Advance Galley Reviews
Wonderful book. Kept me interested the whole time. Love Mindy McGinnis from the first time I read A Madness So Discreet - and can hardly wait for her new one this fall. She is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors! :)
What I had time to read of this I enjoyed. I got started reading late and slowly. I was less than 100 pages from the end and really getting into it when my copy expired, but I'll be looking for a hard copy to finish!
McGinnis builds a really interesting fantasy world with diverse characters living out complex, oftentimes barbaric customs. It's unique, though not super fast-paced, taking a little time to get into. I felt like I was trying to catch up to who everyone was and the eccentricities of the different races at the outset, but eventually, I was there for the long-haul as war loomed and the sea rose and the story wound toward what I assumed was going to be an epic conclusion.
This story would provide a good springboard for dialog about the value of life.
This book was an interesting one. However, it was a bit difficult to get into as there were so many characters to follow and so many things going on making it confusing. I managed to read a few chapters through the book and still could not get into it before it expired. Maybe I will give it another try when it comes out.
Rating: ??? (3 STARS)
*Trigger warning for attempted rape & suicide
HUGE thanks to Putnam’s Children’s, Penguin’s First To Read, and Mindy McGinnis for the eGalley of Given to the Sea in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Goodreads Blurb for Given to the Sea gives a pretty detailed account of the plot and how all of the characters are tied together. So instead I’ll talk about some of the plot points and the things I enjoyed…
We start of our story with the main protagonist knowing that her whole existence is meant to serve as a sacrificial lamb to appease the Ocean.
Khosa (main protagonist) is no heroine jumping at the chance to save Stille and her people. She is also in no hurry to fulfill her role’s main requirement which is to bear a female child prior to being given to the sea.
Similar to many other stories of court life, we see politics at play. Khosa’s path does cross with that of the young prince who is 3rd in line to the throne.
While getting to know Khosa’s fears and wants, we are also introduced to other pivotal characters through multiple POV chapters.
Dara & Donil are Indiri brother & sister who were adopted since birth by the Prince’s mother. They lost their entire native race and since then have lived to protect those who took them in. The twins are feared by the people; known to have the ability to talk & walk from birth, they also possess certain abilities (a pretty cool superhuman ability lol) that make them excellent hunters.
We get introduced to the Pietra who pose a threat to Stille, the Pietra are led by Witt who obtained his rank or position by being the most fearless. Unlike in Stille, the elderly aren’t in positions of power. It’s up to Witt to cast away the elderly once they can no longer physically contribute.
The Pietra however, aren’t the only threat to Stille who has yet to yield the Given to the ocean. A tradition that they believe is necessary in order to pacify the ocean & keep it from wiping them out completely.
I however, found the outside forces such as the Pietra to be the most interesting part of the story. There’s a bloody history tying the Indiri & the Pietra that was touched upon and think we will get more of in the sequel.
Our main protagonist Khosa is strong willed & full with the desire to live although her fate has been decided since birth. Born into the line of women that have all been sacrificed to the ocean as the Given, she appears to have accepted her fate. Internally however, Khosa is angry & despises the idea of being set to breed at all. She wants to save her people & Stille however, a part of her resents them all. There wasn’t anything about Khosa that stood out to me as a likable quality, then again I would be bitter too if I was existing only to be sacrificed. Prince Victor gave me Dorian from the Throne of Glass series vibes & I could take him or leave him. Just like with Dorian, I wasn’t a fan of this Royal. I was however, VERY intrigued by Dara & Donil who are the Indiri twins adopted as Victor’s siblings. I LOVED their relationship with one another & how fiercely loyal they are. I also loved that Dara is actually made out to be the more lethal & stronger one (YAY Girls Rule! lol). Witt, the leader of the Pietra is a character I didn’t feel much towards even though he’s written as having a struggle with morality. Whether it’s the years of sending elderly to their deaths in handmade boats, or the brutal murders he’s witnessed & committed himself…we are made to believe that he doesn’t enjoy any of it. I however, wasn’t able to feel any empathy towards this character since all throughout this book he carries on sending people off to their deaths. I was satisfied with most of the characters development since the multiple POV’s allowed me to see things from each character’s perspective. I did wish that Dara & Donil’s POV’s were actually separated in order to get more from Donil.
