The Winner’s Trilogy is the best example I can think of when it comes to books I wouldn’t normally pick up but I was completely convinced by the lovely people in this community that I needed to. I’m addicted to contemporary fiction but even I couldn’t deny my intrigue when I saw all the 5-star reviews pop up on on Goodreads for The Winner’s Curse. Even though I was expecting some kind of dragon or weird creature in this series (Harry Potter has done this to me), I didn’t move from my couch until I got through it. So very good, and even better — the second book in the series was just as great.
I find it so hard to talk about series on a blog. I don’t want to alienate those who haven’t read it yet, but I also don’t want to skip chatting about it if it’s worthwhile. I’m going to do my best to toe that line with five reasons you should pick it up — especially those of you who favor more realistic fiction.
1. Even if its set in this lush, divided fantasy world, these books dive into relatable issues. Ever torn between pleasing a parent and hurting your heart? Did you ever fall for the very wrong person? Have you ever lost connection with your best friend? I loved that Rutkoski explores all of these conflicts in The Winner’s Curse. It doesn’t matter when or where you live — we all go through these things.
2. Rutkoski is unafraid to write a dark, bloody book. Sometimes I wonder why it takes me longer to get through fantasy books compared to contemporary. I’m sure one part of the reason is that the terrain is different but there’s always this — it’s not so easy to get through a book that is so doggone sad and bleak. With families separated, empires are at war, and secrets by the handfuls, it’s not easy to get through so much manipulation, betrayal, and death. (It’s worth it though.) This author wants you to experience the full picture from the best moments to the difficult ones. (Might be why this series might be good for those who are apprehensive about picking up YA.)
3. Unexpected allies. There are two characters I really enjoyed in The Winner’s Crime that I wasn’t expecting to. I love being surprised in my reading, and I absolutely enjoy being forced to see another side of a person when I think I have their number already.
4. The beauty of this world. Despite the blood, inequality, and lies, I wish I could jump into the pages of these books and see these grand balls, Kestrel’s beautiful dresses, and oh gosh even her makeup sounds amazing. A lot of bad might be going on, but these moments of grandeur only add to the epic feel of this series.
5. A kick ass heroine. Many times during my reading, I found myself wishing I was as smart and sharp as Kestrel. Holy crap. She’s fiercely independent; she’s brilliant at strategy and god, she must have the best poker face in the business. As I continue to wax poetic about her, let’s talk about her selflessness. She does so much for the better of everyone else even if it sacrifices her own relationships and happiness. I would follow her anywhere.
Bonus: The tension between Kestrel and Arin is off the charts. I literally stopped breathing.
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski ( web | tweet ) | Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux | Pages: 417
Target audience: Young adult | Keywords: marriage, loyalty, war, betrayal
Format read: ARC from Publisher. (Thanks!)
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