Publishing Info: March 29, 2016 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 1, 2016
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2)
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 simply outstanding. I’ve been anticipating the finale to this series ever since I read THE WINNER’S CRIME (five months before it came out… That only added to my wait!) and I can say that I was completely satisfied and overjoyed with how this series concluded. Everything came together brilliantly and Marie Rutkoski really gives readers a book with a bang to finish off this trilogy!
This series is possibly best-known for the level of angst and tension in the most gut-wrenching way. THE WINNER’S CRIME was full of “almost”s and “could have been”s and it was excruciating in the best possible way. My heart has ached for these characters and I’ve been dying for them to finally get together and just be happy! While I won’t give away details of what happens in THE WINNER’S KISS, I will say that I loved the consistency of the trilogy, maintaining that ache and pull until the very end. There are several things that Arin and Kestrel still need to overcome if they want to be together and THE WINNER’S KISS throws even more obstacles in their way (if you can believe it)! Every situation and scene is really so well done and Marie Rutkoski does a great job of maintaining conflict but still giving her readers that inkling of hope that things will work out for these two in the end.
I feel like Marie’s writing has grown exponentially throughout the series! I’ve found each book beautifully worded but it was something that I specifically noticed in THE WINNER’S KISS. Every scene appeals to multiple senses and really draws the reader right into this world. I could picture each setting, imagine the smells, and draw upon character’s feelings. The structure of everything came together just perfectly and I was so impressed with how lovely this book was to read!
I also loved the alternating POVs from Kestrel to Arin not only from chapter to chapter but within each chapter as well. It was great to be able to see the appropriate action when it was needed and not wait for the next chapter to catch up on the next character’s POV. This was especially noticeable during the battle scenes (YES, war! You knew it was coming) and it really kept the action moving forward!
The romance is, of course, amazing. Arin and Kestrel are a fantastic couple with an incredible bond and a whole lot of things to overcome. It was great to see their dedication to each other and each character has such quiet strength, especially when things get rough. There are moments of rage, passion, fear, and comfort and every single scene between the two of them was just amazing. I always love a good “forbidden love” story and this was perfectly crafted in every way. Both characters are incredibly strong and smart but each have their own strengths. I love the two of them and THE WINNER’S KISS was such a satisfying conclusion for Arin and Kestrel.
I also have to note how much I love the secondary characters in this series! Roshar became an absolute favorite and I just adored his friendship with Arin as well as his role throughout the rest of this series. He becomes a really crucial part of this book and really enhanced every scene that he was in. The other secondary characters really came to life as well and were a great supporting cast to Arin and Kestrel. It’s always wonderful to see such well-developed minor characters and how they enhance a story.
I’ve loved watching the characters grow over the series and Marie Rutkoski’s writing has only gotten more beautiful along the way as well. It’s so rewarding to really see a series blossom and grow and The Winner’s Trilogy only got better with each book. THE WINNER’S KISS was my favorite of the series and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by this conclusion. It was positively stunning, epic, and satisfying.
Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy without magic. This was a really interesting concept, crafting a fantasy series that didn’t use magic, when it seems to be such a given for fantasy lately. I loved this new world, characters, war, setting — really everything about it — and the plot ended up being much more romance and strategy based rather than building a world around a magical concept. It’s done so well that it’s not even something you miss!
Left Me Wanting More: X factor. So this is more of a series note than specific to this book but I wish I had found that extra oomph that really flung me head over heels into this series. I wasn’t IN love with the first book and although I did love so much about the second and the third, it never quite came together as a series that I was fangirling over. While I was reading, emotions were high and I was having an amazing time reading these books and yet I don’t find myself gravitating towards them after finishing. I’m not quite sure why that is!
These books are just wonderful and fan-favorites for so many. Really everything is so well-done and Marie Rutkoski knocked this trilogy out of the park!
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(Click the cover to see my review!)