Review of first book if unfamiliar with series> “The Winner’s Curse” Book Review
I read a lot of fantasy books. It’s my favorite genre, so it only makes sense. However, even I get sick of fantasy on occasion. When I read too much of a genre, I tend to become more picky and find that books start to lose their uniqueness and instead feel like I’m reading the same story. Over. and. over. again. Too many fantasy books, especially in the YA genre, feel like fantasy-lite, romance heavy books.
Last year, when I read “The Winner’s Curse”, I found that this book fell into the same trap. I found the world building to be lacking, the plot to be dull, and I wasn’t planning on reading the sequel. However, given the hype this series receives, I decided to give Kestrel and Arin’s story a second chance. I was definitely not disappointed this time around.
I can’t be too specific in this review because I don’t want to spoil the first or second book in this trilogy, but I will simply say that Marie Rutkoski has stepped her game up in this book. While the romance still has a part in the story, it has backed down and the world building and plot has improved drastically. This is definitely not a fast paced book, however I couldn’t help but struggle to put it down.
Even in the first book, I adored Rutkoski’s writing style and I was pleased to see that it was just as wonderful. She has such a way with words that really evokes emotion. From creating tension in the air, the beautiful descriptions of the land, and even simply demonstrating how the characters are feeling, she does an excellent job. Only great writing can do that for me. She comes off as an author that really chooses her words wisely and really takes her time with the story.
One of the other things I loved in this story was the plot. This book had much more going on than the first book, and I was really impressed by just how brutal the story could become. (almost too brutal for me to handle…) There may be no epic fight sequences, but I always felt like anything could happen at anytime in this book. No one seemed safe. I also was shocked by the ending and could not believe just evil Marie Rutkoski is. Not only was it emotionally devastating, but the way it ends is so cliffhangery. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO US? (Waiting a year will be tooooorture)
The characters really grew on me in this story. I actually recently skimmed through the first book to give myself a refresher, and I already seemed to like the characters more than I remembered. However, in this book, IN THIS AWFUL BOOK, the characters ruined me. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point in the book, I was literally freaking out every time Kestrel and Arin met. I didn’t expect to have such strong feelings towards them. And, by strong, I mean
if they don’t end up together in the end and get eternal happiness I will destroy be very mad at the author. This book had so much angst. My, god. Now, usually I hate angst and keeping things from your loved one, but everything the characters did made sense. Sure, maybe I hated how Kestrel had to do what she did in regards to Arin, but I get it. I also admired how each character had their own storyline and did their own things. Kestrel and Arin weren’t super dependent on each other. But, ugh. This book was so painful. SO many times I was screaming at the characters to just be together. sigh. I do understand. The only that really bugged in this book was Kestrel’s behavior at the end of the book. Something happens where you know it won’t end well, but she still tries to do what she thinks is noble. Like, come one? Kestrel, don’t be stupid. Ugh.
Overall, I really loved this book. If you thought this book was just okay like I originally did, you’ll most likely like it much better. And, if you already liked the first one? Well, then you definitely will love this one. Such a great book.