The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Pages: 384
Song I Played While Reading: Talking Body by Tove Love
Rating: 3/3.5 stars

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.

This book had its strong points and its weak points. It definitely didn't live up to the hype for me, but I did enjoy the read. Honestly, my only complaint would be how slow it was. And its not because its the first book and we're being introduced to a new world. Because we aren't, in a way. It's a weird mix of fantasy and history because its just like our past, but with a few tweaks here and there. And those tweaks were refreshing and new. They worked.
The problem was that nothing really happened. The relationship between the two narrators was slow (I'm not complaining), and it didn't shake up their world until the middle of the book. So for the first 100 pages or so Kestrel went about her days like she normally would.
It was a pleasure being in such a bright mind though. She wasn't like the normal heroines, strong and able to fight. What she lacked in fighting skills, she excelled with her brilliant mind. She never faltered, thinking through every decisions and taking into account any missteps. She was cunning, smart, and knew how to use her words as a weapon. I admire that more in a person than simple strength. She also was fair and level-headed, never taking anyones shit. She was determined to pave her own path. 
I also really enjoyed Arin. He was similar to Kestrel in their composure and struggled to do the right thing, even if other people were telling him to do the opposite. Their was no insta-love. These were just two people who found a kindred spirit in each other.
The plot was a little sluggish at times, but overall developed well. I was surprised at the direction this novel went and really enjoyed seeing it from Kestrel's pov. I related easily to her internal struggles and wasn't quiet sure how this story was going to end. But once it did I was clamoring to get my hands on the next book. I have high hopes for it and expect it to completely blow this book to the dust. 

"Kestrel remembered the woman's stricken gray eyes. "The Herrani tell too many stories." They had been dreamers. Her father always said this was why they had been easy to conquer."

"This didn't trouble her- which did trouble her. Shouldn't she care? Didn't she welcome Ronan's attention? Yet the idea that he had fathered a child skimmed the surface of her mind and slipped in quietly, without a splash or gulp or quiver." 

"He opened his saddlebags to reveal lunch, then unfurled a picnic blanket with a flourish, settled onto it, and stretched out his long form. Kestrel joined him. He poured a glass of wine and offered it.
She lifted a brow. "That is a rather large amount of wine for this time of day."
"I hope to ply you with it, and make you say things you won't regret."
She sipped, watching him pour a second cup, and said, "Are you not afraid for yourself?"
He drank. "Why should I be?"
"Perhaps it is you who will reveal things he'd rather not. I understand you've been paying call to Lady Faris?"
"Jealous, Kestrel?"

""Kestrel." The general touched her shoulder. When he spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically hesitant. "It's every child's duty to survive her parents. My profession isn't a safe one. I would like- Kestrel, when I die, do not mourn me."
She smiled. "You do not command me," she said, and kissed his cheek."

"Ronan didn't speak for a few moments, then touched a slim braid that curled in a tendril along Kestrel's cheek. "This is pretty."
The memory of Arin's hands in her hair made her stiffen.
"Gorgeous?" Ronan tried again. "Transcendent? Kestrel, the right adjective hasn't been invented to describe you."

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

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