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Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski {Yomna's review}: 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?

SPOILERS! Do me a favor, please, if you haven't read this book, turn away now.

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My rating: 5/5 

I know this will sound crazy, but I'm pretty sure Marie Rutkoski wants me dead. She denies it:

But who writes a book like The Winner's Kiss and expect me not to make that assumption? It's clear in everything about that book. 
OH. MY. GOD. Where do I start? 

 
Before, we get too serious let's talk about the cover. I Photoshoped it into two different colors. But I do like the final cover. It's so stunning and graceful. A perfect blend of femininity and fierceness. A girl can wear a dress and still fight! Kestrel creates a perfect balance. And it was really amazing how Kestrel became stronger again in this book and recovered from those god awful camps. 

I absolutely, completely, loved this book. I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this book for a long long time. I haven't cried over a book for a while (like a week because I'm a crybaby.) Let me correct that. I haven't cried this much over a book for a long, long time.

It ended perfectly. I could not have imagined a better ending at all. It was a marvelous read, it never slowed, never failed to captivate. Thank you, Marie Rutkoski, you touched my heart, with your incredible story, your characters, your writing, and I am forever grateful. 
This might sound bad, but I read a lot of books that I soon forget, it's part of the reason I buy so little physical copies and more eBooks, because they fill space on my bookshelf that is better kept empty for books I'll forever love. I am definitely, convincing my dad to buy these book for me in hardcover, because I am not satisfied with the eBook alone. If he refuses, too bad, because I'm saving up and buying them myself. I feel like one day in the future, I will certainly re-read these books and remember my love and adoration for them.
Everything about this book is done perfectly. Literally everything. The supporting characters are all funny, kind, and fierce. The main characters are incredible and enchanting. And my heart ached with them at every single step.

“The night of the invasion. Kestrel’s back. His own. Roshar’s scarred face. His own. The way a body on the battlefield could look as if it had never been human, and that was exactly what Arin had wanted to do to Kestrel’s father, who was in this city, his city, in a prison made to be comfortable, when no comfort could return the man’s arm, and no walls could imprison Arin’s knowledge of what he had done and wanted to do and couldn’t regret.

Yet he did regret.”

Songs to listen to (while reading this book):
Christina Perri - the words
Jasmine Thompson - adore
Ella Henderson - hold on, we're going home / love me again
Beyonce - i was here
Sia - chandelier 
Any other beautifully heartbreaking hopeful song you know
Red on covers! 
Arin: I love him. He's so brave, fierce, and yet so undeniably sweet and romantic. And the best thing is that he's a main character too so we know more about him than any other character in any other book who is just a love interest. It was so much fun reading about him in this book. Learning more about his intentions, his heartbreak at Kestrel forgetting him. He's such a driven and determined character and for his every sorrow, I really felt his sadness and my heart hurt for him. 

“You are the road.
The sun.
The sky.
The horse beneath you.”

I wanted Marie Rutkoski to make it hurt. And I'm happy that she did and was true to the story. I could not be more satisfied.
Kestrel: Quite the strategist isn't she? I love her too. Love her bravery and her conviction. And her compassion. Her ability to see beyond her situation. Her ability to see beyond the fact that Arin was her slave and scarred, and broken, and still love him. Because I love their love. And I love her because she has gone through hell and back, yet still stays standing. 

“You’d be the best. I wish, however, that you didn’t always risk yourself. You’re too fond of a gamble.”
She shrugged helplessly. “I am who I am.”

Romance: I feel that romance is too lame a word for this. Their love is just so beautiful. So I correct myself:

Love: Some of the most emotionally draining scenes are in this book. They made my heart so happy it felt like roaring in delight. They were so mesmerizing and in an odd way, heartbreaking. Arin and Kestrel are just in this cruel world and their love was so hard, nothing comes easy, but when it comes, it's just incredible, and so powerful. Those moments between them, just provide relief from the more saddening parts of the story, and gave me hope for them, because surely, a love so beautiful, would always rise above everything else.  

“Kestrel . . . I’ve never—”
She whispered that this was new to her, too.
There was a long pause. “Are you certain you want—”
“Yes.”
“Because . . .”
“Arin.”
“Maybe you—”
“Arin.” She laughed, and then so did he, aware that they’d already found the bed. Words had fallen away. Maybe the words lay on the earth, nestled among clothes, curled into the undone dagger belt. Maybe later, language would be recovered and pieced together. Made to make sense. But not now. Now there was touch and taste and sound.
When he eased into her, she was glad for the burning lamp, the fuzzy glow of it on his skin. The way it showed the black fall of his wet hair, the flesh and scars that made him. She didn’t look away.”

My heart. The way the passage above is written, is just so enchanting. It carted me away from the world and made me forget all that is in it. 

Roshar: I know he's not a main character, but he was a character, and in this book he was incredible. Arin and Roshar's friendship was incredible and touching. I cried when they said goodbye. 

“Has he ever been aught but the gentlest of creatures? Would you deny your namesake the chance to bear witness to our victorious celebration? And, of course, to the vision of you and Kestrel: side by side, Herrani and Valorian, a love for the ages. The stuff of songs, Arin! How you’ll get married, and make babies—”
“Gods, Roshar, shut up."

I think, in this moment, Roshar represented me precisely. Plus the fact that everything that comes out of his mouth provides levity when it's time to move away from the tears and emotion. Yet, everything that Roshar says is deeply emotional in itself, and I wouldn't have liked any other way. 

The fate of the general: I think it's good that he didn't die. Kestrel and her father's relationship has been wounded since the beginning and it's wonderful that they get this chance to start from the beginning. Plus, you could see that Kestrel was grateful to Arin for not killing her father because no matter what, she loved him and had loved him since childhood, and that wasn't nothing. Even against all the things her father did. 

Valoria: Sure, the fate of Valoria was uncertain at the end of the book, and I don't know if I'm just too obsessed with this book to see any flaws, but I think there was beauty in that uncertainty. To see such a large, powerful, honorable, empire fall is in itself a lesson. Great things can fall. And great things with evil intentions will fall. 

Writing: Marie Rutkoski's writing captivates. And since I aspire to be a writer too, and hope that one day I find the courage to share my words, she is one of those authors that inspire me and I hope to acquire her immense talent. One of my biggest inspirations for writing are the books I read, and this book, with its raw and heart-wrenching chapters, will always be a source to draw insight from and learn from.

Goodbye: Some people have been reading this series since The Winner's Curse came out in 2014. I'm glad that I only read them in 2016 in January when The Winner's Kiss was to come out soon. It saved me a lot of agony while waiting for the sequel. I don't know how to say goodbye. I think, for these books, when you love them this much, you never truly do say goodbye, but for now, until my next read, I bid Kestrel and Arin goodbye, and hope they have a wonderful future full of happiness and hope and music, and hope they never have to suffer more than the occasional stumble. 

She sat the piano, touching the keys. "Ready?"
He smiled. "Play."
Love, 
Yomna

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