I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
Ah, The Winner’s Curse probably one of the most over hyped books in 2014 and I’ll admit it was good.
In the world of cliche high fantasy, it stood out. The world building was fantastic and the ship was palatable and longing worthy.
The world building was still fantastic in the sequel, but did not like the ship as much. It wasn’t horrible, per say But it played on the misunderstanding cliche a bit for me to like. Plus, Arin needs to get off his high horse.
I think a lot of issues I have with the romance is that both leads are such strong characters. And this is a good thing to a degree. Strong characters mean stronger story lines. The thing is, strong characters sometimes don’t work that well together especially when they’re both very stubborn strong characters. I feel like one of the characters has to give up part of themselves so that they can be together and I feel that’s what is ultimately going to happen to the ship here.
But it doesn’t mean I outright hate Arin and Kestrel, I just don’t ship them the way others do.
The world building in this installment, was enough for me not to really give a flip about how I no longer get the ship. More dimensions were given to the characters and the world they live in. I like how side characters in this installment embellished the world building.
There was also many parts of the world shown in this installment, unlike the first installment.
One of my favorite aspects of this installment was how Kestrel met her match with the emperor. The character was complex on so many levels. I’m not sure you’d call him so much of a villain or really just a politician. Sure, his actions weren’t the kindest, but I don’t think he’s exactly a typical Big Bad.
Then there was the relationship that Kestrel had with her father and her future husband (the emperor’s son). Both of them were complex and well done too.
Parent fluff in YA books is always good when you can get it (it rarely happens), so to see a father daughter relationship here was refreshing. The same goes for the relationship between Kestrel and the emperor’s son. This is NOT a love triangle, guys. It’s an alliance turned friendship, which I find refreshing.
While developing side relationships, the political aspects of the novel (aka the plot) also developed as well. You could see that the politics of the novel were effected by the character’s relationships and vice versa.
The thing about this series is that it somehow stands out amongst the various high fantasies out there in YA. It’s true it shares several similar attributes, but there’s something about it the cream of the crop. I think it’s in part because the setting in this story isn’t a quasi dystopia. The Ancient Rome inspired world that Kestrel lives in is at its height of power. There’s no lost queen and magic too, which helps immensely as well.
If you are into high fantasy in YA, you should give this trilogy a try. It’s not exactly the most unique trilogy out there, but there are enough parts in there to grab your attention.