Hey lovely readers!
Today’s post is a book review of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
“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.”
Alright guys, heads up. This review is not going to be nice. Basically if you loved or even liked this book, turn back because you probably won’t like my review. To be blunt, I kind of hated this book. I don’t remember where I heard about this book or why I decided to read it, but OMG I’m sorry I did. The synopsis seemed so intriguing. And the whole premise reminded me of Throne of Glass, which I loved and An Ember in the Ashes, which I’ve heard amazing things about. So I was excited, but no. Just no. The writing is good and I absolutely loved the detail in this book. It’s not annoyingly overdone like a lot of YA. But that’s pretty much where the good stops. Let’s start with the main character.
Kestrel is straight up awful. Like I want to punch her in the face awful. She literally does nothing in this book except fall in love and then turn her back on that person. You guys know that I love my romances and that’d largely what this story is. A beautiful and subtle romance, my favorite kind. But that does not excuse the blatant lack of respect shown to the other main character in the story, Arin. Basically Kestrel’s people, the Valorians, have enslaved Arin’s people, the Herrani simply because they could. And Kestrel, though stressed to the reader as different because she eventually grows to love Arin, does nothing to help right the wrongs of her people.
The treatment of the slaves, the Herrani in this story was atrocious. And by that I mean the way they were depicted. They are almost always described as tan skinned and “exotic” looking. Are you kidding? And they are never given context beyond this. Basically the entire book lacks depth, as is the problem with so much YA. (I’m not even going to touch on that, because this review would turn into an ugly rant if I did). But anyways… I just, this book is so problematic. I mean sure it’s a romance, but it’s also supposed to be about an enslaved people. So where is the depiction of said slavery. Where’s the proof of injustice. I’ll tell you where. Nowhere, because it is avoided like the plague, it’s skirted around. And that is just so infuriating. This book has such great potential to be a powerful story about slavery, discrimination, injustice, and the beauty of loving someone consequences be damned. Instead it hides behind a love story that ultimately falls short.
Again, you guys know I love my romance. But I guess I just wanted more from a story about a subjugated people. I suppose you could argue that the story happens as it does because it is largely from Kestrel’s point of view. And she herself is a slave owner, but still I couldn’t look past her ridiculous attitude. That yes, she loves Arin. But the world is the way it is, the Herrani are slaves and she will not betray her father. Like come on girl, you’re supposed to be the heroine of this story, step up and do something! I mean I do want to keep reading to see if things improve. But my gosh this one let me down hard. Please let me know what you thought if you read this and whether or not it’s worth continuing the series.
Thanks for reading guys! Talk to you soon! ❤ Adrianna
*Cover and synopsis from Goodreads