“She shouldn’t have been tempted.”
I finished reading this book in 24 hours! Crazy, right? Honestly, I can’t figure out why I read it so fast. It wasn’t that this book was “unputdownable” exactly, but it did have a certain quality to it that made me want to carry on reading, especially towards the end.
I would say that The Winner’s Curse doesn’t get going until around chapter nine, when the beginning of a romance starts to blossom. However, although I found the first few chapters a little slow, Rutkoski’s writing is beautiful from the very first page. The language manages to be very descriptive without being unnecessary and pretty without becoming twee.
“The sun had lowered and caramelized the color of things.”
I enjoyed this book because, although the romantic story is a big part of the plot line, The Winner’s Curse is not without substance; it explores issues such as imbalance of power and the fine line between justice and corruption. The quote that I feel sums up the message that I gained from the book comes from chapter 8: “people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.” Rutkoski wrote this very cleverly into the book, and I didn’t see the double meaning behind the words until they were repeated, later on, with slightly different wording. Those who live in privileged conditions often choose to ignore the darkness in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
I initially didn’t care for the romance between Kestrel and Arin, as I didn’t see any obvious chemistry and thought that both were better suited to other people. As the book went on, and they spent more time together, I began to see how their various qualities complimented each other. This is a much more realistic portrayal of romance than is often shown in YA novels. There was no love at first sight, and a friendship was allowed to grow before the romance was explored. I actually found this quite refreshing. By the time I got about two-thirds of the way into the book, I was completely rooting for the couple, and I was devastated and angry with Kestrel when Arin’s inevitable betrayal came. To see how much he clearly cared for her and how torn he was between his loyalty to his people and his love for Kestrel was heartbreaking.
“I would let every single Valorian in this city die if it means that you don’t.”
Although this book does raise some important ethical questions, it is definitely a romance novel at heart, so, if romance isn’t your thing, proceed with caution. I, however, love a good love story and really enjoyed the book, despite its slow start. As I said earlier, the writing is beautiful and Rutkoski has built an amazing world in which her characters shine. I will definitely be reading the sequels and would recommend The Winner’s Curse to anyone who wants an unconventional romance with a few twists along the way.
“You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”