TITLE: The Winner's Curse
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
SERIES: The Winner's Trilogy (#1)
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Childrens
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
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.
What I Liked:
- The general plot concept and story-line were such a good idea. Forbidden love is always a trope I quite like reading and racism was a theme nicely interwoven into the story-line. I also quite liked the way that there was no black and white throughout the story. Everything was a grey are: which characters you were supposed to like, who you were meant to root for, whether you liked the decisions they made.
- Most definitely the last third of the book. It was in my opinion what saved it (more on that later) and made me actually want to read the next book in the series! I felt like more effort was put into it, there was a clear direction that the author was heading towards and it flowed much more nicely than the rest of the book. I was gripped while reading this part!
What I Disliked:
- The first portion of the book just felt a little disjointed and vague. What I mean by that is it felt rushed: conversations felt unfinished, there wasn't much detail about the world-building as a whole and important plot events felt a little glossed over. As a result I didn't get the connection to the story or characters that I was hoping for from the get-go and that was a bit disappointing.
- For most of the book, Arin and Kestrel as a couple were a little disappointing. I liked them but I didn't feel completely invested in them like I expected to for one simple reason. There was no real chemistry between them! Mostly, that is because of the reason I mentioned above: there was simply not enough detail put into the world and the characters that lived in it, and the moments between them were often cut short. I appreciated the lack of insta-love I suppose but I didn't really root for them as a couple until the final part of the book.
While I did enjoy this book, especially the last section when things seemed to flow better and become more interesting, I just felt it was a bit too jumpy. I felt like Rutkoski knew where she wanted the book to end but in her rush to get there, neglected the beginning and middle portions a little. It jumped too much from character to character and I feel like key relationships and events were brushed aside far too much. There was a build in both plot and romance that I liked, and the concept was good, but if the whole book had been like the end section I would have liked it a lot more!