Review: “The Winners Kiss” – Marie Rutkoski

April 11, 2016 Book Review 1

Review: “The Winners Kiss” – Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
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Published on: March 29th 2016
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 496
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: eARC

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This book is part of the The Winner’s Trilogy. You can find reviews for the rest of the books below:
The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)
The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)


The Story(summary from Goodreads)

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?


My Thoughts

I feel like I have been waiting for this book to be released FOREVER and it was definitely one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.

After the way Rutkoski ended The Winner’s Curse we were left absolutely desperate for the final book in this trilogy. I have always loved the way that she has weaved this story with all it’s different elements together and she really showed her talent in this final book which was full of the tension and the ‘almost’ moments which make this trilogy incredible.

“You don’t need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”

For a character that has always been so confident and sure of herself we see a very different Kestrel in this book. She ended the previous book in a very unfortunate position and for the first time there is no one there to save her when she cannot save herself. I love Kestrel in this book, maybe even more than I have in previous books as although she is the same, there is also something different about her, a sort of vulnerability which made her so interesting to read.

“You will be lonely, but you’ll become strong.”

I have to be honesty, I spent the beginning of this book yelling at Arin through the pages to notice that something had gone wrong with Kestrel in the Empire. But he did have a lot going on trying to save his people an all so I’ll let him off. But one thing I wanted to mention that I absolutely loved about Arin in this book was his friendship with Roshar. He very quickly became a cruicial character in this trilogy and he added so much to every scene that he was in, including a great amount of comedy.

“Did you have to bring the tiger?”
“I kept him hungry during the journey here, just for you,” Roshar said. “Go give him a nice snuggle, won’t you? He’s come all this way to see you. The least you could do is give him one of your arms to eat. Too much? What about a hand? At least some fingers. Arin, where’s your hospitality?”

Throughout this entire series we have been super frustrated by the ache that is Kestrel and Arin’s relationship. I don’t know about you but I have yelled at these characters constantly to actually communicate truthfully with each other about their feelings rather then all the secrets and lies that came with trying to protect the other one.

I’m not going to give any spoilers but I have to say that I love the way that their relationship was taken in this final installment and that I still ached massively for the two of them through the entire book. It wasn’t an easy book for them and Rutkoski was still throwing obstacles in their way whilst also giving us glimmers of hope that things would work out for our favourite pair.

“Later, Kestrel wished she had spoken then, that no time had been lost. She wished that she’d had the courage that very moment to tell Arin what she’d finally known to be true: that she loved him with the whole of her heart.”

Kestrel and Arin really do make a fantastic pair and their dedication to each other along with their abililty to sacrifice so much for the other is what gives them their strength as a couple. But seperate both are extremely strong characters too and even when things get rough and all hope is lost they pull themselves through. Each of them is intelligent in their own way and I love how much they compliment each other both as partners in a war but also in life. It was an incredibly satisfactory resolution for them after three books and I couldn’t have chosen a better ending for them.

“Arin pulled her onto his lap. He held her shaking form, tucked his face into the crook of her cold neck as she sobbed against him. He murmured that he loved her more than he could say. He promised that he would always choose her first.”

The way that this book was written was truly a work of art. The structure, the alternative POVs, the flow of the story, the pacing … it all just worked. I’m not one to notice stylistic things or literary devices but it was obvious to even me how beautifully Rutkoski had crafted this book. The entire thing was a sensory experience with Rutkoski setting the scene carefully for us  so that we saw, heard, felt and smelt every single thing that she wrote.

I have loved reading this series and watching everything in it develop so beautifully under Rutkoski’s hand. She really does have an amazing talent and I can’t wait for more books by her to immerse myself in.

“Will you come with me?”
“Ah, Kestrel, that’s something you never need to ask.”


Final Thoughts

It’s one of those bittersweet moments when you finish an incredible book series that ended fantastically and you can’t stop smiling because of it, and then you realise that you aren’t going to get any more of these characters and it makes you sad. (but in a good way!) Most definitely one of my favourite books of the year, but also one of my favourite series of all time.

Re-Readability: Most Definitely

I would recommend this book to fans of: YA Fantasy series, forbidden romances, rebellions.

Rating Beyond Loved

Have you read any of The Winners Trilogy? What did you think?

What are you most excited for in the final book?

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One Response to “Review: “The Winners Kiss” – Marie Rutkoski”

  1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I’m so glad you liked it! I was so excited about this book. Definitely one of my most anticipated reads of this year and I was nervous and excited when I started but I should have trusted Rutkoski and her amazing writing to deliver a good story. I’ve too often been disappointed by third books in a trilogy so it was nice to have a really good wrap up to the saga.

    I was so scared about what would happen with Kestrel and Arin, I mean, it seemed so unlikely the pair would get together at all! With the kind of twists we’d had so far I could never be sure they were both going to make it until the end but I adored the ending. It was the most satisfying thing to read once we got there.