The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, # 3)
By: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 29th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--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?
The Winner's Crime was a typical middle book in a trilogy where nothing good happens and it ends in a cliffhanger. I picked up The Winner's Kiss immediately upon finishing The Winner's Crime. I'm sure I've mentioned enough on the blog lately that I just don't have very much time to read, so when I find a book or a series that will hook me this much I have to take advantage of it. And so I read The Winner's Kiss in two days.
As the description says and we know from the end of The Winner's Crime, Kestrel's been exposed by her father and the emperor as a traitor and spy for Herran. The spymaster has been killed, and Kestrel has been quietly shipped off to a work camp in the frozen tundra to mine sulfur. The problem is, the prisoners there are drugged to keep them compliant. Kestrel knows she needs to escape, but doing so isn't easy when everyone around her acts like drugged out zombies.
I got so frustrated with Arin at the end of The Winner's Crime. I didn't see how he couldn't have at least wondered if Kestrel was being monitored and spied on. If all of the pieces of the puzzle he thought he'd figured out were true then surely it would have been possible that she wasn't able to speak freely. So I was annoyed at how easily he could sway from one extreme to the other and how quickly he could give up on Kestrel--again. Yet in the end, he made things right.
While Kestrel was at the prison camp and various other times throughout the book, Marie Rutkoski kept the sections short so that we got little snippets of what was happening but weren't overwhelmed with a bunch of detail and scenes that would have made the book drag. This helped us get a well-rounded view of all of the events while not getting bogged down in sections of the story that didn't matter as much as others. It also gave a nice effect for the passage of time. Even still there were pieces of the book that felt like they took longer than I would have liked.
I enjoyed how Kestrel and Arin both had things from their pasts that they had to overcome. Kestrel really had to work through her feelings for her father which I enjoyed reading. I liked Roshar as a friend. Of course, I had to roll my eyes at one part involving him.
-Sometimes a truth squeezes you so tightly you can't breathe.
-She was always being left. War always won.
-Kestrel wondered if every question is a way of putting yourself at the mercy of someone else.
-...he understood that there are some things you feel and others that you choose to feel, and that the choice doesn't make the feeling less valid.
-"It was him or you," he said softly. "You had to choose." Her graze fell to the wet grass beneath her, the wrapped bandage. She thought of her past. Her whole life. "I want better choices." "Then we must make a world that has them."
Truthfully, I feel like I've only touched the tip of the iceberg that is The Winner's Kiss, but I don't want to risk spoiling any of it for you. I enjoyed it very much. I was hooked and read and read until I finished it. I had a few frustrations, but nothing too major to complain about. The Winner's Kiss gets 4 Stars. Have you read The Winner's Kiss? What did you think? Let me know!