Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy (but not really...)
Release Date: 10 April, 2014 (Aus ebook), 3 July, 2014 (Aus paperback)
Source: Bloomsbury Sydney. Thank you!
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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. Kestrel has other ideas.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. 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.

The first novel in The Winner's Trilogy is a story of rumours, lies and deadly games with everything at stake.
Review by Nara

   "And rather light of purse, I'd say." The pointy-chinned woman snickered. "Looks like someone's suffering the Winner's Curse."
   Kestrel turned to her. "What do you mean?"
   "You don't come to auctions often, do you? The Winner's Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price."
I have a minor quibble and the minor quibble is this: dude, who the heck is going around marketing this series as a high fantasy, because that so ain't right. Well, I suppose, depending on the definition of "high fantasy" that you use, it could be considered one. It is set in an imaginary world. However, by my own definition (which is a fantasy that's set in an imaginary world), The Winner's Curse is most definitely not a high fantasy. There is absolutely no fantasy aspect whatsoever. No magic, no fairies, no vampires/werewolves, nothing. So misleading...

That's not to say that this book was a bad book. Not at all! Despite there being no fantasy elements, The Winner's Curse had plenty of other interesting aspects- including political intrigue, well developed characters and a fantastic romance- all of which made for a truly excellent read.

The world building was fairly good. It certainly wasn't as great as I'd expected, seeing as though I'd seen several claims of "stunning", "phenomenal" and "incredible" world building, but it was good enough. I suppose a lot of the time the world building of a high fantasy relies on how well the magic system is developed, and seeing as though there was no fantasy element in this book, my view of the world building may have been skewed. That being said, I think the world that Rutkoski has created was still quite intriguing. It's one exulting in war and segregation, and I definitely look forward to seeing how it will be explored in sequels.

The romance was....*contented sigh*. It was so nicely done. Granted, it was slightly cliched, but who gives a damn when it's just so well developed! With not a hint of instalove in sight, this slow burning romance was definitely one I was shipping hard. And....NO LOVE TRIANGLE! That's always a cause for celebration.

THAT ENDING AJDSFKASLKDF! I knew something like that was coming, but who knew it'd be so freaking frustrating. AND THE TRUE MEANING OF THE TITLE AHHH! Sad times. It's certainly got me making grabby hands for the sequels. I very much look forward to seeing how Rutkoski will resolve the...shall we say, "dilemmas".


Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5