Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Curse

Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
Release Date: March 2014
Source: I borrowed a physical copy from the public library
Purchase from Amazon: Hardcover, paperback or digital copy

Goodreads summary:

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.

My review:

Kestral is a young woman living in an era where slaves are common, but she doesn't take into account the role her newly acquired slave Arin will play in her life and in her country's.

Let me start off by saying that if you read this book and expect a full-blown fantasy with a romantic subplot, you will be disappointed. However, if you read this book with the expectations of a romance set against a political fantasy backdrop, you won't be. 

The romance between Kestral and Arin is the most important aspect of the story. It focuses on first love, first heartbreak, and all the uncertainty of war and the social and cultural variations of freemen and slaves. It definitely reads heavier than contemporary romance, and that's probably the reason I didn't mind reading it as a romance.

The politics are also very heavy and explained in detail. As a dystopian lover, I appreciated the war strategies that popped up from the General's lectures and Kestral's own devious plotting. 

The fantasy felt a little lacking in terms of world-biulding, but I was able to overlook the absence. The development of the history helped here, but the world felt generic in some cases. Perhaps more Herrani language and culture would have helped.

I enjoyed reading this and it moved very quickly for me. I will be picking up the second book to see how the romance changes, although I don't expect it to become more fantastical. That's okay; I have decided this will be one of my Romance picks for the year. 

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

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