Hello fellow readers. In this week's Unraveling Books,
in which Caitlyn and I do dual reviews on YA books so you guys see our different
or same perspectives on the same book, we review THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Goodreads Summary: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.
TAHERAH'S THOUGHTS: 4-4.5 STARS
Brilliant and enchanting, The Winner's Curse caught me by surprise. While it did not necessarily reach my expectations through all the hype it got, it was almost there. I was not exactly sure what to expect from reading this book by the summary which gave the book a pretty vague and mysterious aura. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the plot and its world. I love how we learn about the two races, the Herrani and the Valorians, and both point of views of one another. Original and not one that many YA authors divulge in, it was cool seeing the way imperialism worked and how it was shown in a fantasy world. Honestly, I kind of really hate both races. Or well at least the leaders of them because a lot of their problems just stem from really stupid ideas and misconceptions. There are many twists in the book and I think the first is dropped right in the middle....basically when everything goes to hell and chaos erupts.
Kestrel was an awesome character. She does what she wants yet she knows her limits. She's passionate about music despite it being a Herrani tradition. She's able to see a bit more of the Herranis than what ideas and morals she's been raised with. She finds herself throughout the book and learns much more than she could ever have imagined. She exudes authority and strategy. While she may possess some of these qualities from the start of the book, Kestrel's character does develop.
Arin. Oh Arin. His name was literally the first thing that made me fall for him. It's so pretty and nice. He easily befriends Kestrel and I love his brooding, "I'm here whenever you need me" attitude. I love how easy it is for Kestrel to talk to Arin. His role in the book was much larger than I thought it would have. Really the main problem I had with this book was Arin and Kestrel's relationship. I'm pretty sure it's just me but I felt like their relationship wasn't deep enough or there was something that was off about it and kind of tipped the scale one way or another never in balance. I was fine with them in the first half of the book but then during the second half of the book, I feel like their relationship could have been stronger or at least shown that way. While I'm sure many hated the end, I was grinning and squealing like crazy. Insane of me probably but I LOVED the way it ended. I will admit it's a cliffhanger yet one that still takes care of the actual problem. But the next book will be amazing and full of fun!
A whole new creative world where slavery is what sparks everything and on an unknown brink of a revolution, The Winner's Curse is a majestically woven tale giving readers true characters and an amazing story line. Definitely recommended to all fantasy, dystopian, and historical fiction lovers out there :) Happy Readings!
So...I really like this book...a lot. I have never read a fantasy novel anything like this. I was really more like dystopian novels than fantasy. But man if I didn't love every damn second of it. The whole Valorian/Herrani thing was really different. In the way that they are so different from one another like the Valorian are cold hearted, brave, warriors who conquer and destroy, while the Herrani are sweet, peaceful, loving society who create and learn and make beauty. I also love how those differences are reflected in the main character, while she creates he destroys and when she destroys he creates. I think its also really cool how no one side seems to be...better than the other...we see both sides of the whole take over thing but because of that feel no draw or want for one to become dominant (or stay dominant) over the other. It makes it easier to focus on just the characters and their relationships with each other than just on the sides of society they are on....The Winner's Curse is so good guys, you shouldn't even listen to me, just go read it.
MOVING ON! Kestrel...she's...um...well she's cool. She is really smart and brave (OH! Side note: I love how the warrior is the girl and the creator is the boy) and...compassionate. Sure she's judgmental sometimes but you have to picture what she was told as a child, if you do she is remarkably nonjudgmental. But then at the same time she has this vulnerability and she feels for these people who are enslaved and she sees the injustice of it. Other times she can be really stupid and not see anything...really with Kestrel its all up in the air but no matter what it is she's always awesome. Her ability to win games so well/her insane intelligence is really impressive to see in a main character and definitely adds so much to her, because she's not just some floundering girl searching for a foothold, she's just pretending while she looks for the next one to catch you off guard. Its really interesting seeing her develop as a character as she learns and...stuff...mmm...spoilers, can't say. I also loved see's this struggle she has within herself of what is right and wrong and what her dad would think or Arin would think paralleled with her fear and...knowledge that it would be fairly easy for her to begin to see the warriors at battle as just numbers and not people and how much this scares her and how hard she tries to make sure it never happens. (Longest. Sentence. Ever.) Kestrel is just a really amazing and interesting character.
Now Arin...Arin is too smart and cynical and wounded for his own good. He acts really stand off-ish and...I don't know how to describe it really...but its like...he wants to be a nice person because he is one but he also doesn't want to be because he knows he isn't and he's too hurt to do anything about it...aaaaaand that made no sense...sorry, best I can do. I love how he and Kestrel's relationship blooms. How he's always there when she needs him but he still tells himself he doesn't actually like her but its a lie and we all know it (except I kinda didn't because I get too emotionally invested into books and thought "Oh, shit. What if he is just pretending?") Arin is a really intriguing character. Everything about him seems to contradict itself: he has great manners but looks down on people, he has no emotions and yet he always snaps at Kestrel...and other stuff (I'd like to let you know that these are just specific occurrences I can remember...its not true ALL the time) And he's hot, that helps.
I think Winner's Curse is really amazing and everyone should read it. It is so interesting and fast passed and so unique. And the second half...well damn it just does a full fucking 180 and is like...whoa. And all the characters develop so much through out that part. AND THE END UGH MY HEART BREAKS!!!!!! Don't listen to Taherah, its a great ending story wise and perfect for the plot but damn if it won't rip your heart out....I'm sorry...that was over the top...Anyways, you should definitely read it, its utterly brilliant. Byeeeeee. ;)