After having read a lot of books that have been hyped to the point of no return, I must admit I was torn between two feelings when I spotted a copy at our local bookstore. First, I was excited, and then I was terrified. "What if I end up not liking this book after I spent so many months coveting it?" I remember half-whispering to my co-blogger as I adoringly stroked the gorgeous cover at the bookstore.
My dismal - and panicky- thoughts were quelled, however, when I was just a chapter in. As of late, I could pretty much predict the overall rating of the book based on the first few chapters alone, having had only a few who changed my ratings. In this case, I was all smiles as I settled in with this book, never mind the fact that I should have been hurriedly packing my luggage for my vacation.
In one fell swoop, The Winner's Curse won me over with its fantastic, well-paced plot, splendid multi-faceted characters, and seductive thralls of power, danger, and love.
As Kestrel's seventeenth birthday looms, she is given two choices: she either joins the military, or she must find herself wedded. Neither of the options are truly appealing to Kestrel, whose musical abilities are an eccentricity only overlooked because of her status as the general's daughter. When she is lured to purchase a slave who can sing, Kestrel seems to have gotten more than she has bargained for. Not only does Arin open up a heart that should only be open to the upper echelon of her glittering society, but he opens her eyes to the painful reality that her society has shrouded. Kestrel must decide which should rule over which: the mind, or the heart?
What I loved about this book was how it quickly captures the interest of readers - the spectacular cover, the alluring pull of the summary, and the best part being that it actually delivers! Early on, readers are practically fall all over themselves in sympathizing with Kestrel who, like the bird she is named after, is caught in an impressive, yet repressive gilded cage. Kestrel is great at strategy and at winning (like Prince Jaron of Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince), but she doesn't quite do as well with hand-to-hand combat - which is quite refreshing. I'd say more about Arin, and the bigger, pivotal role he plays that doesn't just turn Kestrel's world upside down but also that of society's, but I'd really much rather that readers plunge into this without a thought as to what they're "supposed" to be expecting, as the element of surprise is really quite crucial here! I read this one with only the summary to guide me, and although the information fell just right of what is apt, it gave me no expectations as to what I'm about to discover - and THAT, my dear friends, is what makes this book very worthy of its 4.5 rating. I relished the thrill that this book took me to in the comfort of my own bed, and I hardly let it go, except to spam-message my co-blogger that "This book doesn't suck at all, and it's very, very fabulous!!!"
I loved this one so much (and I do not take that word lightly!), that I immediately plucked Marie Rutkoski's The Shadow Society from my unruly - and because of book-blogging, growing - To-Be-Read shelf and packed it with me for my travel.
The Winner's Curse is without a doubt, another of 2014's best books that I've read so far.
Can the next book please come faster now? Please?