The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

the winner's kiss

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: 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?

overall feelings copy

It is really hard to say goodbye to a final book in a series. Ever since the cliffhanger of The Winner’s Crime, I’ve been anticipating the release of The Winner’s Kiss. I have not encountered any spoilers on Tumblr. Thank the Lord. This review will be spoiler free.

What I love about The Winner’s Trilogy is how each book gets exciting and stressful at the same time. Stressful, say what? You read correctly. Stressful. Arin and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. First of all, she is Valorian and Arin is Herrani. Those two cultures don’t mix. He was a slave, and she was a society lady. Their love was never meant to happened. As much as I love those two, Kestrel and Arin went through a lot of misunderstanding and lying.  Arin and Kestrel have one of the most epic love stories in Young Adult Literature. They don’t have the perfect relationship, but they balance each other out. (This a spoiler for those who have not read started this series!)

Now, what I loved about this book is how much it focused on Arin and Kestrel’s relationship. I really did not know what to expect after that cliffhanger. I had my own theories on how the book was going to end, but I was proven wrong. For those who love the dynamic of the protagonist’s relationship, you will love, love, love this book. Kestrel is one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s not physically strong, but always uses her intelligence to gain the upper hand.  Though this book does demonstrate how much Kestrel has grown mentally and physically. As for the writing, it was phenomenal as always.  I love the way Marie writes.

This book was nearly perfect. I would have loved for more screen time for certain characters. The secondary characters were amazing in The Winner’s Crime. There’s a lot more of Roshar in this book than anyone else. He had many great lines throughout this book. Also, the bromance was top notch. Other than that, certain parts did feel a little dragged out, and I’m not talking about the war. Despite those flaws, the ending of this book was beautiful.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

“You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love… 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Commentary: Oh my gosh! This book was so good! There is so much I want to discuss! First of all, this book is very political and complex. The book starts off several years after the Herran War. The Valorians were the winners of the war and forced the Herrani into slavery.

Kestrel Trajan, what a character. She isn’t your typical fighter, she’s a strategist. She is cunning, smart, manipulative, and caring. She is the General’s daughter and is constantly pressured into joining the military for her skills. Her father sees how much good she can bring to the empire if she joins. One of my favorite scenes, had to be when Kestrel won her duel against Irex when she blackmailed him, even though he was far more superior when it came to fighting. Kestrel doesn’t want to be in the military, she wants her own independence. She is far more compassionate towards the slaves compared to any other Valorians.

Arin, is a slave and spy. He is just as intelligent as Kestrel. He works under Cheat, the leader of the Herran Revolution. He and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. They think they know what is best for each other. It did feel that both of them kept playing a game to get the upper hand in their relationship. What I really appreciate about this story is that both protagonists don’t instantly fall in love with each other. Their love slowly grows and I love the theme of forbidden love so much. I loved how much he tried protecting Kestrel. He protected her from taking the poison, he protected her from Cheat’s advances, and he protected her from becoming a slave. Secondly, I loved the two alternating pov. (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Praise the Lord! No love triangles! Sorry Ronan! Kestrel and Arin are perfect for each other. Ronan tries really hard to gain her affections, but she always ignores him and falls for Arin instead.  ੧| ‾́︶ ‾́ |੭

I did not like Cheat at all. He was corrupt and creepy. I, for one, am glad that he is dead.  Man, he was definitely my least like character next to Irex.

Kestrel and Arin have conflicting ideals, and they have to overcome their issues. Arin wants his people to become a nation, while Kestrel doesn’t want any more deaths for both sides. While reading, I felt sad for the people who suffered on both sides. I was rooting for the rebels to take back their lands. I was not that ending of the book! It was so good!!! I was shocked that the she was forced into a loveless marriage, just so the Arin and his people would have their independence, but at a price. I am really excited to see what’s in store for the second book cause I am hooked!! ╰(◉ᾥ◉)╯

Quotes: 

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”

“My soul is yours”, he said. “You know that it is.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