Narrator: Justine Eyre
Series: The Winner's Trilogy,
Published by Listening Library on 04 March 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Magic, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 24 minutes
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Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown Fictional World
First Line(s): She shouldn’t have been tempted.
Pretty cover? Check.
Pretty words? Check.
Pretty story? For me, not so much.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a fantasy (yet not a fantasy) novel that came to me highly recommended. Its a book that I was unsure of when I first read the synopsis but all I kept hearing was how good it was. That the story was amazing and the main charater was a strong heroine with an epic swoon worthy love. So I gave in and downloaded the audio and started to listen and it wasn’t long before I began to wonder what all the hype was about because NOTHING HAPPENED IN THIS BOOK. I mean seriously, nothing happened. Kestrel buys a slave, she talks to said slave and tells him ALL THE THINGS. He in return just broods and tells her nothing in return. And yet. They fall in love.
Kestrel goes to parties and talks dresses and clothes, obsesses over her conflicted feelings for Arin, and complains that she has no choices in the world except to get married or join the military. Her struggles are real and her life is so hard and she doesn’t understand why the country that her people has occupied for the last decade would be unhappy. She’s also absolutely shocked that these same people, who are now slaves in their own country, know her people’s language. Because you know, they would have learned nothing in the ten years of occupation or the countless years prior when they were a free people and used to trade with Kestrel’s. She’s shocked they they seem to be intelligent thinkers when she mentions that before the occupation her people didn’t have books or use utensils but hers is, of course, the better race.
*insert much sighing and eye rolling by me*
I just…I just couldn’t with this book. I tried. I really did and I listened to it until the bitter end because even though I had serious issues with the stories and the lack of anything going on I did like the narrator, Justine Eyre. Her narration kept me invested when I would have totally given up on the print. Despite all the urgings from friends who kept telling me to stick with it that the ending made up for all that came before. And while that may have been true for some that wasn’t the case for me. Yes, things happen at the end but its a rush and a jumble and it starts and end within the last 100 pages or so. In my option, I don’t think you should have to wait an entire books for something to happen. No matter how pretty the words are up until that point.
Because yes, despite all of its many flaws, The Winner’s Curse was very prettily written. It was a flowery and oft times repetitive text repeating things that we already knew but with Eyre’s narration it had this hypnotic quality that kept me listening. The Winner’s Curse wasn’t a book for me and yet I am still debating on if I want to read The Winner’s Crime or not. I do tend to be a glutton for punishment but it isn’t unheard of for me to dislike the first book in a series and then grow to like it as it progresses.
People Who Liked This Book Better Than I Did:
Alice Marvels – An utterly captivating story of forbidden love and political upheaval that will leave you breathlessly anticipating the sequel.
Cuddlebuggery – What I really loved about the book was that even though at the heart of the story it’s a romance, neither Arin or Kestrel allows their relationship to dominate their common sense.
Miss Print – Secrets and lies are key to both Kestrel and Arin’s characters, creating a story that is as much about what is said as it is about subtext. This novel is brimming with non-verbal communication and other subtle cues that Rutkoski expertly manipulates as a story of love and other–somewhat darker–matters slowly unfolds.