The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski : perfect book is perfect

I could never have imagined a better finale. It was absolutely P. E. R. F. E. C. T.

And speaking of, this whole trilogy was perfect. While The Winner’s Curse was a gentle introduction into the characters and their world, and the The Winner’s Crime was a tangled, nerve-racking web of hidden meanings and lies, The Winner’s Kiss felt so vastly different from the first two. It was different, but I loved it all the more because it was unique. The Winner’s Kiss is a much more violent, action-packed story with a fast-paced plot, realistic, flawed characters (and awesome side characters) and beautiful writing.
This book met all of my expectations, but frankly, I never expected it to. Finales are difficult, and eight times out of ten, I dislike the last installment, and that dislike diminishes my earlier love for the series. (See: Blood of Olympus) But this? Awesome. Perfect. It delivered everything I wanted in only 484 pages. ( Did I say perfect? No no, I found something wrong with this book. It should have been longer. I WANT MORE. MOREEEE).
I’ll try to do this book justice (This is gonna be hard), but I honestly will not be able to because the level of genius behind this is simply beyond me.
One of my favorite things about this series is its characters, which are relatable: they are flawed in that totally realistic way that makes them absolutely perfect. Let’s start with Kestrel. Rarely do I see an author explore different dimensions in a character. Or at least, I see half-hearted attempts, but nothing really delivers. Not true here: The changes and explorations that Kestrel’s character underwent were surprising and added another layer to the story. I found myself thinking that Kestrel had better have a happy ending, since she was one of those select few that actually DESERVES one. Kestrel deserves a happy ending, because she has been through SO. MUCH.
And then there’s Arin. Contrary to most of my friends who have read these books, I liked Arin from book one. There was something about his character that I could relate to, so in this book, it wasn’t so much that I was waiting for his character to grow on me, but rather, I was waiting to see what he will do, how his character would be tested and changed. And I wasn’t disappointed.

We also have wonderful side characters who are given ample page time to show us their own fabulousness, such as Roshar and his comic relief (and tiger), and Sarsine and her kindness and understanding. I also loved the exploration of Sarsine’s background. That was a delightful bonus.
The plot and writing were on point. What really stood out was the wonderful metaphoric style that captures you and forces you to really think about it. To visualize it. I loved that. I mean, take a look at this:
Kestrel thought that maybe she had been wrong, and Risha had been wrong, about forgiveness, that it was neither mud nor stone, but resembled more the drifting white spores. They came loose from the trees when they were ready. Soft to the touch, but made to be let go, so that they could find a place to plant and grow.
When I read that, I honestly closed the book and stared at the wall, contemplating how one could come up with that. That was awesome , and simply beautiful . How do you visualize something like that and write it down on paper? Wow.
Overall, this was a truly wonderful read. This whole trilogy has become one of my absolute favorites. I cannot recommend this enough.

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