Published by: Farrar, Straus and Girouz on 4th March 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | B&N
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.
I have been fantasizing about reading this book for so long that I feared I would hate it and find a load of disappointments. To have finished reading it now and feel appeased, I was literally floating in the air with happiness. Satisfaction? Check.
This book bypassed any expectations I had with its wondrous world building and plot. With its tantalizing and poetic writing that rivals even Claudia Gray, I was sucked in within the first few pages. 2 to be exact. The prose and metaphors just meshed so well together, I could have cried. It was that beautiful. I wish I could re-live that first experience of reading The Winner's Curse over and over because I was left breathless by it.
Kestrel is one of my favourite type of character. She can think for herself, she's smart and she's not afraid to risk a little to gain a lot more. She's the type of person who wouldn't give up hope if she were to be thrown into a den of lions, she would fight til the very end. Yet, at the same time, she's so human and has her weaknesses and flaws, hobbies you wouldn't expect her to have. She loves music and thrives to become a musician. Her strong will to rise above everyone's expectations of her was certainly admirable and a strong point. Her development was incredible as she molded into a confident woman.
As the daughter of a reputed general, she's faced with a tough predicament to either join the military or to get married. Things get worse when she buys a slave off the auction market. The boy - Arin - who is rumoured to be able to sing tempts Kestrel to sway and pay a huge price for him. But it brings upon a curse, perhaps not one that is written down, but she pays dearly for it later in the book. And during this time, she is entangled within a bittersweet love for the slave. Romance does not overtake the plot. Far from it. It's very political based yet enthralling. The world was just vivid and outstanding.
There were intense moments, so heartbreaking and wistful it tugged at my heartstrings. I loved the emotions I felt whilst reading, no doubt thanks to the beautiful writing. The ending left me in tatters, Rutkoski really knows where to strike and get you right in the feels because I was left yearning and desperate to know what happens next.
I had no outstanding issues with this book. I adored it. But what I would love to see is perhaps a novella about Arin and his past. Perhaps this is covered in Book Two who knows? I just want to hear his entire side of the story because a lot of the time, I felt anger towards him yet I felt like I shouldn't have. I love his character and I want to understand his reasons for the actions he took so they can be justified.
Ahh, so good guys. I really enjoyed this one! A definite favourite and I highly recommend. (Especially non-fantasy lovers.)