WRITING & FINAL THOUGHTS
Given to the Sea is broken into multiple POV chapters, the focus being: Khosa, Victor, Dara, and Witt. As I mentioned before, Donil’s perspective is meshed in with Dara’s even though he has as big of an arc as Dara. I also struggled with half of these characters perspectives being told in first person while the other half is told in third person. Often times stopping while reading because of the awkwardness. It is the supporting characters and their histories that really drew me in and made for compelling story telling. The Indiri’s birth into this world was a bloody & painful one filled with loss & I found myself wanting to know more. I flagged this review for the following trigger warnings: attempted rape & suicide…the suicide is the “willing” sacrifice made by each of the women born to the lineage of the first given. There are also scenes of attempted rape that are a bit generous with the details. The reasoning behind the attempts is that the clock is ticking, the sea is angry, and the Given is not with child. Although I flew through this book, found myself feeling uncomfortable with many parts. Some i’ve described in this review & others i’m still sorting my feelings on. Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable scenes for me, was one between a woman from a group of outcasts that is described as missing all of her limbs and one of Witt’s men. I won’t go into detail other than to say that I felt this character was very much sexualized because of her missing limbs. This being my 1st Mindy McGinnis read, it’s clear to me that I may not be a fan of her Fantasy however, I am still very interested in her other books some of which I already own & will be reading later this year. Given to the Sea ended off possibly stronger than it’s slower start & for this reason alone, I will probably read the conclusion to this duology. I am attached to the Indiri twins and it is their story I would like to see to the very end ;)
This is a bit of an odd one, and ended up not being the book for me. While the premise was interesting, I wanted more world building and character development... and I wasn't a fan of the love square. I think having fewer POVs would have made the story feel more cohesive... but I abandoned the book about half way through so it may have improved after that point.
Well this was a tough one. The premise for this book was extremely interesting and I was excited to read it! The first chapter was good. The writing in general was beautiful and painted an exciting, crazy world, but there was just too much going on... Too many characters in too many places doing too many things. I had trouble trying to keep up. Unfortunately this book was so hard to get through that I was just trying to slowly make my way through it and it expired before I had a chance to finish it. I think I will try to finish it sometime after it comes out and maybe on a second go around I'll be able to follow it a little better.
I didn't get a chance to finish this book because of my busy school schedule but I enjoyed what I have read so far. McGinnis' writing is beautifully descriptive, and the world she created in this book is fascinating. Although I did find the different cities or countries confusing to follow and there are a lot of characters to follow as well which can get confusing. I had to make a list of them to keep track of who they were and what their role was. But again, vivid descriptions, "A slim volume, warped with time and edges curled with rain, falls to my hand instead. It is a guilty pleasure."
As a fan of Mindy's work, I was eager to read Given to the Sea. I was intrigued by the unique premise, but I found it difficult to follow at first. Multiple perspectives was definitely the right choice for this novel since the characters were spread apart not only geographically, but mentally as well. However, the use of so many characters created confusion at times, detracting from the plot. The first 50 pages or so we're challenging due to the sheer number of characters being introduced. The fact that 3 of which all had foreign names beginning with the letter D was a bit frustrating. I didn't care for Witt either. I understand that he was introduced early on for character development purposes, but I felt as if he was useless for the first 250 pages. It he was introduced a bit further in, that could have possibly solved some of the initial confusion.
As far as the plot, there were many enjoyable features. I loved the humor and plot twists, but I'm not a huge fan of love triangles. The flow of events generally made sense, but there were times when I questioned where I was, and I had to re-read certain pages to decipher a scene.
Considering the writing itself, this novel has perks. The use of colloquialism (in regards to the characters' dialect, not modern day society) added flavor to the culture of this book, and contributed to the world-building aspect of the story. Overall, 3.5/5 stars. I very nearly gave it a 4/5, but in all fairness some things just can't be overlooked. I do intend to read the sequel :)
When I saw that First to Reads was offering early access to this book, I jumped on the chance. I know it’s bad to judge a book by its cover, but can you look at that cover? Stories having anything to do with the sea, the ocean, ocean creatures, a n y t h i n g at all with water will have me begging to read them. I rated Given to the Sea a 4/5. Here are my likes and dislike.
