Friday, June 3, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss

 Title: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fiction | Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: March 29, 20 16
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased (Author Event)

Some kisses come at a price.
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 (goodreads)?

It's so hard to say goodbye, but The Winner's Kiss delivered. 
Plot: The Winner's Curse and The Winner's Crime built for this very moment. We are at the height of war and everything is at stake for our star-crossed lovers. My one issue with The Winner's Curse was that it moved too slow, and my main issue with The Winner's Crime was that Arin and Kestrel kept flitting around each other. Luckily, The Winner's Kiss was the perfect balance. Romance and war don't seem like two likely bedfellows, but Rutkoski blended them seamlessly in the final installment. 

Characters: Shockingly, The Winner's Kiss was very Arin-centric. I thought that the two previous novels highlighted both Arin and Kestrel evenly, but Arin gets to shine and explore his imperfections in The Winner's Kiss. I loved that Rutkoski allowed us to access to his inner turmoil of leading a revolution and trying to save his love. However, I wasn't the biggest fan of how what happened to Kestrel's character in this installment. I found it to be unoriginal and a bit disappointed that Rutkoski would use that mechanism in such an original series. 

BUT. The romance was  to die for! There were at times that my heart fluttered with Kestrel and Arin's developments and their love for each other; I couldn't wipe that goofy smile off of my face. The Winner's Kiss had my favorite Arin and Kestrel moments in the entire trilogy.

Worldbuilding: From the dangerous tundras to Herrani territory, Rutkoski invented a world that I wouldn't mind revisiting. The eastern people played a large role in the war against Valoria, but I felt that the world and the people were mostly explored in The Winner's Crime. There were some revelations about the culture and the people that I thought should have been fleshed out more in The Winner's Kiss, but that's just me nitpicking. If Rutkoski were to write a companion novel in this world, I would devour it happily.

Short N Sweet: The Winner's Kiss isn't perfect as a novel, but it's the perfect ending for Arin and Kestrel. 


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