Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication date: 3rd July 2014
My rating: 4 stars.  


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.

“My Soul is yours”... “You know that it is” 

After reading several glowing reviews for this book I was expecting to read a gorgeous story, normally when I have high expectations going into a book, the book never usually lives up to them. So I was glad for once that The Winner’s Curse delivered everything I was hoping and so much more. 

Rutkoski really outdone herself in creating such a complex and elegant world in The Winner’s Curse, there was enough detail to make this world truly believable, but also not so much to overwhelm you with too much detail. We are first introduced to our two main characters Arin and Kestrel at an auction. Arin is the slave up for action and Kestrel not intending to make a purchase ends up leaving with a slave worth more than the money in her purse. Not that money is an issue, being the General Trajan’s daughter. But Arin is a blacksmith (rare to find these days) so she knows despite her outrageous bid, her father shouldn’t be too displeased with her buy. With this significant divide (Arin being the slave and Kestrel his owner, you would think that this would be reason enough for these two characters to loathe one another, but Arin was a Herrani and Kestrel a Valorian and the bad history could be dated back to ages ago. The last war had given the Valorian control, but the grudge between the two had not been easily forgotten. However this is one of the reasons that I adored Kestrel, despite being the general’s daughter, she wasn’t quick to take her place that was required by her (be married or join the military) she was never a good fighter, she knew the stuff she needed if anything ever happened, but she preferred playing her piano and underneath her beauty she really was an intelligent individual. Intelligent that she didn’t make judgements about Arin, or even listen to the gossip, that was going on about her. 

The interactions between Arin and Kestrel were slow but steady going, but I truly appreciated the way Rutkoski weaved their relationship into the story. Both Arin and Kestrel weren’t immediately trustworthy with each other and their feelings didn’t appear immediately, but appeared to bloom slowly like a flower until it was tugging at my heart strings. But for some reason at the beginning I wasn’t a huge fan of this relationship, this may have been largely because I sort of viewed Arin as a boy, he was two years older than Kestrel, but some of his actions hadn’t really had me convinced that he was mature enough. I don’t even think that is the right word. But after one of the major things that happened halfway through which forced Arin to behave differently, this character which came through some may not have liked, but I liked the growth that he went through. For me he truly went on and became the man I was hoping he would be from the beginning. 

The Winner’s Curse overall was a gorgeous read, but I much preferred the second half, there was more chaos, destruction, secrets, heartbreak and scheming going on. Rutkoski really knew how to mix this up really well, despite so much going on, I found myself fully invested in this story. Also like Kestrel I found myself torn about how I wanted things to go, it was so hard with some of the decisions she had to make (at points she reminded me of Celaena and what she had to deal with in Crown of Midnight). There was also lot of heart crushing in the second half, but this did definitely help me form a strong emotional attachment with the characters. Overall The Winner’s Curse was an absolutely gorgeous read, Rutkoski covered so many different elements that it’s a sure book that would appeal to all kinds of readers. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book and what Rutkoski will put us through next.



27 comments:

  1. I felt the same way about this, I was so worried it would not live up to the hype but it was really, really good! I loved Arin, I was so impressed with his behaviour. And like you and Kestral, it was hard to know what I wanted to happen, she made some hard decisions, that's for sure!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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  2. I felt the exact same way as you did about this book, Jasprit. I was worried about the hype, but it was really good. I also did think the second half was much much better than the first half and I'm curious to see how things will continue in the next book because I was pretty devastated by the end of this one. Great review, Jasprit!

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  3. I really need to read this one. I have high expectations for it too and am glad so many people say it has lived up to them :)

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  4. I've only glimpsed at your review Jasprit as this is soon to be my next read. I've seen so many positive reviews for this book. Usually I don't read very many hyped books like you as I'm kind of apprehensive about starting it. But I think I'm going to really enjoy this one... Brilliant review.

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  5. This is probably the gazillionth positive review for this I've seen, Jasprit. Yet I'm still hesitant to pick it up...I think it's because I'm scared that it won't live up the hype. Still, I did find the authors previous book to be fun, so I am determined to give it a go at some point.

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  6. The first half didn't capture me quite as much as the second, either, but the whole book totally lived up to the hype (yay!!).

