilling, but to others I’d imagine it was just a long list of hullabaloo. I guess I’m pleased to find myself wrong in this case; so many people love this book! And these thought-out, calculating personalities were my favorite part of The Winner’s Curse.
For that alone, this one is totally re-readable.
But other than that, nothing much interesting happens until the end. As much as I enjoy the thought processes of the characters, there’s only so much contemplating others we can do before the whole world starts to seem a little too small. Also, a big BIG pet peeve of mine- Kestrel’s best friend was exactly the same as every book best friend. Ever. Flirty and boy-obsessed, knowing everything about fashion and nothing about boring things like arts or intellect, and completely naive and helpless when the real shiz goes down. Seriously, why is every book girl friends with someone like this? I could name literally twenty right now. In real life, there’s no way these two would be friends. Kestrel doesn’t even really enjoy spending time with her! Ugh!
But she was only a small part of the book and it would be unfair to rate books horribly because all authors should just know I’m going to hate their plot-device best friend figures.
Overall, The Winner’s Curse and an interesting and thoughtful read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for clever characters and a moral conflict.