Author: Marie Rutkoski
First Published: March 4th, 2014
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Available As: Hardcover, paperback, ebook
My Copy: eBook
My Rating: 9/10
This book was great, on all sorts of levels.
You don't get a lot of books in the YA genre dealing with touchy topics such as slavery and racism. In The Winner's Curse, the Valorians and the Herrani are enemies of one another. The Valorians conquered the Herrani Peninsula in the past, forcing them to all become slaves. The topic of slavery can be butchered easily, causing offence or inaccuracy in books, but Rutkoski does a great job of portraying it.
Kestrel is a strong female protagonist, but she makes the stupidest decisions sometimes! She is also quite stubborn, since she never tries to see things from the Herrani point of view. All she believes is that the Valorian are superior and that the Herrani deserve to be where they are now. But I guess if she was brought up on these types of ideas, it will be difficult to see history in a new light. She's also very smart! Her insight on battle strategy proves that she can be very cunning when she wants to be.
Another subplot of the book is that Kestrel's father wants her to become a soldier. There are two choices: be a soldier or marry. It's not everyday you get a strong female protagonist who refuses to fight. Yes, you read that right. Kestrel refuses to become a soldier and she isn't a good fighter. Her combat skills are basic, and she relies on blackmail and manipulation to win her battles. Again, this shows that she's smart. So why doesn't she want to be a soldier in her father's army? It's never specified exactly in the book, but I think it's because Kestrel - deep down - doesn't want to accept the responsibility that comes with becoming a soldier, and she would rather sit and do girly things with Jess, her best friend.
Arin is my favourite! He's sneaky, mysterious and hides most of what he thinks. Although, it's pretty obvious that he is in love with Kestrel. Does Kestrel love Arin back? For her, it's like a love/hate relationship. But I like how Arin doesn't let his feelings for Kestrel blind his judgement.
I love this book! It's a mix between Dystopia and (some hints of) Fantasy, though not too much. I will definitely be buying the next book!
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