C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-2014, young-adult, epic-fantasy, read-2016, reread

HELLO LOOK AT ME RE-READING BOOKS LIKE AN EPIC FISHLY NERD. Ahem. Okay, let me explain. I never re-read books. There are too many new ones I must devour at dawn??? But here I am anyway because I needed to refresh myself for the 3rd book. I knew I liked this series but, my brain = deleted all details.

So the biggest thing to note is: MY RATING HAS GONE UP A WHOLE STAR! I adore this book. I honestly wanted to give it 5-stars, but I'll settle at like 4.5-stars because I still think it was a little hard to understand Kestrel's soft spot for the Herrani over her own people. I mean, apart from adoring the ridiculously kissable Arin. But. Still.

ANYWAY. I'm just going to write a little list of my thoughts. An actual intelligent review is below, from my first-time-reading it in 2014 if you wish to peruse it. ALTHOUGH...I kinda think I was in a bad mood that day??? Because duuuude, no. This book is everything.

Things To Note And Perhaps Shriek About:

• Kestrel is my FAVOURITE because she is smart and quiet and small and kind of weak on the battle field but oh so intelligent. She blackmails. She deduces. She has a snippy answer for you if you're stupid. She is kind. But she will stab you. BASICALLY HUZZAH FOR A GIRL WHO CANNOT PUNCH BUT CAN BLACKMAIL YOUR SOCKS OFF.
• Arin...baby Arin omg. Okay I forget he was 19? But he still does a lot for a 19yo. aHem. I liked Arin more in this re-read even though he is somewhat still a MELON BRAINED JERK.
• But I forgive him.
• Because this is a ship I shippily ship.
• Why? Because a) Arin brained Kestrel's hair, and b) Arin sewed Kestrel's button back on and c) ARIN SAID HE WOULD DO ANYTHING TO KEEP KESTREL ALIVE AND THAT IS ADORABLE.
• Although I have to admit I really dislike the naming theme in this book. Because there isn't one. I mean we have Ronan (?? Irish ???) and Jess (?? Hebrew ???) and Arin (?? more misspelled Hebrew ??) and then Kestrel (?? funky bird ??) and I jsut really didn't like how there was no pattern, okay?
• I also adore how short and concise the story was. It never rambled. Let me hold it and cry.
• It's so REFRESHING to read books that can build a world and be awesome and stab people all in only 300 or so pages. Omg blessings on this book.
• The cover is still gorgeous. My opinion on THAT has not wavered. #bestcoverever
• The way Kestrel would literally give up ANYTHING in order to keep her piano-playing-fingers safe? <3 Woman. I admire you.
• Also I only wanted to slap Arin, like, 6 times...compared to the previous 39839 times, so I like that.
• I still am furious about how they refuse to acknowledge each other's feelings. CHILDREN, CONFESS YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER RIGHT NOW OR TIME OUT.
• And the cliffhanger still makes me twitch an eye and shriek sporadically for 93 minutes. BUT! Good news is I now have The Winner's Crime to read straight after.
• Seriously whyyyyyy do I EVER read series before they're all out? Idek. My brain should not be trusted to make life decisions.
• Least to say: I am a hugely enthusiastic fan of this series. It's actiony but yet it focuses on strategy and the psychology of battle and emotion. And it has stabby moments and pretty-dress-finding moments and betrayals and alliances and muuuuuurder everywhere. Plus it's epic and concise. I really cannot even with this precious creature. I must go hug it once more.
• Farewell.


FIRST READ & REVIEWED: April 24th, 2014.
Initial Rating: ★★★✩✩ [3-stars]

To say I was “freakishly and psychotically excited” about this book is an understatement. I WAS DOING THE HULA WHEN I GOT IT. HUZZAH. Get me a comfy cushion and some hot chocolate and let’s devour this gorgeous specimen in one sitting!

Well, I a) devoured the book in one sitting, but b) without hot chocolate. (That was a horrific tragedy, I know, I know.) Did I like it? Well, it’s complicated.

I loved it, I hated it. THE WINNER’S CURSE has me torn, that’s for sure. Because lists rock, let’s go List-tastic on this, shall we?

What Had Me Gloriously Impressed?

- The setting! OH GOSH. Can we take a minute to appreciate the world-building of this book?! I read in the author’s note that it’s inspired by the Greco-Roman period. Think slaves and villas and horses and ball gowns. It was super refreshing and interesting. FINALLY. Something new! (Although, I actually thought it was sci-fi when I picked it up…huh. Funny, life, innit?) There is no technology though! Just to be clear…because it did take me a while to figure out if there was or not.
- Kestrel! I love how Kestrel proves you can be strong and tough and absolutely kick-butt…without even drawing blood. She’s an amazing girl and well written!
- The detailed and extravagant plot! I tend to get hopelessly fuddled when books delve into the political side, but THE WINNER’S CURSE had all the trimmings of a political war PLUS kept my brain on the page. Go me! (Probably, go this talented author, actually. But whatever. I deserve a self-five too.) The details were blow-my-socks-off. The twists kept me guessing and impressed.
- Peoples, it was just a very well written book! That’s the bottom line of the matter! So why am I whining? Okay, let me explain…

What Had Me Gloriously Furious?

