The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
She reminded herself bitterly that this was what curiosity had bought her: fifty keystones for a singer who refused to sing, a friend who wasn’t her friend, someone who was hers and yet would never be hers.
The Winner’s Curse is now one of my favorite books. I wanted to read it ever since Marie Rutkoski had accepted my impulsive friend request on Goodreads. Har-har. And now that I’ve devoured her book, I’m so happy she indulged my audacity. I’m normally a polygamist reader, but I just cannot let any other book get in the way of me continuing this potentially emotional trilogy.
With the exception of its setting, The Winner’s Curse is not fantastical. It actually gave me a lot of YA contemporary feels. However, this is not your typical love story. To be more precise, Kestrel and Arin thankfully did not suffer from instalove. Otherwise, I would have given this book two stars. :p
The best thing I liked about The Winner’s Curse was its emphasis on political drama. In light of their very different backgrounds (i.e. as the colonizer and the colonized), these two characters were forbidden to form any sort of meaningful connection. Throughout the novel, their happiness was dampened by the threat of war, death, and social disgrace. In light of these complications, Kestrel and Arin became very cunning and skeptical, even towards each other. This gave their relationship a competitive aspect, which I definitely enjoyed. Overall, the political intrigue in this book made the plot and characters very compelling.
I cannot write this review without praising the author’s writing style. Personally, I can only describe it as the perfect balance between prose and poetry. I loved the narrative and dialogues because they were written in a musical way that often tugged at my heartstrings. As an aspiring novelist, I would love to be mentored by Marie Rutkoski.
I’m honestly having a hard time pointing out the weak points of this book. I did not give it five stars just because Arin sometimes got on my nerves. I was particularly annoyed every time he said mean things to Kestrel. I sympathized with his oppressed status in society, but I could not help but flinch at his insensitivity.
In conclusion, The Winner’s Curse gave me an emotional and memorable reading experience. I’ve always been a fan of political and worthwhile drama, so I had no trouble getting into the story. I would be more than willing to reread it someday.