The pacing. One aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was how quickly it moved along. The short chapters really helped with that. In the end of the story, the pacing quickened even more. This was crucial to the story because of all that is happening at once.
The different POVs. So in Given to the Sea, you get four different POVs. I found that each character provided good perspective to what was going on in the story. Mindy was able to make each POV distinguishable. In other words, I didn’t get messed up or confused while reading through the different POVs. The story moved along really well even with all of the character perspectives. I would have to say that my favorite POV would have to be Dara’s. She’s really magical and strong, so I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes.
The “dancing” to the sea. I loved this part of the book! Imagine not being able to control yourself as your feet takes you to the sea! Yes, it’s very brutal and haunting. It’s also very beautiful. As a reader, you witness Khosa “dance” a few times. When it came to her POV, I was waiting to see if the sea called to her.
The atmosphere. Given to the Sea created a magical atmosphere that enveloped me within the words. I love stories that transport me, and Given to the Sea certainly did just that. I felt that I was in the castle near the sea with Vincent, sitting in the library with Khosa, pulling life from the trees with Dara, and delivering the words of departure with Witt.
No character connection. I mentioned above that my favorite character was Dara. She’s strong, fierce, and snarky, which I loved. The thing is, I didn’t really connect with her. Actually, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I wanted to feel her desires and pain. Yes, I was able to place myself within the story, but I wasn’t able to feel the characters emotions.
Extra thoughts: Okay, so I have to admit that the majority of the women in Given to the Sea are treated like trash. I did notice it, but I didn’t have a huge problem with it because each female has their own strength. A couple of the female characters are able to demonstrate their strengths, but one in particular does not. I understand that this is just part of the story. In order for the story to continue (Given to the Sea is part of a duology), things had to happen the way that they did. I am hopeful that there will be more character growth and development in the second book!
I struggled to get into this one. I think it was just a case of not the right book for me.
I got this book from ‘first to read’ in exchange for an honest review and I was really excited to read it. Sadly I didn’t like this book as much as I thought, but I still enjoyed it and rated it three stars.
The first thing that threw me off were the many points of view. I got used to this after a while and actually appreciated it, but in the beginning it was very confusing, as I didn’t know any of the characters yet. The fact that some points of view were in first person, others in third person was also quite confusing to me.
I couldn’t really get behind this world as well, I just don’t like ‘worlds’ that are so very small and restricted. Reading this book I got the impression, that this world consisted of two bigger cities, one of which might have some more land outside of the city proper and a third region that was described more as a village. Other than that there was only the sea.
That’s just something that I do not like in books. Even if the rest of the world is in no way important for the blog and hardly ever mentioned I still want to know that there is something more.
The plot was interesting enough, but it seemed kinda drawn out to me.
There were five main characters, which in my opinion was a little to many, especially because I couldn’t connect with any of them. It was hard to make out distinct personalities or even follow their lines of thinking. Sometimes I couldn’t understand their actions at all.
The romance was just as confusing as the characters themselves, there were two overlapping love triangles that just complicated things way more than necessary.
All the negatives aside I’m still looking forward to the second and last book in this duology.
This book sounded like my kind of book, so I was very interested in getting to read it. It was a premise that I thought was unique and would be a refreshing change of pace in YA fantasy. It was very different, but I found it extremely difficult to get lost in this world as I normally would.
It's not that it wasn't good. It was. However, I was left with so many questions at all points of the book. The world was interesting enough, but I just didn't understand why. Why is the sea angry? Why does sacrificing one girl appease it? Does the sea actually have some sort on conscious or are the people just afraid of its power? My questions about the fundamental world building left me distracted for most of the book. There was also several chapters of politics and strategizing that just wasn't particularly interesting to me. Because of that, it felt like a lot of story to wade through to get to the more interesting parts of the story.
Wasn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be someone else's.
