The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Age Range: 12 – 18 years | Grade Level: 7 and up | Series: The Winner’s Trilogy (Book 3) | Hardcover: 496 pages | Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR) (March 29, 2016)
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.
But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?
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My Thoughts on The Winner’s Kiss
This was the perfect way to end the series. With so much emotion packed into the pages, I felt like I was there with Arin and Kestrel as they strategized, plotted, and fought battles.
The book opens right where The Winner’s Crime left off, with Kestrel headed for the labor camps in the sulfur mines. Her experience there is brief but horrible. She loses all her memories and almost loses herself. But since this is Kestrel we’re talking about, she fights her way back and becomes a girl both similar and different to who she used to be.
I have mixed feelings on the memory loss Kestrel experiences. On the one hand, it was an obvious attempt at giving her and Arin something to struggle over. If not for the memory loss, they would have been fused at the hip immediately. The lost memories gave them a reason to grow back together, rediscovering what drew them to each other in the first place. On the plus side, the situation made the book more interesting in the areas that didn’t involve their relationship. It made Kestrel face her complicated feelings for her father, gave us insight into the story, and showed us how strong and smart Kestrel is — even at her weakest.
It was a good way to end the series, and I still loved each of the characters. I liked watching them grow and change over the course of the series. If you haven’t read this series yet, I’d recommend doing so.
Content: Violence and non-descriptive sex
Source: I borrowed this book from the library.
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