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The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski Book Review

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.

Pages: 355
Source: Barnes and Noble

    I think you guys should know right from the start that I read this book in one session. There were no breaks. There were no distractions. I just sat down and read this book all the way through. Guys. I'm a college student. I have no time to be spending 6 hours devouring a book because there are so many other projects, papers, and assignments that are breathing down my neck and lately, I just don't have the time or energy to read anything that's not required. Nonetheless, I made time for this book. I read the first few pages and I was addicted.  I fell in love with this book as I'm sure you guys will as well and I'm calling it now! This book will be the next Divergent or Hunger Games. (So when it happens, make sure you tell everyone that is was me who saw this coming!)

     Have I mentioned before how much I love the fantasy genre? This book is exactly why I'm such a fan. The action all takes place in this land that has been conquered by a neighboring country and there's quite a bit of tension between the slaves and the masters and many other problems that plague the world of Marie Rutkoski. The setting was so imaginative, but so believable that I felt like this country could have actually existed. I kept checking to see if this was perhaps a futuristic book set in some country I know. I love when authors are able to transport me to a fantastical setting and yet provide me with enough information about the realities of the world that I really cannot make sense of what is real and what is fake. Those are the worlds I enjoy most. I think I have mentioned this before, but the best advantage a fantasy author possesses is the power to deal with difficult topics that are very relevant in today's society by creating characters who must experience and work through the same troubling subjects in make-believe settings. Readers are able to think about controversial topics within the safety of pages, but experiencing that subject in any form will also better prepare them to encounter and hopefully conquer examples of this problem in their own lives. I won't go into too much detail, but slavery and discrimination is a theme in this book that I think Marie Rutkowski deals brilliantly with. No matter how far you think our country has come, it's still a topic we should be facing head on and discussing instead of covering up every trace of it. 

     The romance, of course, is another characteristic of this book that really shines. I get excited when I can actually see the process of a character falling in love instead of it not being there one second and the next, they're head over heels. Being able to see the little moments they open up to each other and the slow progression of coming to understand each other and respect each other and eventually really care for each other is such a beautiful thing. And one of the best things about the romance, no matter how difficult it was for me to accept it, was that it wasn't by any means easy. Kestrel and Arin are two very realistic people who know their love for the other person is simply ridiculous and they never simply throw away everything they know to be with the one they love. They have to make sacrifices. They have to make really difficult decisions. Sometimes they have to hurt the other person or cause themselves pain because the world they live in is not at forgiving of their love. It's the kind of realistic, sacrificial love I can get behind and want more of. 

    There are still too many things to talk about and not nearly enough room! Even though Kestrel wasn't a brilliant fighter or a kick-ass lady with weapons like some of my favorite heroins, she was smart and clever and able to take care of herself. She never shied away from a challenge and though she was a very normal person, like myself, she did incredible things for those she loved. Neither of the main characters were perfect. There are many issues they still need to deal with before they will be able to truly come to know each other, but they were very human to me. If I can relate at all to characters that live in a make-believe world, than I feel like the author has accomplished something. 

     The writing is beautiful. The cover is beautiful. The world is beautiful. The characters are beautiful. I'm beautiful.....(just thought I would throw that one in to see if you were paying attention!) You should read it. Enough said.  

Oh hello there! My name is Emily, though some of you may know me as the Bookie Monster. As the name would suggest, I devour books like the Cookie Monster devours cookies. In my spare time, I like to bake cookies (and devour those as well) and dream about taking over the world. As if my book obsession wasn't life consuming enough,

I work in the children's room at my local library and I am currently a sophomore in college majoring in English. It's safe to say I'm a bit of a book fanatic. I discreetly shed a few tears on my eleventh birthday when I did not receive my Hogwarts acceptance letter and I waited seven hours outside in the rain just to get a good seat at the Hunger Games midnight premiere. I'm terrified of blood and Disney movies make me cry (in a good way). My passions include hippos, hugs, and Hans Zimmer…and uh,long walks on the beach. I'm just a normal girl w
ith a slightly abnormal and frightfully expensive obsession. Nice to meet you!


  1. I'm not a usual fan of this genre, but I can admit to loving this book because of the way Rutkoski brought the world to life through her words. It had just enough elements to make it so but not too much that non-readers like me would have a tough time imagining it.

    So happy you liked this book as much as I did!

  2. I'm so excited to read this. I've heard it's so good everywhere, and although I'm kind of mad at myself for not having acquired it yet, but it feels like in the future, I have this amazing, beautiful book to read and I can't help being extremely excited about that ;) Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  3. Glad you loved this one so much and that it lived up to the hype that has been going on about it.

  4. Someone recommended me this because I loved Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. And seeing so may great reviews about this book (including your review) I really want to read it ASAP. Yay for great review!! x

  5. I have only read good reviews on this one so far! It must be great!

  6. Ahhh so glad you enjoyed this! I need to pick it up very soon. :)

  7. Everyone is raving about this book so I suppose I had better get a copy soon and read it. I mean I would hate to be behind on the next Hunger Games :)

    Thanks for the great review!

  8. Yes!! Another good review!!! I really don't think I have seen one single negative review about this book. Everyone has been loving it and I can't wait to do that myself :D Awesome review Emily!
    Angel @ Spare Reads


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