GIVEN TO THE SEA is built on an intriguing premise, but for me at least, it doesn't succeed. I completely adore the water and love books set by/on it, so this book was one I'd been looking forward to. I found the different POVs a little much to follow, especially in the beginning where so much world building and backstory are built in. Speaking of world building, I just can't buy the logic of why women are bred to be sacrificed. And when I can't buy the fundamental basis of the world, then, well, we're in for trouble. I've read McGinnis in the past, so to not like her newest release is disappointing. GIVEN TO THE SEA is a flawed letdown.
I really wanted to like this. I promise. It sounded like it was going to be amazing and I’ve heard such good things about Mindy McGinnis in the past. But unfortunately for me, this book ended up being a pretty big disappointment. Although there were some things I enjoyed (and for some reason, I still want to read the second book), this just didn’t live up to my expectations and managed to be quite offensive at times.
The first thing that annoyed me was that out of the four POVs we have, two of them are told in first person and two are told in third person. This may not seem like a really big deal, but it annoyed the crap out of me. I couldn’t find a good reason for the inconsistency and ultimately, all it did was make it difficult for me to connect to the two third person POVs. They ended up feeling much less personal to me and I kept forgetting who I was supposed to actually be following during those chapters.
The book also was quite slow in parts. I admit I was very intrigued by the first few lines in the book, but once I got a couple of chapters in, it wore off. It took me forever to get through the first half of the book because I was so bored. Those of you who follow my blog and have read my reviews before know that slow books are really not my thing.
Then we get into the more problematic content. These next few paragraphs will be filled with spoilers, so skip ahead if you don't want to read them (I've marked where they end). First of all, we have this really brutal group of people, the Pietra. I kind of get the sense that they’re meant to be villains, but I’m honestly not sure because Witt is the only Pietra POV we get and although he’s portrayed as ruthless, he’s also portrayed in a sympathetic way to kind of make you go “this poor guy doesn’t want to be mean, but he was raised to be like this.” Now, if his actions were a little less heinous, maybe this would be okay. But he’s fine with genocide and actively engages in eugenics. The Pietra, many years ago, wiped out almost an entire race, the Indiri, and he watched this happen and did not care at all. In fact, he’s pretty much shown as a strong leader because he didn’t care that an entire race was murdered in front of him when he was a kid. I’m sorry, what?! The Pietra also forces the old, sick, and disabled to “build a boat” to go to sea (translation: kill themselves) and if someone refuses to, they’re executed for treason because “it drains resources.” And if their family members continue to feed them and care for them, they’re executed too. Seriously?? And I’m supposed to be sympathetic to their leader because he occasionally feels sad about things?
This brings me to another thing I had issues with: the Feneen. The Feneen are a group of outcasts who have been abandoned for being born with disabilities. Now some of these are pretty ridiculous things that I don’t think are actually possible but others are disabilities that real people live with (for example, not having all their limbs) and yet the Feneen are portrayed as freaks that no one would want to associate themselves with. There was also some weird fetishism stuff going on that just made me cringe, even if it didn’t occur often. (A direct quote: “it’s easy enough to get my attention, even if she is only a torso with a pretty head attached.”) It reeked of ableism. I can’t decide how I feel about the fact that the book seems to be setting up for a sort of redemptive arc in the sequel where Witt realizes the Feneen are people, too. Maybe I’ll have to see how it’s done, but I don’t have particularly high hopes.
As a side note: if you read the blurb and thought that Khosa might be asexual and got excited, don’t be. Her touch-aversion is attributed to her having Feneen blood AKA she’s touch averse because of bad genes. Take that as you will.
One more thing that I almost forgot was the gratuitous attempted rape scene. I know McGinnis has written about sexual assault before and that many have praised how well that book (The Female of the Species) deals with the topic which made this even more upsetting to me. After Khosa keeps refusing to get pregnant, the king encourages people to rape her and we get an attempted rape scene. I really don’t see how the inclusion of this little subplot added anything to the story whatsoever and so I really don’t understand why it was included at all, other than that it’s a common thing in fantasy.
END OF SPOILERS
And yet somehow, with all these problems, there were still things I enjoyed and that kind of make me want to read the next book (although I certainly won’t be spending my money on it).
