Title: Winners Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication: March 4, 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Reviewed by: Vanessa
Rating: 5 stars
Reason for reviewing: Pleasure
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.
Short and Quick: Kestrel is an intelligent strong-willed girl who doesn’t like her options in life and is determined to try to find a way to lead the kind of life she’s dreamt of. Little did she know she’d fall in love with a slave with secrets and a mission of his own.
Favorite Quote: “He lifted her up onto the table so that her face was level with his, and as they kissed it seemed that words were hiding in the air around them, that they were invisible creatures that feathered against her and Arin, then nudged, and buzzed, and tugged.
Speak, they said.
Speak, the kiss answered.”
My Thoughts: I love Kestrel’s character. She comes from wealth and is the daughter of a popular General, but she doesn’t let that change who she is deep down. She is pensive and strong-willed. She is unhappy with her life because she is realizing that her position has boundaries and certain expectations that she does not want to give in to. I love her courageous spirit as well. Especially when she is in a tough predicament towards the end of the book. Her spirit and tenacity makes her a wonderful heroine to read.
Arin……oh Arin. Why oh why must you be so intriguing?! Arin is a quiet guy who does what he’s told by his masters but who secretly has a plan of his own. What could it be? I was definitely intrigued by this character because although he’s quiet and defiant at first you just know he’s going to change people’s lives (in more ways than one).
The supporting characters were great too. I absolutely loved Jess (Kestrel’s best friend) and Ronan, Jess’ brother. Jess is so sweet natured and brings humor and happiness to Kestrel’s life. She is the sister Kestrel never had. Ronan is a flirt with a great heart who, if Arin hadn’t been in the picture, I would have wanted for Kestrel.
Although I’m used to fast-paced books (a la Lunar Chronicles) this book has a slower pace which goes perfect with the mood and serious theme of the book. The world building is wonderful and thankfully not overwhelming. Although it’s a slower pace, it’s definitely not boring! There are twists you really don’t see coming and there are serious scenes that I would not have expected from this book.
A few more of my favorite quotes: • “She saw, yet again, that her friend's compliments were just bits of art and artifice. They were paper swans, cunningly folded so that they could float on the air for a few moments. Nothing more.”
• “Survival isn't wrong. You can sell your honor in small ways, so long as you guard yourself. You can pour a glass of wine like it's meant to be poured, and watch a man drink, and plot your revenge.”
• “My soul is yours,” he said. “You know that it is.”