Author: Marie Rutkoski.
Published: March 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Sort: The winner’s curse #1.
Source: Won in a giveaway.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Kestrel has two choices: she get married or she joins the army, which is something her father tries to force on her. He is the general and he would love to see his daughter doing the same. She knows she has no talent for fighting, but she is intelligent and sharp, which makes her perfect for tactical decisions. Kestrel forgets all about this when she buys a slave on the market during an auction. There is something about Arin that speaks to her and she follows her instincts.
I loved Kestrel. The author could easily make her too perfect, but with a few flaws here and there she turned out to be a refreshing, realistic character. It’s obvious that she thinks before she acts, so I like that she let go of that when she offers a lot of money for Arin. This gives their relationship an unique twist, especially when you find out who Arin exactly is. Arin was a little mysterious and I like the interesting matter he brings into the story. I don't have a feeling I truly know him at this point of the story line, but I guess that has been done on purpose.
The world-building was solid, but there aren't many details. It might get explored more in the sequel, but the story mostly revolves around Kestrel and Arin – and that was fine. I never felt the need to get more information to understand the story. There is no insta-love between them and I like how their feelings develop. I wasn’t completely invested in their romance, but I could see why they were attracted to each other. The ending is just brutal and it's the example of a good cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the sequel!