I liked the relationships between the different characters. Although I have to say, if you don’t like love triangles, avoid this book like it’s the plague. There are 4 characters who are all kind of in this mess of a love square. I don’t even know how to explain it. I’ll admit it makes for some interesting scenes, but if you don’t like love triangles, I honestly can’t see how you’d enjoy Given to the Sea. If you set that aside, the relationships between them are pretty interesting and the dialogue between them is often engaging and funny. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting all the sex jokes that were in this book, but there were quite a few (and most of them were quite funny).
The ending was another redeeming aspect of the book. It certainly made up for some of the duller moments in the beginning. There were quite a few twists and turns toward the end. I think this is probably 99% of the reason why I want to read the next book: I want to see how everything plays out.
When it comes down to it, Given to the Sea ended up being quite a disappointment. Although part of me is still interested to see where the next book goes, I can’t look past the many problems I had with this one. If you’re a die-hard YA fantasy fan, you might want to read this but otherwise, I think it’s safe to skip over it.
I did not like that this book focused so much on the Given being bred. I understand it is a major part of the story but I got tired of hearing about it. I wanted to know more about the Indiri and the Feneen. The Pietra made no sense to me and the Stilleans were pretty boring. I'm not sure I will be picking up the second book.
I will be honest: I really, really tried to like this book.
It was a fascinating premise: a maiden forced to die by running into the sea to appease it after giving birth to an heir. However, the book focused more on the latter part of the whole idea. In fact, it was obsessed with it.
Almost every conversation revolved around sex. Khosa producing an heir, Vincent having an arrangement to sleep with a random girl in town, how "good" someone is in bed, etc.
It was so focused on sex that it forgot everything else around it, including any world building and character development.
I'm seriously disappointed at the lack of development of what could be an amazing story. I kinda wish I had that time back that I spent reading it.
I loved this book! The story is complex with layers of intricate world-building, beautiful prose, and well-drawn characters. Told in multiple POVs, the story arcs intersect wonderfully and the tension is off the charts. It's dark and dreamy and I can't wait for the next book.
Given to the Sea is certainly a love it or hate it type of story. Let's start with the good: Mindy McGinnis' prose is beautiful, and the story is certainly original and creative. The bad though is that there are four different POV's, with different tenses as well, so the writing eventually distracts from the story and characters. The plot was interesting at times, but I found myself skimming most of the second half of the book. The ending doesn't suggest a second book, though there is to be one. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be picking it up whenever it's released. However, McGinnis' writing is interesting enough that I still want to check out her other works.
This is not a book one would read if they hope for a joyful ending. This is not a light read meant for pure enjoyment. I felt it was more meant for adults to contemplate life - what is fair, what is right, what is expected, what is forced upon our path. Because I read to escape reality and hope for happiness in the end, this book was difficult for me to get through. I could tell that relationships were not going to end as I would hope. I struggled to like any of the characters because I could see that no one would gain their happily ever after. Some may say that one person received their heart's desire, but I believe deep down, none of them did. Yet, it was written in such a way that I want a second book to be written and I want to read it. There is still so much more that I feel could happen. I still strive for the happiness that is possible if they stop letting society hold them back. I just feel so sad for all the characters. Each of them were written to pull at my heart strings. Life is just unfair in the world that was woven for them.
I had this book on my TBR list for a while so I was excited when it was offered in the First to Read program. This book was okay, but not my favorite. I was very confused on the world and different races. The beginning chapters alternated so quickly that they left me incredibly confused on what was happening. I felt like a lot more could have been explained about this world - such as what started the whole Given process, why the Pietra were killing every race, was it simply never ending bloodlust? I really liked learning about the Indiri, but felt like they were really underutilized. There was a much more interesting story with their history than the Given. I would have definitely preferred it to focus on one larger thing whether it was the war between Stille and Pietra, the Given and the rising sea, the last of the Indiri, etc. I was not a fan of the weird romance situation in this book, either. It felt unnecessary and wasn't very convincing to me that there were much true feelings. Overall, it was a potentially interesting story that should've been focused more.
Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (Book One of the Given Duet)
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Khosa is Given to the Sea-- a gift of flesh for a watery foe. Her sacrifice promises protection for a bountiful kingdom that fears nothing but a murderous wave. When an unexpected enemy in the form of the Pietra starts to make its way inland, Khosa flees to the royal city where she captures the heart of the young prince and enrages his adopted sister, Dara. As one of the last two Indiri, Dara knows that she owes her loyalty to her people, but she can't keep her heart from going towards Vincent. Vincent who is third in line to the throne and relatively powerless. Still, as the waters demand the Given and the Pietrans march towards his city, Vincent's forced to make a choice: keep Khosa from going to the sea or protect his people from the bloodshed of war?
As Khosa was called to the sea, I was not called to this book. Although the premise and the world are fresh and interesting, they do lend themselves to a lot of problematic situations. For the most part I found the writing entertaining. However, I thought there was an unnecessary emphasis placed on sex. There are so many sexual innuendos that it isn't even funny. Also, although there's an openness to sexuality, most of it has a negative connotation. Khosa's position as the Given carries with it the duty to have a daughter. United with her unwillingness to be touched, this sets her up in a delicate position where she has to constantly fear being raped. Although Dara is in a completely different situation, rape nonetheless hangs over her head as well. I don't understand why both female protagonists need to fear being abused.
The Feneen and the Indiri were my favorite parts of this novel. Both marginalized, they're nonetheless the strongest races in the entire book. However, instead of fighting the customs that make them marginalized, they actually encourage them. The Indiri are segregated because their race is too strange and powerful. Those of Stille don't want mixed blooded Indiri because they fear them; but actually neither do Dara and Donil. Nothing is as important to them as maintaining the purity of their race so they willingly keep themselves apart. The reasons for not wanting mixed blooded children are different, but in the end the message is the same: mixed blooded children are bad.
As bad as mixed children would be, they aren't as bad as handicapped children. One of the most problematic settings of this world is that both Stille and the Pietra abandon their unwanted children for the Feneen, and often these children are unwanted because they're handicapped. Additionally, the Pietra also sentence their old and infirm to death. As a community of handicapped individuals, I loved the Feneen for their strength and their cunning. However, the Feneen are also represented as angry and vengeful while simultaneously doing anything necessary to make themselves useful to the community that shunned them. I found this combination a little bit hard to believe.
I kept reading hoping that these faults would be rectified in the end. I don't think authors should shy away from problematic world settings as long as they can show a disapproval by the main characters and other important characters. However, although there is a movement from the main characters to change these customs, most of the movement arises from self-interest rather than from enlightened morality. In the end, very few of the problematic situations are properly rectified, and I don't really see why they were necessary to begin with. I will not be reading the second book in this duet.
This novel, although well written, was just not enjoyable for me. I have not read any of the author's other books and I really am wondering if I will read any of them now. It seemed like the story just drug on and some things were just completely unnecessary. Would have loved a little faster pace to keep you going.
This was a strange, strange book.
I had a lot of problems with it, the first of which was the swapping between POVs and tenses. From one person to the next, one POV might be first person present or third person present. And honestly, I find third person present to be very jarring to read. I was able to get used to it after a while, but it wasn't particularly pleasant.
I have to say, I've read others of Mindy's books, and I was fairly disappointed. I couldn't figure out why Dara and Witt had a perspective at all, let alone why we were reading about Witt. And that love square? It completely peeved me. I can sometimes deal with a love triangle if it's done well enough, but this just seemed awkward and unnecessary. Why did Vincent and Donil both need to have a thing for Khosa. And then Vincent having a thing for both Khosa and Dara. It was completely unnecessary and overdone.
the only character I found myself connecting with was Donil, and there wasn't nearly enough of him. We didn't get his perspective, and instead we got his sister, who irritated me to no end.
And I don't even understand this world. What is even the point of the given. I don't get the magic or the Indiri. They're speckled? What does that mean? Are they dark with light spots all over? Are they light with dark spots? I don't understand. And what about this supposedly big wave and the creatures that will overtake the kingdom if the Given isn't sacrificed. The world building was seriously lacking, and I couldn't help but be left confused.
Because of all this, I found myself really not particularly interested. I was hoping only for one possible outcome. I skimmed the last few pages and found that wasn't what happened, so I ended up DNF'ing at page 248. Sorry, book. I tried, but I just couldn't.
