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The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski | Review

4:44:00 AM

Pages: 355 
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
ISBN: 0374384681 (ISBN13: 9780374384685)

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.

Now, What I Thought:

I don't exactly know how I did it but I managed to read this whole book in about 4 hours... That is the BEST record time I have for reading a book. I'm pretty proud of myself and clearly this book lived up to it's hype by how fast I read it. I honestly just seemed to speed through it and wanting needing to know how this book will end! I really liked the world this was set in. I felt as if it was so different and unique that it was refreshing to read about. The politics, history and war in this world is just amazing. I LOVED reading all about the past and what happened with the war between Herrani and Valorians. It was interesting to read that the Herrani's were the ones on 'top' before the 'brutish' Valorians came and took it from them. Instead of causing excitation with the Herrani race, the Valorians took them as slaves. Pretty sad for the Herrani's. Obviously towards the end of the book I wasn't a big fan of the race but I get why both sides did what they did. The great thing about this book was that the politics, history and even the way the dystopian world was, was so logical. I actually made sense of what was law and the rituals/customs they had. I've never read anything by Rutkoski but I really like her writing and how she made this dystopia so believable and understandable. I didn't find myself confused at any of the 'ways of life' the Valorian's lived as well as the Herrani. 

As for the characters!!!! Let's start with:

Kestrel: Absolutely amazing. I've always said my favourite protagonist from any book had to either be Celaena from Sara J. Mass's, Throne of Glass series or Taryn from Tijan's, A Whole New Crowd series. Well, Kestrel definitely tops those by a long shot! I was so impressed that Rutkoski managed to make her so strong and liked even though physically, she wasn't much of a fighter. Instead, her main weapon was her mind. In the beginning chapters her father even compliments her saying, 

"Her father gave her a level look. “Your military strength has never been in combat.” Which was another way of saying that she was a poor fighter. More gently, he said, “You’re a strategist.” Kestrel shrugged. Her father said, “Who suggested I draw the Dacran barbarians into the mountains when they attacked the empire’s eastern border?”All she had done then was point out the obvious. The barbarians’ over reliance on cavalry had been clear. So, too, had been the fact that the dry eastern mountains would starve horses of water."

I mean... It's pretty clear she knows her shit and she's very talented in the sense that she knows how to think her way out of any problem! We do however get to see her physical strength get put to the test, which to be honest, was one of my favourite scenes in the WHOLE book. The fight she had with Irex was just laughable. She would have clearly lost if she hadn't used that strategist brain of hers and think her way out of being killed! I honestly think Kestrel was such a brilliant character, I can't wait to read her smart and witty mind in the next novel!

Arin: The first time we get introduced to him and Kestrel described him was basically when I knew that this rough around the edges, hot ass looking dude would be our love interest. I, at first, liked him a lot! I thought he was great and understandable considering he was just bought to be slave for a family, I would be pretty hostile as well. And finally when we get that knowledge that he's actually not all innocent as he seemed to be. AND. What he had been doing around the house was so not innocent AS WELL. Well....... I kind of freaked. I almost put the book away because I couldn't stand him anymore. I can say 100% having finished the book now, I still very much dislike Arin. Maybe the next book will change that but honestly, that betrayal and then for him to expect her to still be all lovey eyed with him.. As Cher would say from Clueless, AS IF. 
 Jess: From the beginning to the end, I always liked her. Her loyalty really showed towards the middle and that touching devotion Kestrel shows Jess at the end is truly touching. I LOVED Jess. She was such a breath of fresh air and seemed to be the perfect best friend Kestrel needed. It's no secret that Kestrel is a strange, non conforming to society norms, type of girl. And Jess is honest about that and even says so out loud about her friend. They are the two perfect duo that I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of in the next book! Though, I wonder if the events that happened in the last chapter of this novel will throw a rift between them two, concerning Ronan. And speaking of Ronan...

Ronan: Super hot. Super available. In love with Kestrel. What's not to love back!?!? Well the fact that Kestrel knows in her heart that he's not for her. Towards the end I really did think Ronan had a chance, I was actually routing for him more than Arin, since my hatred for him was stronger than ever, but poor Ronan. He does get shot down indefinitely and I'm sad to say that I'm pretty sure tat ship has sailed 100%. We know he's Jess's brother but we don't really touch on their family other than the siblings. I wonder if we will get to learn more of their family and how they are so close to the general's daughter. 

General Trajan: I just wanted to touch upon this character because Rutkoski really did go all out with her characters and made the stereotypical father in charge not so typical in this book. It was a welcome refreshment when I realized that the general isn't all that mean and typical 'dad' like in many YA dystopia novels. I actually quite like Kestrel's father and I'm glad we'll get to read about him in the next book. After what's happened now, I hope we'll actually get to see more of him and understand him better! I liked how he could be nice and caring yet have that fatherly figure in him. He made sure that his daughter knew he was to be obeyed but not out of cruelty or oppressiveness, but out of caring and the love  for his daughter and her safety. He was just another one of Rutkoski's great characters in this series.

The book ended with a satisfying cliff hanger for what is to come in the next book, but it wasn't unbearable. I quite like how abruptly this ended and I'm pretty glad I read this so late because now all 3 books are out, YAY. Time to get reading and hopefully I'll have read the whole series by the end of this week, or at the rate I'm going, by at least Friday. Also, the cover is just so impeccable, definitely a plus for me!!!!!!! LOVED THIS!

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