Title: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1)
Author: Marie Rutkowski
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
Reads the first five chapters online
"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."
First line: "She shouldn't have been tempted."
Thoughts: The Winner's Curse is exactly why I love reading and blogging so much. It has everything I admire, strive for, and love about YA novels or novels in general. Let's see, there's this insane forbidden romance that is both frustrating yet desirable. I also have to mention lovable and complicated characters that you can't help but cheer for. On top of all this, the icing on the cake has to be Rutkoski's exquisite writing which reads like a classic Jane Austen novel. Though we're only a couple of months into the new year, I can already tell that this book will be either number one or two on my list of top ten favorite books of 2014.
From the very beginning, I never once grew tired of Kestrel or Arin. THE WINNER'S CURSE kept me on my toes and though there isn't a lot of action, the world/character building kept me intrigued. The story is told through both Kestrel and Arin's point of views. Kestrel is the General's daughter and a society girl. She lives in a gorgeous house, lives a life of lavish, and is considered to be quite a catch. Now, you would think that being in this position would transform her into a gossiping snob, as most spoiled girls tend to be. No, not Kestrel. She is both compassionate and intelligent. I will say that I thought her character started off a tad on the weaker side, she grew stronger and stronger as the book progressed.
Now, let's talk about Arin. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Arin. Even though I understood where he's coming from, this guy just kept stomping on my poor, fragile heart. Both characters do this, actually. Just not at the same time, If I were in his shoes, I'm not sure what I would have done. Probably much of the same as him. He's standoffish at first, but grows more and more lovable. Life has made him hard, and I guess the only person that can break that hard shell is Kestrel. Unfortunately, being who they are and where they come from, there will always be room for betrayal.
The romance is beautifully crafted. I believe the words "hot mess" probably describe Kestrel and Arin's situation best. As they grew closer, I couldn't help but swoon. Sadly, though, these moments are far and few. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way but wouldn't mind many more encounters in the sequel...hint, hint.
Overall, I think everyone in the reading world should pick up a copy of THE WINNER'S CURSE as soon as possible. I must say that the ending will leave you cringing inside. It's not necessarily a bad ending but definitely leaves you wanting and longing for the sequel more than you need air. If you think the cover is gorgeous, just wait until your introduced to the actual novel. I can't say it enough, THE WINNER'S CURSE is divine, stunning, and writing at it's best.
“Isn't that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?”
“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”
“How much easier everything would be if that were so. But Kestrel wouldn't let herself consider the truth. She didn't want to know its shape or see its face.”
“She didn't answer. She concentrated on the feel of the table's edge pressing into the small of her back. The table was simple and real, joined wood and nails and right corners. No wobble. No give.”