Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Source: A copy was provided by Macmillan for review.
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.
Surprisingly, I had little to no expectations for this book. I’d seen the cover around and fallen in love with it at first sight, but I never really knew what the novel was about, probably because I skimmed through the synopsis. It was a ‘read now’ on Netgalley for a while though, and I just had to get the ARC everyone was talking about. Two reviews I read stuck in my mind, one praising the book with 5 hot expressos (Jenni @ Xpresso Reads) and one not quite loving it (Giselle @ Book Nerd). As soon as I started reading, however, my mind was blown and everything around me – including my manyupcoming tests – fell away.
Kestrel is everything I could want in a main character. She’s beautiful, intellectual, humble, and uniquely privileged. She also doesn’t exactly believe that slaves are property; she actually cares for them, some more than others. She’d also rather play the piano that fight, which is independent of many heroines featured in today’s popular novels. Beauty and smarts, what more could a girl want, right? And Arin. Don’t even get me started on him. He was just perfect! He had that perfect combination of stoic unforgiving ness and thoughtful protector. In short, that boy was HOT! And it helped that even as a slave he had that certain regal bearing that Kestrel (and I!) seemed to crave.
As a fan of Disney, I can’t even begin to tell you how giddy I was when certain parts of the novel began resembling Disney films. Whenever I think of ‘The Winner’s Curse’, I also think of ‘Mulan 2’. There was just something about the end that resembled the movie, but unlike ‘Mulan‘, the ending wasn’t resolved. If I could have any book in the world at this moment, I’d want the sequel to this.
The world-building was amazing, although even after reading I’m not exactly sure if this is historical fiction, dystopia, or a combination of both. All I know for sure is that this book was beautiful and anyone who disagrees is crazy! I’d be surprised if I find a better book than this within the year. This is a beautiful yet complicated romance between two teens on opposite sides in both conflict and class, and I believe all fans of fantasy will enjoy the novel. And if you don’t? Well, then there isn’t much to say, is there? Kidding. Sort of…