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Book review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski

A beautifully written, gripping series starter.  As one of the most anticipated and highly praised new releases of this spring, I’ve had my eye on The Winner’s Curse for a while.  When I finally got my hands on a copy, I read the first half of the novel at snail’s pace, before falling head over heels in love with Rutkoski’s characters and devouring the last half in less than a day.

Rutkoski’s world isn’t as complex or creative as one might expect from a high fantasy novel - The Winner’s Curse is high fantasy only in the most basic sense of the genre’s definition: it is set in an imaginary world. The Valorian Empire is vaguely Greco-Roman, but it is populated by ordinary human beings possessing no magical powers.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing - although I would have liked to see a little more worldbuilding, I feel sure that Rutkoski will develop her world further in the sequels, and I think The Winner’s Curse will appeal to fantasy and historical fiction fans alike.

The high fantasy genre is strewn with innumerable fantastical worlds which borrow elements of Greco-Roman culture and history, but I’ve come across surprisingly few which focus on the imperialism of that era.  Through the greed of the Valorian Empire and their dependence upon slavery, Rutkoski delivers a thought-provoking, biting commentary on human rights, bodily autonomy, and racial tension which is (unfortunately) just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.

The Winner’s Curse starts slow and gradually builds tension, before culminating in a whirlwind of events.  Although I liked the slow burn of the first few chapters as much as the fast paced scenes that followed, I did find that the pacing dragged at times during the first half of the novel.

Rutkoski’s protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, are two of my favourite new young adult characters. Their slowly-developing romantic relationship, which had the potential to be extremely problematic (as one was the slave of the other), was instead handled carefully and thoughtfully, with both characters aware of the imbalance of power between them and the problems it could cause. Kestrel and Arin were the highlight of The Winner’s Curse, both individually and together, and I look forward to seeing more of them in The Winner’s Crime.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Rating: 4 stars | ★★★★✰
Review cross-posted to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon: US | UK

Waiting on Wednesday: The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile/Penguin

Publication date: September 16th 2014

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


endless list of favorite books → the night circus by erin morgenstern

You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.

You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.

(Source: bookslooks)

via darksilenceinsuburbia:

Jordan Buschur


For more articles and information on all things YA lit, visit our daily website, follow us here and on Twitter, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter!

- Caroline Healy talks about Blood Entwines and the writing process.
Kiersten White announced her September tour for Illusions of Fate.
- Corinne Duyvis will launch Otherbound in Amsterdam on August 30th.
- Sarah J. Maas will be touring the U.K.
- Maureen Johnson will be touring the U.K.
- Rick Yancey announced the first wave of cities for his tour.
- Penguin will host a Twitter chat with Ally Condie on August 28th.

- Ventana Sierra launched an IndieGoGo campaign for Ellen Hopkins’ Crank.

- Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time will become a Disney film.
- Maureen Johnson is releasing a Shades of London novella on Wattpad.
- Kiera Cass announced two new novels in the Selection series.
- Kelly Jones sold her spy novel Glamour to Knopf.
- Simon Pulse bought Rowan Maness’ debut online dating novel Bombshell.
- Carolrhoda Labs acquired Last Night at the Circle Cinema by Emily Franklin.

- The Children’s Book Council of Australia chose Fiona Wood’s Wildlife as its Book of the Year.
Holly Black’s Doll Bones won the 2014 Mythopoeic Award.

We Need Diverse Books filed for incorporation as an official non-profit.
Alison Ng rounds up the best of authors on Twitter in Once Upon a Tweet.
- Editor Nicole Brinkley talks to Julie Sondra Decker about asexuality in her feminist column Dragonrage.

- What’s happening today in ya history?
- We continue to celebrate #womenauthorwednesday with Ellen Oh and Lisa Mantchev.
- We celebrate our one-year birthday!
- We round up news on Maureen Johnson.
- We round up current YA tours.
- bookriot named us one of the best Tumblrs to follow for YA fans.

- What’s on our list this week? Ten larger-than-life schools!
- Keep up with upcoming YA releases.
- Keep up with recent cover reveals.
- Keep up with recent excerpt releases.

Next issue: September 7

Weekly YA Spotlight: A selection of the most anticipated new YA novels released this week (24/08 - 30/08)

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein ✤ August 28th

Deliverance (Defiance #3) by C.J. Redwine ✤ August 26th

The Rule of Thoughts (The Mortality Doctrine #2) by James Dashner ✤ August 26th

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner ✤ August 26th

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall ✤ August 26th

Sanctum (Asylum #2) by Madeleine Roux ✤ August 26th

The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5) by Pittacus Lore ✤ August 26th

Ghost House (Ghost House #1) by Alexandra Adornetto ✤ August 26th

One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (ed.) ✤ August 26th

Check out the rest of this month’s new YA releases here!


YA Literature 1/? - Penryn and the End of Days; Susan Ee

I never thought about it before, but I’m proud to be human. We’re ever so flawed. We’re frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues. But all in all, I’m proud to be a Daughter of Man.”

Children’s and YA books are about being brave and kind, about learning wisdom and love, about that journey into and through maturity that we all keep starting, and starting again, no matter how old we get. I think that’s why so many adults read YA: we’re never done coming of age.
- Betsy Cornwell, interview in Uncommon YA (via betsycornwell)

(Source: lady-adventurer)


YA Lit Meme [2/10 books]: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

“But hey, what’s life without a little adversity?

That had to have been the fakest attempt at optimism since my fourth grade teacher tried reasoning that we were better off without the dead kids in our class because it’d mean more turns on the playground swings for the rest of us.

(Source: sydneykatheriness)

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