(Review-YA) The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Rutkoski, Marie. The Winner’s Curse: A Novel. , 2014. Print.ISBN-13: 9780374384678. Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $5.12. Kindle $7.09

Info 684 Genre: Genre Pick #6 – Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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Kestral has a gift for military strategic brilliance that has her father trying to recruit her to his army, but Kestral is more interested in playing music. She enjoys her comfortable life as daughter to the second most powerful man in a tyrannical empire. Then one day she sees a slave boy being sold, and impulsively buys him. Kestral is drawn to Arin, and they form an odd kind of friendship, while the empire teeters on the brink of rebellion. Then Kestral finds out Arin has his own deep secrets, her world falls apart, and she finds her role reversed. Kestral will need to put all her strategic brilliance to the test to ensure her own survival.


Themes include: slavery, rebellion, privilege, war, friendship, love, family ties, and identity.

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored The Winner’s Curse. I loved that the main character’s military brilliance came from intelligence and strategy, rather than physical fighting prowess. Many of our heroines these days are kick-butt fighters (and I love that), but it was refreshing to see one whose best skills are her intellect. She’s also very loyal, which is one of the things that drives the plot so well. It’s easy to empathize with her as she struggles to cope with torn loyalties and has to choose between doing what is expected of her, and what she thinks is right. This is one of the stories where we, like Kestral, see that there is no black and white, no outright good guys and bad guys. The story has a couple of great, unexpected turns, and I was frequently surprised by decisions Kestral makes. I could not wait to see what happened next so I read the sequel immediately and cannot wait for book 3!

Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the The Winner’s Trilogy is The Winner’s Crime

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About the Author: Marie Rutkoski is the author of several children’s and young adult books, including The Winner’s Trilogy

What are other teens saying about their reading & social media habits?

“I read YA fantasy, as well as contemporary romance, with a little bit or paranormal or sci-fi thrown in every once and a while. As a blogger, my only “social media” is my actual blog (though I’m considering expanding that soon), and even in “real life” I only have a Facebook–social media isn’t really my thing….I get most of my recommendations from other bloggers, or from just standing in a book store and seeing which books grab me. I never use the library. (I like owning my books! They’re my babies!)” – Jocelyn, 10th grade

Citation & Credits
Book cover images: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Book Talk: Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.
Fierce Reads. “The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.” Online Video clip. YouTube.com. 18 Dec 2013. Web. 26 July 2015.


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