Monday, March 17, 2014

Becky's View: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
♦publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
♦release date: March 4th, 2014
♦hardcover, 355 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Winner's Trilogy, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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.

Review: A Winner’s Curse is without a doubt one of the most anticipated books of the year among YA readers. And we can all see why:  with lots of early buzz, an enticing story premise, and one perfectly gorgeous cover, it drew us all in.  Marie Rutkoski delivers with writing that is absolutely gorgeous, a world that is intricately built, and two very strong-willed characters to acquaint ourselves with.

While I know many people who absolutely love this one, I found that I did really enjoy it, just not as much as I’d hoped or expected to.  Possibly this one fell victim to overblown hype or high expectations after seeing so many gushing reviews, but I was expecting to swoon like the girl on the cover, to be completely blown away,…and it fell just a little short of that.

Even so, I can’t deny that Marie Rutkoski has some serious writing style.  The language, the descriptions, the imagery, all gorgeously done. What I loved most about this story was Kestrel.  What a great heroine.  She is incredibly sharp, with a mind that her father, the General, covets to strategize his wars. She is determined not to join the military as her father wants and sees past his attempts to manipulate her.  Her passion is music, even though it’s unheard of among the high society.  She is constantly at war with herself, at being who she is within the aristocracy and who she truly is or wants to be inside, especially once Arin comes into her life. I especially loved the conflict and honor she wrestled with once the Herrani revolution began.

The love story took a long time for me to buy into, I loved Kestrel and Arin separately and each of their strength and spirit, but it took me a while to see why they would be so drawn to one another.  Still, by the middle of the story, I was rooting for them.

There is a good bit of history of the Herrani and the Valorians, and of Kestrel and Arin’s own lives, and sometimes I found it interesting, and sometimes I felt it drag a bit.  There is also extensive description of war strategy, which were exciting at times, but I admit my mind wandered a bit.  I found the pacing in the first half to be much slower than the second---it’s definitely the explosive events of the second half that really caught my attention and kept me reading to the end.

The Winner’s Curse is a beautiful intense story, one that I will most likely continue because the end leaves us at a great setup for both characters about to take on new adventures.  If there is one thing for sure, this taste of Rutkoski’s writing has left me hungry for more, and I’ll be seeking out her other work from now on.

Find Marie Rutkoski online:  Website  •  Twitter 

Purchase The Winner's Curse:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't love this one as much as you wanted to. But I'm still glad that you enjoyed it :D I really, really loved it. <3 and I'm glad you started rooting for Kestrel and Arin, hih :D Thank you for sharing. <3

  2. This sounds pretty good but I think I will leave the hype die down just a little before I read it!

  3. Agreed. I really did like this story and the characters, but I wasn't like: ermegerd, this is the best book ever. My favorite thing about the story was the history/military strategy and how Kestrel was so sharp, but definitely thought that the second half of the book had a quicker pace. Great review!

  4. Yeahhh, the beginning is kind of slow in trying to set up the world, but, like you said, the second half definitely captures you. I was so worried about the hype creating an expectation the book couldn't possibly achieve but that didn't seem to happen for me. And yes! Marie Rutkoski's writing is gorgeous! Great review Becky! :)

  5. I am very excited about this one and have heard so many good things. However, your point about not loving it as much as you expected because of the hype worries me. Not that I wouldn't pick it up, I just have been there and hate feeling somewhat let down because of that. I am excited that you enjoyed the writing style though and am still very excited to pick it up!

  6. I've heard nothing but god things about this book and I'm dying to get my hands on it. That cover alone is worth reading this book!! And I love it when the writing style is top notch too. Great review.

  7. I remember how everyone was excited about this book, but once it was released and reviews started getting out, I could see that not everyone loved the book as much as it started out. Now I feel like I'm on the fence about this one. I want to read it, but I don't think it's a priority to read it asap. Maybe later though. Although reading your review helped make up my mind. I like that you can simplify a story into a few paragraphs. And I agree, the cover is gorgeous.