Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Winner's Trilogy

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

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 startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. 

It's always a plus when you love a book not just because the story is good, but because the book itself is beautiful. Everything about this book was good; the story, the cover, the pages in between. I'm categorizing this one as fantasy. It's set in a fantasy world even though there is no magic in it, and it reads like a traditional fantasy in many ways. I'm not really sure what other category I could put it in.

The world in The Winner's Curse is so full of gray. It is about the conflict between two nations of people. One has been conquered by the other and is enslaved. There is no easy answer for either side. I felt for both sides of the conflict. It illustrates how, even if one side's intentions might be in the right, there are good and bad people on both sides of a war. I wanted the Herrani to be able to be free, but I felt some of the things their leader did were wrong and made him just as bad as the Valorian leaders who had enslaved his people. All of this made the story a very compelling read.

I enjoyed the way Kestrel was written. It was refreshing that she wasn't good at combat. That in no way made her a weak character. She had a sharp mind and was a good strategist, who also happened to really love music. So we got something a little different here. I liked the way the relationship between Kestrel and Arin unfolded. No insta-love here. Thank goodness! There is what some people would call a love triangle, but I didn't really consider it one since its clear from the beginning that Kestrel doesn't feel that way about the other guy.

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in this trilogy.

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

I was very happy to find that The Winner's Crime does not suffer from that middle book slump that a lot of second books in trilogies suffer from. The best way to describe The Winner's Crime would be frustratingly good. Frustrating because I wanted to slap some sense into both Kestrel and Arin at times, but oh so good despite that.

This book employed the trope of keeping a secret from the person you love. Normally that frustrates me to no end and it effects my enjoyment of a book, but in this case it somehow didn't. I got why Kestrel kept the secret, at least at first, but there was a point where I just wanted to shake her. And there was a point where I just wanted to shake Arin because I thought he could have seen the truth behind things a lot sooner if he had really wanted to.

The reason the book was so good was due to the very real emotions of the characters. There were so many conflicted feelings and even loyalties, just like the first book The Winner's Curse. It had a way of getting under my skin and wrenching my heart. This is not one of those YA trilogies with easy answers.

The ending has left me feeling like a rock has settled in the pit of my stomach and it's going to be there until next year when The Winner's Kiss comes out. So if you aren't a fan of waiting between books I wouldn't recommend reading this series until all three books have been released.

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

The Winner's Kiss starts off pretty much where The Winner's Crime left off. Kestrel is on the way to a work camp, devastated by her father's actions in the previous book. Meanwhile, Arin wants nothing more than to forget about Kestrel and move on. Arin with the help of the Eastern prince, Roshar is busy battling the Valorian army. I have to say that I never really came to like Roshar a whole lot, but that was probably due to the fact that we are kept guessing about his intentions throughout most of the book.

For the most part I enjoyed this book, but it seemed slower than the two previous ones. The one thing I wasn't real crazy about was the memory loss. It just felt like a convenient way to keep Arin and Kestrel apart longer. It was still a 4 star read for me though. The romance aspect of this book was just right for me, very sweet and romantic. My favorite thing about this book was the theme of forgiveness and love. Kestrel's relationship with her father was interesting and I wish there had been more dialog between them. I was very happy when Kestrel realized that she still loved her father despite everything he had done. I also liked that I was never sure if both Arin and Kestrel would survive. There was one twist that I didn't see coming at all and when I finally got what was happening, it made the book so much better.

This whole trilogy has been one that has kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more, and this was a really good ending for the trilogy. I will be looking for more books by this author.

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