- Why do we have to keep flogging the sexism plot device? Frankly, I’m tired of it! Sexism is a real curse of modern society and it’s a pretty black shadow on our history. So when you create a fantasy world TOTALLY DETACHED from our own…why do we need to use the same cultural trials?? I’m just tired of it, honestly. There’s plenty of racism and sexism in THE WINNER’S CURSE and while both are completely interesting plot devices to explore, I kind of wondered what the purpose to the sexism one was. I mean, women could go into the army, but they couldn’t go into town without an escort? They were also constantly belittled by men. Excuse me while I go sigh in the corner.
- Arin and Kestrel sittin’ in a tree, H-A-T-I-N-G each other. Where was the romance? What was the connection? As I saw it, it was pretty one sided (and that was Kestrel wanting to be friends and Arin being the perfect brute). At the same time, I really admired Arin. Obviously life isn’t easy being beaten around with no rights as a stinky household slave. BUT. Dude…you were ever NICE to Kestrel. How am I supposed to ship you guys? I did not ship Kestrel and Arin. Not even ONCE. I didn’t hate Arin! No! We actually get to see from his POV quite a bit (which provides delicious tension), so I didn’t hate him. As individual characters, Kestrel and Arin are excellent. As a couple? How about no.
- It was freaking boring in places. You love me ‘cause I’m honest, don’t you? I’m not going to lie: the writing was astoundingly brilliant. The plot just got soooo daaaang sloooow in places I could have easily nodded off.

(view spoiler)

What do I rate it?

I liked this book! I did! It was brilliant and fresh and original. But I can’t ignore boredom, peoples, and I can’t understand a lot of the characters’ motivations.

The cover does rock, though. Don’t you adore it? I absolutely adore it.
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Reading Progress

August 28, 2013 – Shelved
August 28, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 24, 2014 – Shelved as: epic-fantasy
April 6, 2016 –
page 125
35.21% "That awkward moment when you decide you want to read a series finale...AND REALISE YOU REMEMBER 2% ABOUT THE FIRST BOOK OMG.\n \n Re-read time, peoples."
April 6, 2016 –
page 202
56.9% "Arin braided her hair. HER HAIR. I forgot that part.\n *ships aggressively*"
April 7, 2016 – Started Reading
April 7, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
April 7, 2016 – Shelved as: reread
April 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine I mentioned this on your Stacking the Shelves post but I was on the fence about reading this one. Didn't seem like something up my alley, even though almost everyone has been raving about it. Sounds like I made the right decision not reading it. It doesn't sound like the relationship worked and I would totally have the same problems with it as you did. And slow moving at times? That would cause me to put the book down and procrastinate reading. There must be something about this book that has everyone enthralled but I'm going to have to go with my gut and your fabulous reviewing skills and pass.

C.G. Drews I'm a little bit worried that I missed the "Awesome Thing" that everyone raves about...I just...yeah. No? lol!! It wasn't for me particularly. And if you were on the fence anyway, I'd definitely say skip. ;) N'awww, but fabulous review skills?! YOU MAKE ME BLUSH.

Lulufrances i friggin love the way you review. have some cake!

C.G. Drews @Lulufrances: ZOMG THANK YOU. :')

message 5: by Nina (Every Word A Doorway) (last edited Apr 07, 2016 02:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nina (Every Word A Doorway) I enjoyed reading your review, even though I do not agree with everything. And it's a 4-star rating, so my Rutkoski-loving self is happy ;)
To respond to your spoiler: (view spoiler)

message 6: by Firefly (new) - added it

Firefly This review [the newer update] made me smile when I was feeling down, so thank you :D Your posts/reviews never fail to make me laugh/smile - except for your Dead Boy Paper Cut story, which makes me cry - I love them.

C.G. Drews @Nina: To respond to your spoiler: (view spoiler) But squeeee, I'm so happy I love this series more the second time round! :')

@Firefly: OMGGG. YOU ARE SO NICE. And I'm glad it made you smile...and I'm secretly glad The Dead Boy makes you cry ahem wait I did not confess that.

Nina (Every Word A Doorway) Cait Grace wrote: "@Nina: To respond to your spoiler: [spoilers removed] But squeeee, I'm so happy I love this series more the second time round! :')"

Hmm I haven't thought about it from this angle, and you do sort of have a point there! (view spoiler) I also didn't realize it was a re-read (silly me) but I'm glad you're enjoying this more the second time around :))

Gelisvb I get the whole"why the soft spot for the herrani?" but later i thoyght: who cares? this is the best Ya conclusion ever

Shannon Gamby Why should anyone from the rebellion have shown Kestrel respect though? They were her slaves; badly-treated, humiliated, and dehumanised for years.

Varian // Well-Read Rebel Never could really get behind this book. The way slavery was so poorly handled just...ew. But I'm glad you found in enjoyable.

Rachel Rae I JUST FINISHED THE BOOK (I know I'm like five years late but I'm here!!) and needed to go look at the reviews so I can relate with all the feels 😂😂😭😭😭 Heeelp. I need a hug. And cake. Your review helps cope with the cliffhanger. I'm onto the next book as soon as I can get my hands on it 🥰


message 14: by TMR (new) - added it

TMR I love the gushing really I do. Good to hear you liked it.

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