Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: July 3rd, 2014 
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5

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.

NOTE: Massive apologies for not getting a review out last week. I've been having a bit of a rough time these past few weeks with some health issues (nothing serious, just very annoying). Because of that, this review is also not up to scratch. But I don't know when I'll be back to 100% so I figure I should get back into my routine ASAP. Moral of the review is - GREAT BOOK. GREAT HEROINE GO READ.

I love romance.

If you know me very well, you might think I'm joking because I'm often incredibly critical of romance in fiction. If a book/tv show/film is marketed strictly as a romance, then I will probably avoid it until I am absolutely sure that it won't enrage or bore me. Most of the time, I prefer my romance to be a PART of the fiction that I'm consuming, rather than the main focus.

I also find that a lot of romantic fiction reduces the female protagonists to simpering idiots with no ambitions or goals other than their love interest. Not very feminist, yo. And this is a BIG ISSUE. Because there are so many great romances out there, you just need to find them buried beneath the grossness.

Honestly, if a romance is done well then it will probably CONSUME MY SOUL. Take Bellarke for example. (Don't know what a Bellarke is? FIND OUT YOU MUFFINS)

So I avoided The Winner's Curse. I avoided it because the synopsis sounded a little bit too romancey for me. It sounded like it would be one of those books that had its heroine fall in love either too easily, or too stupidly. It sounded like it would have one of those heroines that throws aside everything in their life for the sake of their love interest. I even thought the cover, though beautiful, promised something different to what the book delivered.

Because DUDE, I LOVED this book. This was romance done right.

And I think this is incredibly important. People scoff at the idea of romance, people act as if romance is just something that silly teenagers mess themselves up over. But that view is so hypocritical. So much of the world revolves around romance. HUMANITY does. So it's little wonder that we want to see it and read about it. Therefore it is essential that the romance presented through all sorts of media is the RIGHT kind of romance.

That doesn't mean that every relationship has to be perfect, or that there can't be any conflict. It simply needs to be real.

The Winner's Curse felt very real.

Kestrel is a brilliant heroine for a number of reasons. Her inner turmoil feels believable. She has a 'girly-girl' friend who she never thinks negatively about, and who she loves very dearly. She is part of a culture where women can be warriors. That said, I really appreciated that Kestrel was not a great soldier. She's more of a tactician and I LOVED that. She can look after herself, don't get me wrong, but she is a  person that THINKS her way out of a situation. I don't have anything against physically strong female protagonists, but this variety was nice to see.

But Kestrel is also a brilliant protagonist because of the way she works her way through the romance in this book. I actually don't want to go into detail, because I don't want to spoil anything. But there are a number of times where Kestrel could have done the stupid thing, or the selfish thing. But she is smart from beginning to end. Having a heroine act this way just makes the whole forbidden romance that much more powerful. Because the angst makes sense! Instead of wanting to bash Kestrel's head against a wall for being an idiot, I find myself wanting to salute her even as my heart breaks.


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