Author: Marie Rutkoski
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Summary (How could I live without you, Goodreads): 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.
My Thoughts: I'm going to be honest with you, bookish friends. This book was more like a 4.5 for me until the last chapter. And then, the last chapter happened. And it's like Marie Rutkoski knew exactly how to pull me in and want to continue this series. It's like she knew that I have a serious thing for angst-filled marriage follies and that I love a good love triangle, so long as it is done correctly. So, had the last chapter not happened, I probably wouldn't be finishing this trilogy. But it did, so here we are.
I tried picking this book up a long time ago (December 2014, according to goodreads) but I just wasn't feeling it at that time. I read the first chapter, wasn't interested, put it down and didn't think about it again. Fast forward to August, and I was cleaning off my shelves and rearranging my books and saw this one again. And that beautiful cover pulled me in. So, I stopped cleaning, started reading and finished half the book in one go. Apparently my mind had made up how bad I thought the first chapter was because I couldn't stop. But, once I did stop, I didn't start again for about a week. So while I liked it, I didn't love it, and I don't know how else to describe it other than by saying just that. My biggest issue was that the characters fell a little flat for me. While Kestrel was clearly intelligent, some of her motives confused me. It's like the author wanted the reader to connect with her, but in doing so left something out about her. I just didn't love her as much as I wanted to and that was disappointing. Arin was another character I didn't understand - maybe it was the whole slave/owner dynamic that was uncomfortable but it felt a little insta-lovey to me, even though it wasn't really. I just didn't swoon for Arin like other people did. So, while they were going through the awful things they were going through, I just didn't really care. Things happened all at once and a little too easily - some things were just too much of a coincidence for me to really get behind it. But other than that, i plowed through, and though it doesn't seem like it, genuinely enjoyed most of it. And I know that I've said this enough, but the last chapter offered enough promise for me to continue on; I like the potential that I see building.
Final Thoughts: While I enjoyed this, I didn't love it either. I thought it was a little too predictably young-adultish (not that there is a problem with that!!) for my taste, but the ending really did seal the deal for me.