Review: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Review

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Genre: YA, Alternate Universe (And, out a nowhere, a fantasy. Maybe.)
Pages: 484
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #3

Disclaimer: This review will contain spoiler for the previous two books of the series.

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3.5 Stars

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If I didn’t like this series, I would hate it for confusing me so much from the very first part. Because I swear I’ve been conflicted about my feeling toward this series since The Winner’s Curse.

With the first book, I really liked it but it had problems. With the second, it was good and improved but it had some annoying factors. With this one… *sigh* I don’t even know.

It starts off with Kestral in prison after the emperor and her father put her there. Arin thinks she’s a selfish brat (because that’s how she had to behave with him) and has gone back to Herran to fight for his people, with no idea about Kestral’s prison situation. It’s gonna be hard to win against the Valorians but he has help from the easterners, so that should make things more hopeful.

Hopeful, but not easy. Herran still has a long way to got because it can be free. And Arin is determined to get there; with help from the god of death, who whispers in his head.

I’m not sure if this was an attempt to add a fantasy element (which would be bad because it showed up out of nowhere) or if it was only Arin’s inner voice that he mistakes for death. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter but I’m not a hundred percent sure.

The writing was still good but there were too many short scenes — changing scenes every page or even more than once a page. It’s something that would have worked for the really important scenes that needed tension, but since it was present for most of the book, it didn’t work very well. The plot was quite unexpected; almost too unexpected. It felt like we were part of a completely different series sometimes. The tone changed, we had the “god” thing and there was Kestral not being the real Kestral.

Before this book, she had been my favourite character of the series. But in this installment, some stuff happens that changes her a lot. She’s not longer the strong-willed, smart character who always knew the right thing to do. Instead she became like so many other YA protagonists: indecisive, unnecessarily mean in times of uncertainty, riddled with denial and unable to figure stuff out. It was sad to see.

We did get a lot of her back, but not entirely. The person to replace her as my new fave was Roshar, who was totally awesome. So much fun and such a great guy. He made the loss of Kestral easier.

As for how this novel works as the series conclusion, I’ll say that it’s pretty good. I’m happy with how things ended. I would have been happier, though, if the execution hadn’t been a collection of short scenes. Overall, this was a good series and I’m interested to see what else Marie Rutkoski comes up with.

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