Book 82 of 2015: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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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.

I love this book. I had a serious fangirl moment from the beginning to the end. So much so that I bought the sequel in audiobook to continue with the experience I had with this book. I should add that I checked out the audiobook of The Winner’s Curse from my library and finished it in a manner of days.

The narration is beautiful. The reader gives accents to the characters, giving them a lifelike quality to them. I could see Kestrel in all her Valorian awesomeness giving Arin a piece of her mind. I could see the horrors of the slave auction. I was chewing my nails hoping for a good outcome during certain events (I love this book so much I might actually spill the beans about it).

Kestrel is a strong young woman who wants to live her life her way. She doesn’t care for slavery, but has slaves. She doesn’t want to join the military or marry, but knows that her life is divided by those choices alone. Arin is a slave who hates it. He remembers the days of freedom and those memories stoke the passion within them. Add in strategy and amazing culture and you have a great trilogy.

The world is amazing. Each country has their own culture that is believeable and can be compared to cultures much like we have throughout history. So many fantasy books has the culture as a separate entity in the writing. The culture feels like exposition and doesn’t flow freely through the composition. Not in this book. I didn’t feel confused or pushed away from the scene just to get a history lesson.

I really don’t know what else I could say that wouldn’t give anything away. Oh wait! Yes, this is a young adult, but it’s not a typical young adult. There isn’t insta-love. There is something that makes the reader root for the characters. Half the time I was rooting for them, the other half I was rooting for their respective cultures. This IS a book you NEED. I am serious.

Now I just need to finish up my other books so that I can listen to the second book!

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