February 20, 2014

Latest Read: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Here are the basics ...
The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publication date: Mar. 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Receive from publisher (Thanks!)

Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
I’ve got three words for you - believe. the. hype.

I started The Winner’s Curse after I’d gotten into bed with the intention of reading for half an hour and going to sleep. Big mistake. Because you guys, this is not a book you can put down after thirty minutes. I ended up reading straight until 1am, work be damned, and it was absolutely worth it! I honestly tried to pace myself but it was impossible not to be swept up in the vivid world and characters Maria Rutkoski had created.

The Winner's Curse is set in an empire defined by two warring nations - the Valorians who currently rule and the Hellani, the people they conquered years ago who mostly work in their servitude. Seventeen-year-old Kestral is the daughter of a high-ranking general and as such, she's expected to behave in a matter that befits her position. Which she doesn't. At least, not exactly. For women in her society, they either have to marry or join the military. She wants to do neither and surprisingly, her father encourages to do the latter. The truth is, she may not be the strongest fighter, but she has a bright and intelligent mind with a keen sense of strategy.  Her true love is music though (which is frowned upon) and unlike most, she is kind and sympathetic to those she cares about, regardless of their nationality (even more frowned upon). The story begins with her stumbling upon a slave auction and following some unknown gut feeling, decides to buy a slave named Arin. The relationship they slowly form is the heart of the book but it's set against a background of war, honor and tough choices which felt equally as compelling.

With each passing page, I felt an urgency to know what was going to happen to Kestral and Arin and how their unexpected feelings for each other would affect those around them. Because nothing says epic love story like a relationship that could alter the course of a entire nation. There are just so many strengths in this book. The world-building and gorgeous writing, obviously. But the characters! Kestral's free-spirit, intelligence (especially when she got a little ruthless!) and her passionate nature made her the perfect heroine. My favorite heroines are always the ones who fight society's expectations and she was certainly fit the bill.

While the story is mainly told from Kestral's point-of-view, we do get treated to Arin's as well. I thought this was a good call because he is such a mysterious character. He definitely has the tall, dark and handsome brooding aspect going for him but there's much more to him than meets the eye. He has an agenda but seeing through his eyes gives us insight into the conflict he begins to feel as a Hellani slave and as a man obviously falling for Kestral despite his efforts to fight it. Both he and Kestral have to make some heartbreaking decisions and by the end.. well, I guarantee all the feels.

Do I recommend?: Yes, yes, yes! I can't recommend this book enough. If you love fantasy, you will love this! And even if fantasy isn't your usual genre, check this one out.

Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. March 4th can't come soon enough!!! I'm on a book buying ban, but this is one I will be making the exception for. I don't think I've seen a negative review for it yet!

    I love when the writing makes you urgent to know more, and a heroine who fights society's expectations of her? So so excited!

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  2. Believe the hype for SURE. Once I got going, I totally devoured this one! I felt like there was surprise after surprise and it was so extraordinary!

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  3. While THE WINNER'S CURSE didn't elicit the same response from me (a fact that makes me sad), I'm still glad to hear that you enjoyed it! The story is pretty engaging, and has me wondering what will happen in book 2 for sure.

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