The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published March 4, 2014 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Hardcover, 355 pages
Borrowed from library
Reaction immediately after finishing: "OH MY GOD. What was the beauty I just read? I need The Winner's Crime in my hands NOW. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." HOLY FUDGE NUGGETS YOU GUYS. This book is goooood.
Don't let the hype scare you. DO NOT LET THE HYPE SCARE YOU.
I probably will not be helping the case with this review and I acknowledge that. I can't help wanting to shout my love for this book from every corner of the world because it gives me all types of feelies and squealies and tinglies that still stay with me even after finishing this book way back in July. Or June. But it is important to let you know that you should not let the hype scare you. And take this from me, a person who runs as fast as they can the other way from hyped books. I admit, they scare me! I'd rather avoid a book completely than be the only person on Earth who dislikes a book everyone else loves. Talk about the WORST feeling. Which is why it took me a while to get to The Winner's Curse but it happened. And I loved it. It was every bit as magical as the reviews suggested. And now I say that you should give it a shot. Obviously, it's not guaranteed that you'll like it but on the other hand, there is a very good chance that you will. All these readers can't be wrong, surely? So read it, read it, read it!
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the WORLD-BUILDING.
I don't read a lot of fantasy and even LESS high fantasy so world-building isn't something I pay too much attention to. I mean obviously you can't go without any world-building at all but I guess what I'm trying to say is that in contemporaries, the author doesn't have to describe every single detail because, well, we're all familiar with it, right? But with fantasies, and especially high fantasies where it's a complete different world, it is so important for the author to be able to bring their imagination to life on the page. It's really up to them, and them only, to show us what's going on because nobody else knows! So anyway, having said that, I feel like the world-building in The Winner's Curse was really fantastic. I was able to vividly imagine this country (which I don't think we were ever given an exact name for?) and I honestly felt like I was part of it. Like I was actually in the book watching from the sidelines. So A+ for that! I really did feel so immersed in this world and the story.
The Herrani and Valorian dynamic was very interesting.
So in this book, there are two... races, I suppose? We have the Herrani people and the Valorian people and it's very much the slave-master dynamic between the two. Not too long ago, there was a war between the two and the Valorians ended up conquering the Herrani and summoned them to a life of slavery and poverty. And so obviously, the Herrani are NOT happy with this arrangement and want to get back their freedom and equality again. One of my favourite parts of this book was seeing how this into Kestrel and Arin's story. I'VE ALREADY SAID TOO MUCH. But basically, Arin is Kestrel's slave which translates into Arin is Herrani and Kestrel is Valorian which means they should hate each other but they don't which means trouble. You'll see...
Speaking of Kestrel and Arin, they were beautiful together.
I ship it 100%! And if my ship gets f**king ruined, I will scream. SCREAM. For those of you afraid of instalove, there is NO instalove here. Actually in this book, we have one of my favourite tropes ever: the hate-to-love trope! It always gets to be so exciting and so wrought with emotions and THIS BOOK GAVE ME FEELS. SO MANY FEELS. ALL THE FEELS. FEELS FEELS FEELS FEELS FEELS. I'm still not okay.
I could not stop flipping the pages!
I seriously could not put down this book. I mean, obviously the romance was great and so was the plot and the world but the best part? Rutkoski's writing. SOO BEAUTIFUL. Usually I feel like third person narratives detach me from the story, like it puts a barrier between me and the characters but not with this book. The third person narrative actually worked so wonderfully and the words. Oh my, the words. Marie Rutkoski has a way with words, let me tell you. And she is exactly the person that makes me seethe because why can't I write so beautifully? But on top of how GORGEOUS her writing was, it was also kinda brilliant how much she was able to fit into 350 pages. Like no offense but it makes the other books I've read with 300 pages look shabby in comparison. Really though, Marie Rutkoski achieves so much in these pages. She has the character development, she has the fabulous world-building, she has EXCITEMENT and she has you flipping through emotions like crazy. One second you'll be laughing, the other you'll be hanging onto the book for dear life in fear of what's going to happen next. And then before you know it, it'll be over and you'll be shedding a tear or too.
I really enjoyed reading The Winner's Curse. I felt myself flipping the pages as fast as I could just because I was so immersed int the story. I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the world-building and basically everything. Everything about this book was so good and now it's like why didn't I read this book sooner? Why did I wait so long? Because it was everything I hoped it would be and more. Well-deserving of all the praise and hype it gets. Bravo!
people who like high fantasies and don't mind a little romance. Or if you like romance but want a different type of romance. Or simply, if you're looking for a good book to read.
Thea @ The Book Smugglers gives it a good, but with some sizable reservations: "This brings me to the most frustrating thing about The Winner’s Curse: the book’s lack of substance. Sure, there are nominally high stakes, but really? This is a book light on repercussions and heavy on trivialities."
Kelly @ Effortlessly Reading gives it 4 stars: "The Winner’s Curse is made out of feels. I don’t know how else to describe it – every single page (except for the first one-third of the book or so) is made out of feels. I felt for Arin’s situation and hurt for him, but on the other hand, I also felt for Kestrel’s situation and understood her anger."