Review of The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Some kisses come at a price.(Summary from GoodReads)
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?
I’ve been obsessed with The Winner’s Trilogy since the first book came out, and The Winner’s Kiss was probably my most anticipated book of 2016, especially given how The Winner’s Crime ended. Rutkoski has written what is probably one of the best series finales on the young adult market right now. The Winner’s Kiss is nothing short of absolutely stunning.
This is a book that its about war, and about people who love each other, but at times feel pitted against each other because of the war. The story is filled with action, suspense, and heartbreak from the very beginning. Rutkoski tackles issue of work camps, memory loss, and slavery over the course of the series. While I know some people didn’t care for these elements, I thought they were extremely well-handled. Rutkoski goes in just deep enough to get the reader thinking about things and whether or not they are right or wrong, but the storyline never becomes didactic.
Rutkoski’s prose is at its very best here. The beauty of it constantly adds tension or heightens the emotion. Additionally, Rutkoski also did a fantastic job of taking elements from the first two books and tying them into this story. I loved watching how relationships grew and changed throughout this book, especially between Kestrel and her father. Even though this story is gut-wrenching and will make you feel all of the things, Roshar helps provide some comic relief. I loved his character so much.
Even though I just read this series, it’s one that I feel ready to pick up again. The world and character’s are so nuanced that I feel like I could revisit again and again and always discover something new. The Winner’s Kiss has definitely sealed this series as one of my favorite YA series of all time.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.