Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release: March 4th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
#1 in the Winner's trilogy
Sequels: The Winner's Crime (#2), The Winner's Kiss (#3)


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.


Well, while I did enjoy this novel, I am left wondering if I really read the same book everyone else did. Because I do not see why it is as brilliant and amazing as all the glowing reviews have led me to believe thus far. Yes, it's quite nice, but ... I don't see the WOW-factor, to be honest.

The only truly wooing factor was the flawless writing style. I'm really appalled, because why have I never read anything by Rutkoski before?! Her writing is so smooth, it bleeds across the pages like liquid, like wine and honey mixed together in a swirl of deliciousness. I always admire authors who manage to make 3rd person sound good, and I think Rutkoski outdid herself in that department. Am I going so far as to say her writing's even better than Laini Taylor's? No, but it's close.

The characters are so-so. I mean, I liked them okay enough, but never cared about them, they've never crept up into my heart or anything. Likewise, I couldn't have cared less for the secondary characters, like Ronan or Jess, which sometimes were made out to be really important but most of the time, failed to convince in that department and just seemed like they were there because a novel has to have more than two characters to focus on, right? Something like that, I don't now, but they were more than expendable, to say the least. 
Anyways, for our two protagonists, there was some character development, although I would say it's barely there, and enough characterization to make me happy with them overall. Not the best thing about this novel, but alright.

Well, I guess what really kind of destroyed The Winner's Curse for me was the plot, or its lack of it. There was some minor stuff going on for about the first 200 pages, but nothing relevant, you know, just ... stuff. I didn't give a flying fuck about the light matters of society and which color the dress is going to be, blah, shoot  me now. It wasn't exactly boring, but ... uneventful. Which is why, for the first two thirds of the novel, I was creeping at a snail pace, there was simply nothing motivating me to read more than a chapter or three at a time. It does get better later on, but for the most part ... meh.

And then, the romance, as I already mentioned. What even? What? No. It's not even that I disapprove of Arin and Kestrel's relationship and budding feelings per se, but the way their attraction is handled during the last 70 pages or so just baffled me. I'm traipsing around spoiler territory here, but let me just say that I was aghast. It reeked of romanticizing unhealthy relationships which I am never okay with, but it wasn't even the relationship itself, but just its conditions... Well, if you've read the novel, you know what I'm getting at. It's weird, anyhow, and made me a little uncomfortable, especially as it's contradicting the characters' personalities a bit. 

All in all, I am very intrigued by that ending and I'm definitely going to be reading the next book. Did I enjoy this novel? I guess. Did I expect more? Definitely. Maybe it was simply all of the crazy good reviews that made me go in with unreasonably high expectations, but I did think it would live up to the hype a little more, you know? I'm not exactly disappointed, just ... confused, I guess. Like, how could it be so mostly average and get so much hype? I don't know, man. 

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