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Winner’s Curse, Reader’s Blessing [Café Libro]

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Emily Dexter

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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski follows the story of Kestrel, the daughter of a wealthy general in an authoritative kingdom who is determined not to follow in her father’s footsteps. While her father has met with much success as a ruthless military figure and even led the campaign to conquer the peninsula they now live on, Kestrel is more drawn to music, even though society views that skill as one usually reserved for slaves. When Kestrel purchases a determined young man from a slave auction, she begins to question her position in this world her father helped to create.

From that point, Rutkoski unfolds a complex plot that constantly kept me guessing as I read. Instead of falling into the all-too-common traps of YA literature, the plot is beautifully well thought-out and meaningful, right up to its unexpected conclusion.

When my co-blogger Carson handed me The Winner’s Curse, what struck me first was the interesting cover design, and then, as I began to read, the simple elegance of Rutkoski’s prose. Then I fell in love with Kestrel. As a protagonist, Kestrel embodies the inner conflict many teenagers feel when they consider what they want to do with their futures compared to what their parents and society want. She is strong and intelligent, but she also shows enough weakness and imperfection to make her relatable—which, when it comes to characters, makes her stronger.

If you want a captivating read set in a unique fantasy world, pick up The Winner’s Curse. If you’re like me, then by the end, it’ll leave you asking questions about what you would give up for your family, for your people, for love, and for pride. Then, once you’re sufficiently emotionally ruined, you can play an online version of Kestrel’s favorite game, Bite and Sting, or check out the next books in the series while you’re waiting for Carson to respond to my first challenge.

The next challenge:

Carson, this week I challenge you to read There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones. In contrast to your first choice, this one’s a realistic novel about Finley, a teenage girl who travels to Ireland to study abroad while preparing for her audition for a music conservatory back in the States. While overseas, Finley meets some unexpected characters, including a Hollywood actor named Beckett, and begins to understand more about herself and about life.

This book is full of wit and complexity. Hopefully, you’ll fall as in love with Finley and the Irish countryside as I did.

On this blog, Emily Dexter and Carson TerBush will put their book recommendations to the test. Each week, one will challenge each other to read a book she has read before and enjoyed. The following week, they will judge the recommended book and then propose the next challenge. They hope to inspire new readers to read some new books. To read more, check out the Café Libro blog at https://hilite.org/category/cafe-libro/.

 

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