Synopsis and Review:
The Winner’s Curse follows Kestrel, the daughter of a general in a militaristic society, as she purchases a slave named Arin at a high cost. Not only will her life get more complicated as she has to deal with her attraction towards this slave, the life of her people will also get more complicated when they discover that peace is not guaranteed.
For me, The Winner’s Curse is extremely interesting as it features a lot of political stuff, which is one of my favourite things about a book. As The Winner’s Curse is set in a world where there are two countries at war, one can only imagine the number of people plotting and strategizing against each other in this book. Marie Rutkoski successfully maintains a certain amount of tension and suspense for the whole book such that readers will certainly get addicted whilst trying to figure out the plot.
Regarding the romance in the book, Marie Rutkoski is highly successful in terms of building it up slowly. Romance is heavily featured in The Winner’s Curse – in fact, I would say that it is one of the main themes of the book. It is wonderfully built and the chemistry between Kestrel and Arin is crafted perfectly. The attraction is visible to readers but at the same time, it is nothing like instant love.
However, while the romance is exciting and complicated, it is, unfortunately, not something that I have never read before. The dilemma caused by the different status and background of the characters has been used before in books (such as Romeo and Juliet). This may be slightly disappointing for people who want new things that they haven’t read before.
The same can be said about the general setting. While the detailed plot itself is certainly different from other books’ plots and it is quite unpredictable, the setting of The Winner’s Curse is nothing new. With two people falling in love while everything is at war, it certainly feels like a cliché. However, I believe that it is the way the author delivers that matters and Marie Rutkoski certainly delivered well.
Overall, the whole concept of The Winner’s Curse might be a little bit cliché, especially for those who have read a lot of young adult books. The book itself is strangely entertaining and intriguing though. As a result, I would not recommend this title to people who value originality more than anything. However, for those who don’t mind clichés, who just love an enjoyable read that is addicting, pick this gem up.