Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski Review

“A rich emotion played across his features, offered itself, and asked to be called by its name.
Hope.” – The Winner’s Curse

My Synopsis: This is a star crossed lovers story. Kestrel’s father is a famous, big shot general in the conquering country, Valoria, where war and honor are everything. Arin, now a slave, was a citizen of Herran before the Valorians invaded and presented its people with the choice of death or becoming slaves. Volorian tradition requires all women by the age of 20 to either join the military or marry. At 17, Kestrel is too independent for marriage and wants no part of the military. She’d rather just play the piano which is very taboo because music was something the Herrian people valued. Although Kestrel personally loathes the idea owning another person, on an impulse she can not really explain she ends up purchasing Arin at an auction on the streets of Herran. Arin hates all Valorians on principle, but the General is literally from his nightmares, so his distaste for Kestrel is particularly potent. That is until they actually get to know each other of course. =) But Arin isn’t just any slave…

                I really, really, REALLY liked this book. I had a very odd reaction at the end of the book. When I sat there and was reflecting on the story, I couldn’t think of any part that just really stood out to me. While a lot of things happened in the book, a lot seemed to happen off stage. After a lot of thinking, I figured it out. There is action in this book, plenty, but the thing is when there was action the scene wasn’t about the action. It was about the betrayal or the honor or the love, etc. It was about the people and their emotions no matter what the action level was, which brings me to what I loved about this book.

                I LOVED these characters. I loved the romance. Now the romance was predictable BUT it was real. It was not insta-love, but hard-won love.  And not just won from the other person, but winning the battle against themselves to love the other. The characters were incredibly well developed. They existed outside of the story. There were characteristics of the characters that played no role in the story other than being part of the character, and I liked that. It was real. Honestly, the book was all around good, but the characters are what sold me. The story could have been horrible (it wasn’t though) and I would still pick up the next book just so I could spend more time with Kestrel and Aron. It is just amazing how you can see so clearly their hearts, their minds, who they are that you are sitting there reading and not knowing who the heck you are rooting for. Even when you pick a country (Herran or Valoria), you hate the idea of that side winning because of how it effects the other person! This book really exemplifies why I could never be in the military. While there may be a truly evil person on the other side, 90% of the soldiers on the ground are really just fighting for what they believe in whether you or I personally believe it is right or not, and they all have families at home praying to whichever god they believe will answer for their safe return.  I understand war can sometimes be necessary. I think it was necessary in this book, but you get to feel that conflict because you have 2 characters in the exact same position on opposite sides of a war, both of whom you fall in love with.

                Quickly on the writing, I loved it. I thought the display of emotions was beautiful. The way the characters would sometimes, often really, refuse to recognize or name an emotion because they wanted to ignore it was real and poetic. Like I said before the romance was pretty predictable, but despite the fact I knew what the characters really felt for each other, some of my favorite moments were the moments when the characters were shocked by the realization of their feelings. The scenes were written as if the character’s stream of thought was a street and the realization an unseen pot hole. They just stumbled into the realization suddenly and unexpectedly. I could almost hear the characters gasp when it hit them. It was just written perfectly, very real. 4, nearly 5, stars.

Can NOT wait until the next book. I'm pretty sure it is going to be even better. =)

Video review coming soon...

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