Imagine a world where slavery is common, arts and music are all but forbidden, and your only choices are marriage or military. That is what Marie Rutkoski gives us in her new novel, “The Winner’s Curse,” the first novel of the planned trilogy is set to be released on March 4.
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.
“The Winner’s Curse” brings us Kestrel, a wealthy young woman of a prominent family in an expansionist society. Kestrel doesn’t have magic powers and isn’t the one true hope of the world, but she is smart, crafty, and above all else she thinks for her self. Despite being told all her life that she can’t play music and she must marry someone or join the military, she continues to be true to herself. At one point her best friend Jess even berates her for not being proper which causes Kestrel to wonder if Jess is embarrassed of her. It takes real courage to be yourself in the face of pressure and adversity and readers will admire her for just that.
We have all felt out of place or “weird” and Rutkoski brings that to life. It allows readers to identify with her in a unique way.
This book will grip you from the very first page with twists and turns at every corner. The novel rushes full force through every page as you grow with Kestrel and learn to see things from the side of Arin.
What I think sets this book apart form the various YA novel series out there right now is its focus on the political and societal world created by the author. There is no true love triangle or government conspiracy. We have a young girl who is thrust into a rebellion that she inadvertently causes and it will change everything forever. Kestrel is definitely a role model for readers while keeping up with an action packed story.