Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski [Review!]

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)5 out of 5 Robots!

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Curse #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: March 4, 2014
Hardcover: 355 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon and Julia
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book 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.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon and Julia's Thoughts:
1. In one sentence, tell me what you think of this book.
Shannon: Wow.  It actually lived to expectations.

Julia: This is one of the most enthralling, riveting and delicious reads of 2014 so far!
2. Kestrel is a strong lead character, what did you think of her actions/reactions to the situations around her? 
Shannon: What I really liked about Kestrel is that she was not "kick ass" nor was she shallow or vapid.  She can admit her weaknesses.  But she is also incredibly smart, with an eye for strategy.  I thought her reactions were realistic, which I also loved.

Julia: Shannon hit the nail on the head. Her reactions were very pragmatic and were never predictable, yet made sense for her character. I love that she is witty and logical, that she is always thinking about her next "move." A heroine that isn't perfect and embraces their weaknesses and works with them is the best kind of heroine. 
3. Is there anything that shocked you about this book, or is there anything that sets it aside from other books in this genre? 
Shannon: Well, I was surprised at the turn the book takes half way through.  I wasn't expecting that.  I also thought the book would be way more focused the romance.  And while it is is a major slow burn.  It even takes a backseat (appropriately so) when other more important events are happening.  And that shocked me, actually!  That's what sets it aside 

Julia: I expected this book to focus on the "forbidden love" of the main characters, but it didn't. I'm very thankful for that! I love when plot-action takes precedence over romance... and there is so much action. This is a total page turner and there is one event after the next to keep you on your toes. And the ending shocked me, didn't see that coming...
4. Who is your favorite character? Who is your least favorite character? (Why!)
Shannon: I loved Kestrel.  She's smart, determined, a little proud, but caring too.  I also loved Arin who is her match in every way.  My least favorite character was the slave auctioneer.  He was a total skeeve.

Julia: Kestrel is also my favorite character. She's just a very strong, likeable character. I honestly didn't like her father, the slave auctioneer and her best friend. They're all on the same level for me. They just all either made me roll my eyes or want to throat chop them. Though without a doubt, for obvious reasons, the slave auctioneer is the ultimate skeezeball for soooo many reasons- but every good plot needs a good villain. :)
5. Awesome plot or not? 
Shannon: I vote awesome.  I liked the war aspects quite a lot - especially once the ish hit the fan.  I liked that Rutkoski took her time building her plot and romance, but it didn't feel boring at all.  I liked that it took a different turn than I expected.  It could have been so stereotypical YA romance, but it wasn't.

Julia: So awesome. I finished this book a week ago and I'm STILL harping on the characters and absolutely antsy for the next book. Like Shannon said, Rutkoski really takes her time building a very vivid story, letting us get to know the characters and the universe they live in while propelling the story forward. I really felt every character's emotions and this plot just kept moving... I didn't want the story to end!

6. Any opinions on the budding romance? 
Shannon: Loved it!  As I mentioned, this romance is a delicious slow it should be!  Arin is Kestrel's slave and their feelings for each other are complicated...especially at the end of the book.  But they are so well matched, so watching them spar is pretty great.  I think another author could have spent all the time focusing on the "star crossed lovers" aspect, but I liked that while the romance was at the heart of the book, it wasn't the sole focus all the time.  It made me respect the romance all that much more when the characters were capable to caring about something besides each other.

Julia: There is so much tension and things left unsaid between Arin and Kestrel... it's like you're really thirsty and the water is RIGHT THERE OUT OF REACH! This woman knows how to tease her readers, haha. It is very sweet watching them evolve from acquaintances to best friends and then realizing their feelings for each other.

7. Last thoughts.
Shannon: I think everyone should give this book a try.  Now, I don't think everyone will love it.  It is admittedly, a bit slow and a bit of a character study at times.  The world building, while perfect for me (I like some, but not a lot of details...I prefer to get more of a "feeling" for the setting than the technical aspects), may frustrate some people.  But I think everyone should give it a read because they may love it as much as I did!

Julia: Read The Winner's Curse! It has a lot of heart, is beautifully written and the characters have wonderful chemistry. Everything Shannon said above!  

Read the first five chapters for free here 
or click the link below to purchase at


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