Warning; There will be spoilers for the first two books in the series. Not big spoilers, but enough that you will feel spoiled. Just a fair warning
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3 (Finale)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books
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?
So, this book was a thing! I'm still in shock over it! It was a very heartbreaking, nail-biting, amazingly fantastic conclusion to this series! I'm torn between feeling sad that this series is over and being happy that this was such a great conclusion! When starting this, I was so nervous that this book wouldn't meet the expectations that the first two books created for me. Needless to say, this book had a very high bar to meet and I am happy to report that this book didn't just meet the bar, it surpassed it! I loved this book so much! I loved the characters, I loved the war and the story, I loved the setting, I loved the romance, basically everything about this book I loved!
This book starts out right where The Winner's Crime left off. Kestrel is off to the work camp in the tundra and Arin is coming back from the East to start the war. When I started reading I was so focused on getting to the part where Arin learned about everything Kestrel kept secret. This was because I was so excited to read his response. The second book was literally leading up to that point and boy did that scene not disappoint! I loved the war of emotions that swirled like a sandstorm inside Arin and the agony it created. This sounds a bit sadistic but hear me out. I got so irritated with Arin and his self-doubt in the last book that I was incrediably happy to leave behind. He finally put all the pieces together and was like "gee, I was right". I appreciated that and his guilt.
Kestrel starts out at the work camp and I was truly terrified for her because that place is freaking messed up! All the drugs they gave her made me so scared for her and the emotions that she felt just made my heart ache! I was truly scared for her safety and her sanity! This says a lot about Marie Rutkoski's writing because when you connect enough with a character that you actually feel for them and their pain it makes the whole book better!
The book went on from there and holy crap it was a whirlwind! The onslaught of emotions this book created was wonderfully draining. The writing style is so fantastic because the emotions that the characters have just jump through the page. This book started off with a glimmer of hope which turned into devastation into hopelessness into sadness, into hope again. This author has such a talent for describing emotions that the characters feel. You get the sense that the emotions you are reading are real and they are real people being described. This aspect of Marie Rutkoski's writing really immerses you into the book and I loved it!
This whole series had been heavily focused on the romance and love story between Kestrel and Arin. The plot is driven by the political tensions and intrigue but it is focused on Kestrel and Arin. This bothered some people but I loved it!! The whole series is basically shipping Kestrel and Arin and I was on board! Kestrel and Arin have such chemistry and it's so great to read! Even when they hated each other they still worked! The emotions they had for each other were so real and so heartbreakingly beautiful! They longed for each other, they needed to be near each other and practically lived for each other! This was just so enjoyable to read! Especially considering there was never even a hint of a love triangle. However, they were still two separate people whose whole lives didn't circle around the other person. I appreciated this so much because it made their relationship even more realistic than it already was. Kestrel and Arin have the kind of love you wish for as a teenager while at the same time not being overbearingly cliche and I just loved it so much!
This book was amazing! I can't say more than that, well I could but it would just be more gushing and fangirling then actually reviewing the book, so I'll spare you that! The only aspect that I got a little annoyed with was how it didn't focus on any of the supporting characters at all. I was happy with how much limelight Kestrel and Arin got, but towards the end of the book I got a little disappointed that none of the other characters were being focused on.
Besides that one aspect, I loved everything of this book!! Arin and Kestrel had such chemistry, the war created a very nail-bitting story (I was so afirad Marie Rutkoski would pull a George R. R. Martin and just start killing everyone), the setting was beautiful as always, and I loved how the book ended. I like how everything was wrapped but still open enough that she could write another book. I just loved this book and series! Seriously, read this series (get it? I made a punny XD) These books are amazing!
This book got...
Beautiful, this is a great book.