Review: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

While this review does not contain spoilers for this book, it does contain spoilers for the earlier books of this series. If you have not read The Winner’s Curse or The Winner’s Crime yet, I suggest you do that and then come back and read this.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Release Date: March 24, 2016
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978140885874
Pages: 484
Read in: May 2017
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Goodreads Summary:

10 parts 12 hours 1 minute

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

The Winner’s Kiss was a satisfying conclusion to the Winner’s Curse trilogy. It was full of drama, action, political intrigue and beautiful character development that took you through a rollercoaster of emotions.  I was actually very kindly sent a copy by the publisher, but I also bought my own copy, so I owned two until I gave one away to my friend. To Bloomsbury – thank you so much, and I’m very sorry that it took this l0ng to read and get a review out.

For context, I read the first two books two years ago when Winner’s Crime was released, and tried to read Winner’s Kiss when it came out. At that point in time, I had really no interest in reading the last book, and so it’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read for over a year. I did re-read the first two books before reading this one, but I really wasn’t anticipating or extremely hyped for this book.

I thought the writing was fantastic. I love the way Marie sets up the plot and the subtle foreshadowing throughout. There are casual mentions of things you wouldn’t think were important but later on find out that it was actually hinting at a major event that would happen towards the end. The prose just flowed really nicely – there were so many memorable lines and the way that they are all set up is just so good. There were elements of the plot that reminded me of other YA books I’ve read – more specifically, the final book in certain trilogies, but I didn’t really have many issues with the plot. Perhaps how the war ended was a little anti-climatic how it came down to two things, but I thought the build up and foreshadowing was really good, so the climax being less epic didn’t really detract from my view that the plot was really well constructed.

“I want better choices.”

“Then we must make a world that has them.”

The character development was really good. I like how both Kestrel and Arin both matured a lot, and that they were beginning to come to terms with wh0 they are and embraced that. Both of them still jump to false conclusions rather quickly, but throughout the book, they start being more patient with each other and others as well. I liked the way the relationship between Kestrel and Arin settled, but at the same time, I feel like after the intensity and frustration that was The Winner’s Crime, the whole dynamic was anticlimatic. I’m not sure if the emotional arcs were completely necessary – however, in saying that, I did still enjoy the relationship between the two.

Can we just talk about Roshar for a minute? I love his character – his sarcastic, quirky humour was so on point, but underneath all the sarcasm is his caring heart for the people he’s close with. The idea of him naming a tiger after Arin is just hilarious to me, and is something I can totally relate to. I love that underneath all his humour, he cares deeply for his friends, and will do anything to look out for them, even if it turns out it’s not the best idea. I think it’s safe to say that he is one of my favourite characters in this trilogy, and I’m just sad that we didn’t get to see him in earlier books.

Overall, I would highly recommend that if you’re like me and haven’t read The Winner’s Kiss yet, you really should do it, because it’s a fantastic book that is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

Rating: ★★★★.5




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