Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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?"

ReviewThis author's writing feels like a seduction. As Arin and Kestrel fall further under each other's spell, the reader falls further under the spell of the writer.  I admire her lyricism and was definitely invested in Arin and Kestrel's relationship.  Congratulations to Ms. Rutkoski on making me want read a romance trilogy!  

I was impressed with how she conveys how many layers are present in most relationships, even though most of us don't have so much drama in our relationships as Kestrel and Arin. I think most people can relate to having one person bring you both comfort and anxiety, among other things. I don't know if I'm making sense, but basically I thought the depth and complexity of the characters' emotions in this book (and series) were excellently and accurately done. It's pretty rare to find a YA book with this level of emotional intelligence, I think. 

That being said, the plot definitely is not as strong as the relationships she writes about.  The war was secondary to the romance, which was fine, I guess, since the romance was the central focus here.  But I thought the second book really upped the political anty of this series, only to have it fall to the background again in this book.  It was still a good, solid read with some strong moments of suspense and action.  It just wasn't on par with her characterization.  If only the plot was as strong as the characters this series could be really great.  

Review in a GIF:
love black and white kiss show dexter

Bottom Line: I probably won't read this series again, but it was a good romance, a solid trilogy, and I'm glad I read it once.


  1. Oh dear! Everyone I know loves this series and says I have to read it. I didn't know it was so strong on the romance side with a weak plot. I'll still read it but at least now I know what I'm getting into.

    1. I wouldn't say the plot is weak the whole way through- it was actually quite good in book 2. But the focus is definitely primarily on the romance. At least you won't have to wait for any of the books to come out and can read them all at once!

  2. I'm glad you still liked it even though the plot is weak. I've only read the first one and I wan't to read the others. I'm excited to find out what happens. I hope I like it!

    1. I hope you like it too! It was a solid series, but a little bittersweet at times. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think once you finish it!

  3. I thought this book wasn't as strong as the others as well. I miss Kestrel's strategic mind, and I didn't like that Arin had a voice in his head. I felt like a lot of the tension was gone.

    1. Yes!! I totally missed Kestrel's strategic mind as well. It was her strongest attribute, and it was a weird plot twist to have her struggle so much that way in this book.


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