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  7. Aw, yay! Amazing review sweetie. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this book. Though four stars, so you didn't fully love it? Aw, I'm sorry. But I am glad you liked it :D I loved the romance so much. <3 Sigh. And ohh. I also really loved Arin in the second half :) I just love his whole character. Sigh. This book is full of heartbreak, though. I cannot wait for the sequel :) Thank you for sharing. <3

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  8. I definitely agree about the second half being much more interesting and eventful than the first, Jasprit, but I'm SO glad to see you really liked this book overall, too! I enjoyed it a lot, and I can't wait to see what's next! Lovely review :)

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  9. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the slow build :) I can't wait to see it. Also, I fel liket his world is so awesome and twisted and that's already without reading the book. I'm also glad that Kestrel is a character that isn't good in physical activities (well, fighting), but rather an intelligent individual :D and yay for massive character growth for Arin :) I so can't wait to read this one and I'm really happy that you enjoyed, love!

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  10. I think everyone enjoyed the second half far more than the first half EXCEPT me! I loved the first half of this one but the second half seemed to slow down in pace which made me feel disconnected from the story, for some reason. Still, I loved the world-building and the slow relationship build-up here was amazingly written. Wonderful review, Jasprit - I'm so glad this worked out for you! :)

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  11. Despite my not giving this over 4 stars, I do am glad you loved this one, Jasprit. I do agree with the very well-written romance. It was slow, it was steady, and it was such a tease - but in a good way. You really feel that their feelings for each other were well-justified and not something that just happened in a blink of an eye. The slow burn was just perfect. And yeah, Arin did a lot of stupid things that I thought were ridiculous for someone spearheading a revolution, but well, we all make mistakes I guess ;P Great review!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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  12. Glad this one lived up to the hype for you. It really is a beautifully written story! I love how you described Kestrel & Arin's relationship as a blooming flower, such a great analogy. The first half was definitely slower than the 2nd half but I enjoyed them both the same =) Great review!

    Amanda @ Born Bookish

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  13. I really just need to drop everything and read this, like you I worry that my expectations are too high but you remarked a couple of times that it was a gorgeous read, so I am sure it will appeal to me.

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  14. I loved this book! I completely agree with how you described it as a gorgeous read. I am highly anticipating the next book in the series!

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  15. that's great you really liked this one. I keep reading great reviews of it too, which has me quite interested!

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  16. I'm happy to see your high expectations were met, Jasprit. The Winner's Curse really does look like a great story!

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  17. oh yes! I loved that one, it was a really great discovery and I didn't expect that. Krestel is so interesting to discover and I loved that she wasn't the naive girl we usually have. Great review!

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  18. I'm really interested in reading this book. I keep reading really wonderful things about it...

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  19. This one only fell in the 3 stars category for me :| I guess my expectations were too high. I really enjoyed the first half of it, all the introductory part to Arin & Kestrell's world, and the romance was such an attention-grabber, but I didn't really enjoy how the story was told from 3rd POV. I'd still definitely read the next books from this series, though. Nice review, Jasprit! :)

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  20. After hearing all the hype I was also cautious about this one- but I didn't need to be. I enjoyed it even more than I expected! The book really is cut in two- the first half is sort of a romantic-society read with some intrigue- but then the SECOND HALF. Gracious, I found myself swept away and rushing to the end! I'm (impatiently) looking forward to book two… ^^ Great review!

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  21. So I'm REALLY looking forward to reading this but I feel like I'm going to get confused by all the unique names. (I got confused just by reading "Herrani" and "Valorian"). Nevertheless, I can't wait to explore this fascinating world!<3

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  22. I really loved this one too! I'm not sure how I want this series to work out either because it seems like a lose lose situation at the minute. I really appreciated that Kestrel was a different sort of Fantasy heroine. She's not typically bad ass but she's strong in that she knows her own mind. I'm excited to see what the rest of the series brings for sure. Great review!

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  23. I also found myself torn about how i wanted things to go.. i liked the romance but i thought it would be quite unique to take a different approach.. still, I loved how sneaky Kestrel is and I LOVED the ending! great review,

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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  24. I really enjoyed this book. Wasn't sure I would because it took me a bit to get into it. I had heard great things, so I was worried about the hype. And I like that it didn't end traditionally with the girl totally swooning and lost in the romance. She's so strong! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  25. I'm glad this one ended up living up to your expectations! I was dying to read it from all the hype and reviews, bought a copy, and then got nervous. lol I hope to pick it up soon though!

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  26. After few initial bad reviews, I am really glad to see that you liked it. I wanted to read it from the moment I saw it on GR, but I was hesitant up until now.
    Great review, Jasprit.

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  27. "Complex and elegant world" those words make me incredibly happy. I love it when the author has the right balance between overwhelming/underwhelming world-building. Just enough details, but no information dump, that's how I like it :)

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