This was one of my highly anticipated books for the year, so woot! I finally got to read it! We also have a giveaway running for The Winner’s Curse over here, so pop over. Go enter. Adore.
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.
Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner’s Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.
Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
To say I was “freakishly and psychotically excited” about this book is an understatement. I WAS DOING THE HULA WHEN I GOT IT. HUZZAH. Get me a comfy cushion and some hot chocolate and let’s devour this gorgeous specimen in one sitting!
Did I like it? Well, it’s complicated.
I loved it, I hated it. THE WINNER’S CURSE has me torn, that’s for sure. Because lists rock, let’s go List-tastic on this, shall we?
– The setting! OH GOSH. Can we take a minute to appreciate the world-building of this book?! I read in the author’s note that it’s inspired by the Greco-Roman period. Think slaves and villas and horses and ball gowns. It was super refreshing and interesting. FINALLY. Something new! (Although, I actually thought it was sci-fi when I picked it up…huh. Funny, life, innit?) There is no technology though! Just to be clear…because it did take me a while to figure out if there was or not.
– Kestrel! I love how Kestrel proves you can be strong and tough and absolutely kick-butt…without even drawing blood. She’s an amazing girl and well written! Also: piano playing? Musicians are awesome. I would know, of course.
– The detailed and extravagant plot! I tend to get hopelessly fuddled when books delve into the political side, but THE WINNER’S CURSE had all the trimmings of a political war PLUS kept my brain on the page. Go me! (Probably, go this talented author, actually. But whatever. I deserve a self-five too.) The details were blow-my-socks-off. The twists kept me guessing and impressed.
– Peoples, it was just a very well written book! That’s the bottom line of the matter! So why am I whining? Okay, let me explain…
– Why do we have to keep flogging the sexism plot device? Frankly, I’m tired of it! Sexism is a real curse of modern society and it’s a pretty black shadow on our history. So when you create a fantasy world TOTALLY DETACHED from our own…why do we need to use the same cultural trials?? There’s plenty of racism and sexism in THE WINNER’S CURSE and while both are completely interesting plot devices to explore, I wondered what the purpose to the sexism one was. I mean, women could go into the army, but they couldn’t go into town without an escort?! Continuity!
– Arin and Kestrel sittin’ in a tree, H-A-T-I-N-G each other. Where was the romance? What was the connection? As I saw it, it was pretty one sided (and that was Kestrel wanting to be friends and Arin being the perfect brute).
At the same time, I really admired Arin. Obviously life isn’t easy being beaten around with no rights as a stinky household slave. BUT. Dude…you were ever NICE to Kestrel. How am I supposed to ship you guys? I did not ship Kestrel and Arin. Not even ONCE. As individual characters, Kestrel and Arin are excellent. As a couple? How about no?
– It was freakishly boring in places. You love me ‘cause I’m honest, don’t you? I’m not going to lie: the writing was astoundingly brilliant. The plot just got soooo daaaang sloooow in places I could have easily nodded off.
Highlight below to read:
Okay, so this is probably just me…buuuut, why did Kestrel feel so bad about betraying Arin and his people by telling HER people what had happened on the Peninsula?
“I am Lady Kestrel, General Trajan’s daughter. Herrani have taken the peninsula. You must recall my father from the east and send him to stamp out the rebellion. You must.”
I think that’s fair, Kestrel. Why are you so guilty? YES, she loved Arin, obviously. And he let her go, and n’aww, it was adorable and my little heart is throbbing. Buuuut…Arin is one guy. Not a single person from the rebellion showed Kestrel any respect. The Herrani proved they were just as malicious and cruel as the Valorians! Only Arin (and Kestrel’s old nurse) were the exceptions, it seemed. SO I’m confused why Kestrel felt the sudden kinship to the Herrani as a whole. I personally don’t think it made sense at all!
I liked this book! I did! It was fresh and original. But I can’t ignore boredom, peoples, and I don’t understand a lot of the characters’ motivations.
The cover does rock, though. Don’t you adore it? I absolutely adore it.
Cait has just finished writing a discussion for the blog with Mime so, ohhhh, look out for it tomorrow. It involves books and food. (Duh.) And also: Cait finished writing her book! PARTY TIME. This gorgeous little specimen is finished at 50K and would-you-believe-it is suddenly part of a trilogy. Thanks for nothing, little book. She is currently thinking about sleeping.