Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski


Title: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse, #1)

Author: Marie Rutkoski 

Rating: 4 Stars

Ironically enough, I think the hype surrounding The Winner's Curse is its only flaw. 

Quite simply put, Rutkoski's latest venture into fantasy is stunning. Filled with rich world-building, vivid characters, and a simmering romance sure to make readers swoon with its intensity, Rutkoski adeptly maneuvers around typical tropes flawlessly. The Winner's Curse lacks a cliffhanger, lacks a love triangle, lacks insta-love, lacks a Mary Sue...basically, every nit-picky issue churned through the YA genre time and time again is absent from this novel. Moreover, the content within The Winner's Curse proves to be thought-provoking, pushing readers to fall in love with characters who are forced to make difficult decisions, whose moral compasses don't always point in the right directions. And, don't get me wrong, I loved all of this. 

But, after all the hype - the sheer LOVE pouring out for this book prevalent all over the blogosphere - I expected to be stunned. I expected to be brought to my knees in amazement, to shed tears of emotion and to be filled with the desire to re-read The Winner's Curse the moment I finished it. 

And, because I didn't feel that heady rush of emotion, I began to notice miniscule flaws within the story. Arin's severe lack of background. Odd shifts of time during the second-half of the novel. Disappointingly short action sequences. Political motivations hastily sped through. 

While the first-half of The Winner's Curse had me hook, line, and sinker, its second-half began to expose the holes in its veneer of perfection. Essentially, the plot direction of the latter half of this story is dense. It could, even, easily go on for another hundred pages, if only Rutkoski had bothered to include the fine detail she effortlessly poured through the first half of the novel. It isn't a major flaw; it isn't even a flaw I would have noticed had I not cracked open the spine of this book being aware of the hype surrounding it. Perhaps, if I had received an ARC, this would have been a 5 Star read. Alas, though I enjoyed The Winner's Curse, I did not love it. I want the sequel - desperately - but I also do not foresee this series becoming a trilogy, merely because the conflict seems to be rather condensed. Shadow and Bone felt like the start to an epic; The Winner's Curse, in contrast, merely seems to be the start of something very good.

17 comments:

  1. Yay!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Keertana (: I was wary in starting The Winner's curse because of all the hype. Eventually, I mustered up and took the book. I was amazed and for once it's worth all the hype. I agree with what you mentioned about The Winner's curse as it's the start of something good when compared to Shadow and Bone. Lovely review, dear(:

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  2. I am so curious about this one!

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  3. I actually feel bad for a book when it gets as much hype as The Winner's Curse did. It's almost like the book's being set up for failure. Luckily, this book is good enough to hold up under the stress. A few minor cracks (yes, Arin's lack of backstory bugged me) but still so good.

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  4. I actually feel bad for a book when it gets as much hype as The Winner's Curse did. It's almost like the book's being set up for failure. Luckily, this book is good enough to hold up under the stress. A few minor cracks (yes, Arin's lack of backstory bugged me) but still so good.

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  5. Hype is always tricky. It's both good in that it inspires people to pick up a book, but bad in that it sets expectations that are simply unattainable. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one overall despite some of the flaws you found in the second half, like you, I can't wait for book two!

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  6. I am listening to this one now the world-building is lovely.

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  7. Ahhh the marketing wheels was its demise. It's too bad you didn't love it, but I see your points. I'm not a reader of the genre, so when I read something like this, I'm quite amazed.

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  8. I think the best thing about this book might be everything it lacks. Which is odd, except in this case, it makes perfect sense.
    My schedule won't allow me to read this for another month at least, but I bought a copy anyway and I'm very much looking forward to it.

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  9. I'm glad you still ended up enjoying it. I think my biggest problem was all the political stuff being pushed through quickly. I forgave it because there is more than one book in the series. I am hoping I'm not wrong and it will resolve itself of at least that shortcoming. Great review!

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  10. But you still liked it. And that says a lot. Hype and all. I wish you had gotten the ARC so you could have enjoyed it more. I purchased it to read despite the hype. I am expecting to enjoy it very much.

    Heather

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  11. I've heard great things for the winners curse . At first I was exited but then I began cautious of the hype . I still think I'll give it a try a couple more months down the road when the hype has died down a bit . Lovely review, keertana

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  12. Great review. <3 I'm so sorry that you didn't fully love this one. Sniffs. I did. So much. But I also understand why you didn't, hih. Thank you for sharing and being honest. <3

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  13. I'm so happy I read this in the fall before most of this hype began. I can completely appreciate your perspective, but the interference of hype always makes me sad. Still I hold firm to my love of this story and these characters. I'm hoping that epic comes for you in the next story, however.

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  14. I've only read that part about hype and I stopped there - that's why I'm avoiding reviews for this book. I'll probably read it, but I don't want to make same mistake like with TFIOS.
    I hope I'll enjoy it as much as you did.

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  15. Oh that evil hype machine thwarts another reader!!:) you know I guess there has to be some book that publishers target and pour their energies into talking up allowing the readers to follow suit, and for me The Winner's Curse deserved it-- but I definitely see your point about how that can sometimes negatively affect readers too.

    I loved the mysterious nature of Arin in the first part of this book-- but I feel we did get to know him and his story a lot more in the second. And unlike you, I really loved the way things developed during that second half-- the pacing does up, the danger accelerated, everything got way more intense after a slower start. But yes, I agree that that pacing probably led to a loss if detail in the second half. Honestly I was just so wrapped up in what was happening that it didn't bother me so much:)

    I'm SO excited to see where Rutkoski takes readers in the next installment, hopefully that will live up to your expectationsmore, Keertana:) Great review!

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  16. It is hard for books to live up to the hype. I had some interesting conversations on Twitter about just this topic recently, because I've seen some readers get EXTREMELY angry about hype, and of course, it's not the book's fault at all.

    I've always found it pretty easy to separate hype from book, though--that cynical part of me that doesn't believe anything until I've read it myself serves me well in this case, because I end up being pleasantly surprised if I do enjoy something.

    In any case, it's hard to read around the noise of the blogosphere sometimes for sure. I'm glad you enjoyed the book overall anyway.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  17. I think I could have been fine without the hype, but it's kind of hard to ignore the holes in the book like you said. Oh there is a novella for Arin's history, Ali showed it to me but I forgot where it was.

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