The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski | Rating: ★★★★★
“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”
From 2014. The Winner's Curse is the first book in a planned trilogy by the wonderful Marie Rutkoski and all I can say, right now, is WOW. If there's only one word I can use to review this story it's, seriously, wow. Marie's imagination, the world and its history she crafted, is one that cannot be described coherently. I literally can't explain it without babbling in a tone that is the scariest form of fangirl.
But I can say this: it is one of the best young adult fantasy novels I've ever read and keeps its readers thoroughly engaged until its final pages. I promise you, you will be so invested in this story that you simply will not be able to bring yourself to put it down. Beautifully crafted and warm, it gives you all the feelings a good book should and is a stellar start to what is shaping up to be one of the best young adult trilogies in present time.
The Winner's Curse is a vivid, thrilling, fantasy ride that tells us a tale of war, forbidden love, loss and tragedy. Not only is the world fascinating and well crafted, the characters are intriguing and larger that life -- they are sexy, they are strong and they are among the most fascinating I've ever read. They come to life right before your eyes and make it so it's impossible to not love them, regardless of flaws and obstacles. And, by series end, betrayal.
We're given two phenomenal main characters -- Kestrel and Arin, both are a delight to read from because they are strong, they are thoughtful, they are mysterious and they are flawed. Neither are saints, neither are always kind and shiny -- they are undeniable real. It's everything you can ask for and certainly reminds us that young adult literature often doesn't get the credit it deserves.
This book is perfect for teenagers and adults, it is something that is so vivid and bright and dangerous that its audience can be of any age. Whereas sometimes young adult stories can exclude adults and seem to lack a sparkle of maturity, The Winner's Curse grabs its readers by the throat and keeps us put no matter our age. Frankly, I don't think readers will notice that it is a young adult book -- it certainly doesn't feel like it. It leaves you wondering, thinking, what could possibly happen next -- it breaks our hearts, puts them back together only to destroy us all over again.
Did I mention it's incredible? The Winner's Curse draws you into this dark, dangerous world and refuses to let you go. You may at times grow angry with it, rightfully so, but it's impossible not to love. Marie Rutkoski hits all the right marks and provides us with the next great fantasy novel that could very well be the next big literature franchise. I recommend this to any and everyone and encourage you to fall in love with it like I have. I will be patiently, ha-ha-ha yeah right, waiting for the sequel because I simply cannot get enough of this story, these characters and the promise of twists and turns and adventures and steamy romance.