Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
Published: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Categories: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
External Links: Book Depository • 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.
Review: I have a problem with overly hyped and massively marketed books: they tend to inflate my expectations by several folds. It throws me off my game. You expected it to be good—like very good but not flawless. But once you found out those flaws, you unconsciously and unintentionally break it down under close scrutiny. I guess it’s unfair to treat it that way but that’s how I felt when I read The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.
I really wanted to like this book; my sister seemed to love it. And as I always say, I value her opinion. This time we are standing in two opposite platforms. I don’t hate it but I don’t like it either. The story was hard for me to navigate. The pace was unimaginably slow for me. The groundwork took long enough and by the time it was truly interesting I’m not that eager to know anymore (eagerness flew right out of the window). I’m kinda impatient type of reader but that being said I don’t mind slow progression. There were books I read before that has the same pacing and I ended up loving it (like Sempre by J.M. Darhower). But this time, it was inexcusable to me which again I think had something to do with how people view this book with utmost praises, you wanted it to be almost perfect so when you notice small lags it becomes a big deal.
The writing style for me is full of layers, a lot of undertones. I liked that but the story here have so many layers. Ordinarily, you just need to peel off the first one and you’ll see what really it is when you unearth the second layer. This time the story for me has more than just two layers, like you have to dig deep down to understand the picture. Like you think that what the characters were doing was pretty much mundane but you’ll be surprised that at the center of the scene, something quite big has happened. You need to focus on the details. It is where pieces of information were placed.
I think the way it was written was clever although personally it work s against me. I liked how the characters biggest assets can be noticed throughout the story as opposed to highlighting it in one explosive scene. Like Kestrel, she was peg to be this smart lady—a tactician and that will expect you to see her all clever and stuff. And you’re waiting for the obvious but that’s not how it happened. Her strategies and calculations were disguised and you will only notice it when you read the result (see it was all in the details). And then there’s Arin, I knew he wasn’t just a simple guy. A boy she bought as a slave. The hints were obvious but in some way he still didn’t come as predictable. I know that sounded like a compliment and in some ways it is, I think, but that’s actually my problem. They were so precise, like unbelievably crafted that it fell contrived for me.
This one of those rare cases when the positive merits are what made the book a little lackluster. And then the actual faults became so much more than what it should normally are. It’s like a double whammy for me but still, I enjoyed it just fine. Although admittedly, I was bored and confused but I’m going to take the responsibility. I laud the way the story was written, really, it was…creative. Does it deserve the praises? I honestly think so but it just wasn’t for me.
Preview Quote: “Kestrel’s cool calculation appalled her. This was part of what had made her resist the military: the fact that she could make decisions like this, that she did have a mind for strategy, that people could so easily become pieces in a game she was determined to win.”