Book Review | The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse 
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan)
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks Macmillan!)

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startle to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin's eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him - with unexpected consequences. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Review: There are so many things to love about this book. I want to start by showing some cover love. The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. I love the way she grabs onto the letter R (there also happens to be an R in Arin's name ;)) as well as the dagger that she has in her hand (which, no spoiler, becomes significant in the novel). I don't know where to begin talking about how amazing this book is, please excuse my blubbering throughout this review - perhaps we can blubber together :)

Rutkoski does an amazing job of world building in this book. I loved the elements of a fictional historical and fantasy setting. There is so much to learn about this world, it felt like a real place to me. I loved reading about the world and its history just as much as I loved reading about the characters and their history. The unique story behind how the world is run is interesting as well as how this world is currently running. Truly outstanding and unique aspects to this new series lie in the choice to become part of the military or get married when a teen comes of age, the hierarchy of the novel and the relationships between the characters. 

I really appreciated the attention that Rutkoski paid to women in the military. Kestrel's father knows that she is good with military strategy and tries to get her to join him in the military. I really enjoyed seeing women as equals (for the most part) in this novel. 

Kestrel was a strong female character and a bad ass MF. She was smart, clever, witty and has a strong head and heart. I was rooting for her even when she had me frustrated. The only time I grew frustrated with her (and Arin at times) was when they weren't doing what I wanted them to - sorry for the vagueness, I don't want to unintentionally spoil anything. However, I know that when I was frustrated with them, it wasn't because they were being stupid, they were simply being themselves, I wouldn't have expected them to do anything else but what they had done in the moment. That is something that I loved about Kestrel and Arin; while they are both combating different things going on around them, they stay true to the things that matter most to them and that is a likable and honorable quality. 

The relationships in this book were wonderfully developed. Kestrel's relationship with her dad is one of my favorite parent/teen relationships that I've read before. The amount of respect that they have for each other is fantastic and watching the way they interact and challenge each other while still supporting each other's choices was a great aspect of their relationship. The love story in this book is one that I found myself wanting more of by the end of this novel. I felt that the love was just starting to bud throughout this novel and was slow-progressing. That's not a bad thing, that's how a normal love relationship is, especially how it should be between two people in Kestrel and Arin's positions. I think that Kestrel and Arin are my favorite star-crossed lovers. I can't wait to find out what happens between them in the next book. 

This book is filled with action. It was constantly surprising me in the direction it took and the different ways things played out. There is so much that happens, but I was never confused. Nor was I ever bored. This book is filled with so many fantastical elements, like sword-fighting, love, military strategies, cleverness, and war. 

I hope that you all will pick this book up soon, read it an enjoy it. I highly recommend this one and I don't think you'll regret reading it, it was just so dang gooooooood. 

Have you read this one and if so, what did you think of it? What do you think about the respect this book pays to women in the military? Are there any books lately that you've read that have been action-packed? What are your favorite star-crossed love stories?