The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (YA Review)

Book Review, Young Adult Books
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. Book 3 in The Winner's Curse trilogy. This young adult fantasy captivated me through the whole series!

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. Book 3 in The Winner's Curse trilogy. This young adult fantasy captivated me through the whole series!

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)


Book Synopsis

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.



Read the Whole Series

The Winner’s Curse
The Winner’s Crime
The Winner’s Kiss

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  • Reply
    January 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Another incomplete series on my shelves. Really worried about picking up the second book, though. Whelp. Glad this ended perfectly for you!

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      January 25, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      The second book is definitely different from the first, but it was good in so many ways. I hope you get the chance to read it!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Hmm… I read the first book and thought it was okay but didn’t continue with the series. I kind of like the way this one sounds and it sounds like a lot happened in the previous book. I will have to see if my local library has this trilogy and maybe give it another shot.

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      January 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      The writing is different. It took me a few chapters to get back into it each time I started a new book in the trilogy, but it was a pretty good series.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I just adored this series more than I expected. I read them all recently so they’re still close to my heart. Great review!

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      February 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      I liked this series a lot, too. I liked how it was set in a different world, but it wasn’t a full-blown fantasy in the traditional sense.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    It’s always brilliant when a series ends in just the way you want it to! I have yet to read the second book, although I have read the first one. Aren’t all the covers just so beautiful? It sounds like Kestrel really does go through a lot, and that you could really enjoy reading the conclusion. Yay!

    • Reply
      Dena at Batch of Books
      February 8, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      She does go through a lot! Wow. And yes, the covers are all gorgeous. I picked up the first book because of the cover and then I was hooked!

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