Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Review Source: eARC from publisher through Raincoast Books
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
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.
There’s been a huge amount of hype for this book for months now, so it definitely means something when I say that I adored The Winner’s Curse. So often books with hype fail to impress me, but this one most definitely did. The characters are so interesting and layered, and the plot was one that grabbed me from the beginning. I was intrigued by the world building and the situation in place (one nation’s people being the victors and the oppressors, the other’s the subjugated and enslaved).
While this book is about so much more than romance, I couldn’t help but adore the delicious slow burn tension between Kestrel and Arin. What they have (or what they could have, really) is completely forbidden. Neither of them should care for the other, but there’s this sense of understanding between them: they can really see each other. I think what I loved most about Kestrel and Arin's relationship is that it's very much about the emotions and connection between them. Their potential is all about these deep epic feelings they’re battling, and not about a mysterious physical connection, like so many other books feature.
While the evolving relationship between Kestrel and Arin is at the heart of the book, The Winner’s Curse is also primarily a book about freedom and choice (or lack thereof). It focuses on the cost of victory (hence the term “the winner’s curse”), and about our personal roles in a larger conflict. This book is deliciously written. I almost can’t remember the last time I was so swept away in a book’s world right from the beginning. So much happens in this first book, and Marie Rutkowski takes readers to a place where we’re satisfied with the ending (aka it’s not the type of book that just randomly stops), but we’re still incredibly excited to see what will happen next.
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