Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy (Book 1)
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance, War
Publication: 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.
I was going back and forth between 4 and 1/2 stars or 5 stars with this novel, but ultimately boosted it up to 5 stars because I really, really enjoyed reading it.
I absolutely adored the characters in this novel. I think this fantasy book is very character driven (even though the plot is amazing too), and the characters by themselves are wonderful. I love Kestrel’s intelligence and spunkiness, and I adored how she was an amazing, strong female protagonist without having to devalue her “beauty” or “femininity”. I loved that she could kickass and look fine at the same time. Arin is also equally amazing. He’s a wonderful character who is actually complex, and an awesome love interest for Kestrel. While individually the characters are great, their dynamic together is even more spectacular. Also, I loved the novel even more because Kestrel has an awesome female friendship with Jess.
The only thing that the book might be lacking in compared to other fantasy novels is world building, but I actually thought the amount of world building worked really well in this novel. We got a lot of the different cultures in this book, and there were hints of a lot more to come in future novels. I think it worked well with the plot of the novel, so the world building did not feel like info-dumping. I also loved the political intrigue and the strategizing in this book. (I know a lot of people criticize Red Rising by Pierce Brown for all the war strategies, but this book has the perfect balance!)
The plot is also amazing! The twists and turns and different dynamics always kept me on my toes, and I found it very, very hard to put this book down. I thoroughly enjoyed all the events that occurred and even if my heart broke in some scenes, I still love them!
I recommend this book 100% to anyone who loves YA, who may be new to fantasy or is a fantasy junkie, who loves a good romance, or just anyone in general!
I can’t wait to pick up The Winner’s Crime (especially after that ending…), but I don’t want to wait until March for the third book.
What did you all think of this novel? If you haven’t read it, do you think you might pick it up?