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About the Author: Marie Rutkoski

Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

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Goodreads rating: 4.04

Paperback, Published in Jul 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN10: 1408858207 | ISBN13: 9781408858202

Page count: 359

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.

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.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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SocialBookCo User Reviews

Rebekah Cohen on 24 Sep 2016
“Kestrel is cool, calculated and strategic; yet she never has felt comfortable with the strict regime of enslaving the Herrani that her fellow Valorians insist on. But Arin turns Kestrel's life upside down - and not just in a romantic sense. Will Kestrel follow her head or her heart? Are the expectations of society truly impossible for her to escape?

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book. The story is fast paced and never boring, which made it a lovely, light, quick read. I found the whole concept so interesting, which meant I had such high expectations for The Winner's Curse. And did it meet them? Well, I'm not too sure...

You see, I can't decide whether or not I really care about the characters. I don't dislike them, I just don't know if I'm all that invested in their lives? Kestrel and Arin are very different but at the same time incredibly similar. Seeing them try to puzzle out each other's motives at the beginning was probably my favourite part of the book. I definitely feel that the slavery/betrayal themes running through this book had the potential to be woven into such an intricate, multi-layered novel. Unfortunately though, I feel like it all fell just a little bit flat. Which is so disappointing! I think part of the problem is the world building. You kind of get a sense of the different societies within this world, but not much. On the one hand, I like how this story just provides you with a snapshot, on the other I feel like the plot would have come together much better if we'd been given more background information.

It's so difficult to explain my feelings on this book! Basically, I enjoyed reading it, but felt like I kept waiting for something to happen. I suppose what you could call the main plot twist was rather blatantly given away very early on... if it had been covered up and engineered more secretly, I'm pretty sure it would have been a great surprise.

The writing was good; nothing special. It was very direct and realistic, an approach that sometimes I really enjoy. There was limited description of the characters' appearance. And I know that many people actually prefer it that way, as it gives them more scope to imagine the characters for themselves. But personally, I like to be given a bit more detail about their appearance, just because I kinda want to see them as the author imagined them, if that makes sense??

I love fantasy so much, I'm just not convinced this book is as good as some of the others I've read in this genre. Perhaps if I'd read it a couple of years ago, I'd have been obsessed. Actually, now that I think about it, it would be a great book to introduce someone to fantasy and show them that it doesn't have to be ultra intimidating to read!

Will I read the rest of the trilogy? Probably. Am I in any rush to do so? Not really... Guys I feel this review has been quite negative and I hate writing negative reviews! Maybe this book just wasn't for me?? Or perhaps school has drained all my energy so much so that I can no longer properly appreciate a good book?? What really made me consider the book in a different light and feel much more enthusiasm towards it, was when I read the Author's Note at the back. Here, Marie Rutkoski explained her fascination with the concept of 'the winner's curse'.

She wrote: "I was fascinated by this version of a Pyrrhic victory - to win and lose at the same time. I was tempted by the beauty of the term 'winner's curse', which was first presented in 1971 paper called 'Competitive Bidding in High-Risk Situations', by E. C. Capen, R. V. Clapp, and W. M. Campbell. I tried to think of a novel in which someone would win an auction that exacts a steep emotional price. It occurred to me: What if the item at auction were not a thing but a person? What might winning cost then?"

This little explanation of Rutkoski's inspiration made me reflect much more positively on my reading experience. It made me consider aspects of the plot in a completely different way. I'm so grateful for this Author's Note - it was really made the whole book worth it, in my opinion!

I wish I could convey the full extent of my love for that single explanatory paragraph <3”

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