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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse is a young adult book (YA) classified as a Dystopian novel but to me it was more a Fantasy/Romance crossover. While the romance is dramatic, in that it draws you in, and the writing is quite beautiful and clever at times, I found the characters and the storyline of the novel to be very simplistic and a little cliché. Still, the Winner’s Curse is an entertaining and sometimes intriguing book.

The Winner's Curse
Kestrel is the 17 year old daughter of the powerful General of the Valorian Empire – the victors of the war with the Herrani people. Like all Valorian youth, Kestrel is trained in basic military self-defence so that when she becomes of age, she has to make a choice to join the military or get married. Kestrel finds neither appealing.

At the marketplace one day, Kestrel observes a Herrani slave auction and surprises herself, and everyone else, by bidding on a young male slave, Arin. Kestrel is attracted to his reputation for being a fine singer which aligns with her scorned upon passion for music. Little did Kestrel know that this spontaneous decision would begin a complicated relationship of forbidden love and this, combined with the fact that Arin is the holder of a dark secret that could be the undoing of the Empire, makes for an interesting plot.

Kestrel is strategic, clever and cunning, but I found that she seemed to overcome all the challenges in the book too easily. This lead to parts of the book being too unrealistic for my liking. (Spoiler) In one section Kestrel managed to stop a war from happening with a simple conversation that took less than a chapter. It seems that any obstacle that Kestrel faced was effortlessly overcome due to her tactical mind.

Even though The Winner's Curse has a lack of depth in places, I think that it has a certain charm that makes you want to keep reading until the end. Be prepared for the story to have a slow start knowing that it will become more interesting about two thirds of the way through.

Overall a good read for those who like history, romance, fantasy/dystopian genre.

By Aimee, Age 14

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