I picked up Winner’s Curse very doubtfully. Many of the books I have were gifts. In fact, most of them are gifts from my brother or mother. They were mostly chosen by me through lots of internet searches.
Race and Culture
Since many YA books are under criticism for not being diverse, I was worried about this book. While researching, I found out that there’s tension between two groups of people in these books. Panic.
You see, I am a brown person and I rarely encounter fellow brown people in books (or in general). And, yet, Arin was just complex. He was just some “cute boy.”
No, this is a guy who had a life before being sold into slavery. He has reasons to be mad and to hate his life.
I liked that the Herrani people had their own traditions, like how they bury the dead, while the Valorian people burned them. How they had their own ways of introducing honor and death to their young family members.
This book tried to grapple with race, culture, and politics in such a profound yet simple way.
Fighting and Strategy
From what I recall, many book folk were upset that the books have changed covers. I am one of the unfortunate souls who got the books (first two) in paperback. In other words, I got the crappy covers. However, I understand the idea behind the cover change.
What is really cool is that Kestrel is not helpless. She uses strategy and words to get things to work her way. While she was presented as someone very good at “reading people,” she was ultimately proven wrong because she was rather wrong about Arin.
She was wrong about all Herrani people, by extension.
It’s a stressful idea to realize that there’s two more books and Arin and Kestrel will have to face off again. Multiple times. Not in a cute way. At all.
You know why? Because they’re both sharp and clever. While they’re conflicted, they still think quick on their feet.
These books are about Kestrel and Arin fighting for their people, while battling their own emotions that are frowned upon. No spoilers, but you know, they both like someone they shouldn’t. Forbidden love is not sensationalized so much here; it’s more about finding a human connection.
I am frightened for these characters, because wow they’re both vicious.
It is nice to see this because I like seeing characters who have values and ethics. You don’t just throw away what you hold most dear because you met someone cute.
Onto the next one, for sure!
OVERALL RATING ***** (FIVE STARS!)