Review (reread): “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski

(And by “reread” I mean I listened to this on CD while driving to and from work. Hehe.)

Can I even talk about this series enough? Initially, I reread this because of the North Texas Teen Book Festival and the fact that the author was there, but I didn’t finish it in time. Regardless, I loved the book more than the first time I read it.

The narrator for the audiobook is Justine Eyre and she does a fantastic job narrating. I’ve learned listening to audiobooks that a narrator can really make or break it for me. (I listened to The Wrath and the Dawn on audiobook and wonder if I would have liked the book more if I had read the physical copy…) She added an accent for the Valorians while the Herrani sounded normal, which really added to the overall story.

(featuring the new paperback edition! :0 )

Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release date: March 14, 2014
Length: 355 pages (hardcover — The picture is the new paperback edition. The audiobook was 7 CDs.)
Audiobook Narrator: Justine Eyre
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads) “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.”

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

I’m bumping up my original rating of 4 stars to 4.5 because reading this the second time around was even more fantastic and I’m more in love with the characters and the story this time. I think this might be due to the fact that I’ve read the entire series so now I can see how Rutkoski laid things out to come together in the final book.

I analyzed the characters a bit more this time. Kestrel’s desperate urge to please her father when all he cared about was that she enlisted in the military. The growing love and tension between Kestrel and Arin–their intellectual attraction to one another. The way Kestrel unknowingly and unintentionally ostracized herself from society due to certain events in the book that dealt with Arin.

Their kisses. Painfully beautiful because they both want it but they’re both so afraid.

I realized, too, that Kestrel is a coward. Those might be harsh words but she couldn’t face the truth. She ran away from it, both ways–away from Arin and also away from her father. She didn’t want to admit her growing feelings for Arin, and she ran right back to her father, and finally gained his approval by agreeing to the emperor’s wishes. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Kestrel to return to Herran and face Arin afterwards. It was heartbreaking the first time and even more so the second.

Rutkoski writes beautifully, poetically even. The world building is lush, full, and vibrant. I seriously loved just about every single thing.

I cannot express my love for this series enough. I’m going to find the 2nd book on CDs and listen to it because it’s perfection. Re-reading just makes the final book even lovelier.

Now to appease myself with a bunch of edits, like the ones I’ve gathered on Pinterest! Huzzah!

4 thoughts on “Review (reread): “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski

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