The Winners Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: July 3rd 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
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
Warning: This review may contain ramblings that might not quite make sense.
Oh, The Winners Curse, I love you, I love you, I love you. You were delightfully cruel. And brilliant. And amazing. Did I mention cruel? Exceptionally cruel.
The Herrani's were beaten in War by the Valorians, who have taken over High Society and enslaved the Herrani's as slaves. The Valorians beat the Herrani's because though they were basically once barbarians, they're strategic and underestimated. The Herrani's lost beause of that, so they were captured and enslaved and reminded each day of what they watched and lost while the Valorian's took over their homes. Not all Valorians and Herrani's are bad though, and it's those that are caught in the crossfire. I just love the hypocrisy at both sides. Those with the thirst for power for power and arrogance is the downfall on both sides, and is exactly why they lost and won. Those with the thirst for revenge and wellbeing are those with the power and patience to win, and it's clearly shown in The Winners Curse.
So basically, the world building was heavy, and a little confusing at first, but it's oh so good, and strong. You learned about both sides, and the world now as you went along and it was done in a way that though bulk learned at certain times, it created the atmosphere of danger and fear and was never restricting or felt like an info dump.
However, the characters really steal the show (not to take away from the awesomeness of the whole thing, because it is), but for me they do. They are very sneaky and conniving, especially our two main leads. Kestrel was not what I was expecting at all. Whereas most of the high class women are now snobby, and pretty much all they do is gossip, while the men are soldiers, which kind of grates because what in the name of feminism?
But they can train and fight, and enlist but the most important thing is that they have a choice. When it comes to that, at least. Though the other options marriage.
Kestrel's anything but like them, yes she acts like it sometimes because it's what is expected from her, but she's not. She's not a gossip (only used as a distraction), but she picks up on little bits and pieces in the way people act or don't act. She's a strategist, which doesn't go unnoticed by her father The General, which is why he's so adamant to get her to enlist. She didn't know what she wanted, but she didn't want the choices that awaited her. And you really see her. Kestrel is the most level headed characters I've come across in a while, and she's not stupid. Throughout The Winners Curse, you see a real change in her, and once things start to hit the fan, she's quiet, calculating, waiting. The girl has patience, and real balls.
Though the romance is a very prominent feature, since it spurs the actions of the characters, it doesn't overtake the actual plot of the story. It's there, and it's a slow burn one, and oh so good, and just that ending. I can't. Really. More, please?
With complex characters, betrayal, brutality and an actual Romeo & Juliet style passion and love and sacrifice The Winner's Curse is everything you'd want and brings a whole new meaning to Intensity.