Unfortunately I think this one is a "it's not you, it's me" kind of thing. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters and found most of them pretty unlikable, especially Khosa. I expected her to want to fight a little harder against the future being forced on her, but she doesn't really until the end a little. And all of the men just sleeping around like it was no big deal was just, blah... I couldn't get into this one at all. It seemed to revolve too much around sex
I give this a 2.5 stars out of 5. I really did enjoy this book but this book sure makes you lose faith in men, there is not a one that doesn't sleep around okay the prince just sticks to one for a while and refuses to be like his dad so I guess maybe he is the only faithful one there. Still though its just too sad. So we have a prince who doesn't want to be king a Given who doesn't want to dance to the sea and die and some of the two last Indiri who are basically the last of their kind and everyone likes someone but the other person likes someone else. Oy big cluster of drama. Which of course kept it interesting enough to read and I do want to read the second book but your going to have to give me something to hope for, part of me was just wanting the two girls to get together against the world kind of thing and tell them all where to shove it. But that didn't happen either. I do like Dara the best because she does tell anyone and everyone that tries to tell her what to do exactly where they can stick those words.
I could not get into this book. The beginning was intriguing enough, but very slow, which affected my enjoyment. I found I liked glimpses of what I saw of the world-building and the circumstances behind Khosa's story. For the most part however the characters are hard to like. Thus it took a long time for the book to hook me, and I'm not even sure it did. The story does not maintain enough momentum, and perhaps it's just a matter of my mood, but Given to the Sea left me feeling cold.
When I saw the cover of Given to the Sea on FirstToRead, I had to request it. The blurb was definitely intriguing, so I was very curious to start this book. The sea can show itself in very different ways. So does this story. We see the story through the eyes of different characters: Donil, Dara, Vincent, Khosa and Witt. The constant changing of POV will make you a little off-balanced. Just as with the different tides: a little seasick.
First, there is Khosa. Khosa is a girl destined to sacrifice herself to the sea, as her mother, mother's mother and all ancestral women before her. Because if 'the Given' will not sacrifice herself (after delivering her daughter first), the island of Stille will be destroyed by the sea. However, there is a small problem in getting Khosa pregnant: she is repulsed by human touch.
Then there is Vincent, the grandson of Gammal (King of Stille). Even as a prince, he is an outsider and a stranger among his people. Therefore, he feels attraction to the strange girl Khosa. But when he is ordered to get Khosa pregnant, in order to save the Kingdom, he is torn apart: should he comply to save his kingdom? Or does he leave Khosa alone, since she is silently craving for the touch of Donil?
Donil, twin brother of Dara, and last of the Indiri race is the only one whose touch Khosa can endure. Will Donil be attracted to Khosa? Or will his sister, Dara, compel him not to go near this lonely girl? Because Dara sees Khosa as a threat. As the last Indiri girl, Dara wants to have offspring from the royal family. And Khosa is getting in the way, because prince Vincent has his eyes set on Khosa.
And let's not forget Witt. He leads the Pietra in a war against Stille. But Dara and Donil will use all of their magical powers to stop him. Because the Pietra were responsible for the annihilation of the Indiri race.
So... we have Witt, who hates Dara. Dara, who secretely loves Vincent. Who is pining for Khosa. But she hunkers for the touch of Donil. What a mess... And if you think the tides will clear this mess up. Well... Sorry to disappoint, although the sea does have a big role in the final stage of the book. But for further information, you will have to wait for the new book. I'm not sure, if I will pick the sequel up yet. Two out of five stars from me.
The premise of the novel itself is very interesting, but the biggest problem this novel suffers from is character development. It’s not even that the characters are unlikeable, well except for one. At first glance Dara seems like a very strong female character, she’s a warrior and devoted to her prince and brother. However, once Khosa enters the picture the green-eyed monster takes over her and turns her into a very unlikable character, she becomes petty to the point where she’s rude, she’s careless, and she’s vindictive. She’s just not likable at all and that’s probably one of the biggest turn offs of the novel because one-third of the novel takes place in her perspective. The context offers up a point of view where the author intended to make her a scorned lover, verging on the sympathetic, but it doesn’t work out at all. By the end of the novel, the reader wants nothing to do with her.
As for the other characters, Donil is as charming as could possibly be and Vincent is as sympathetic as Khosa. Both of the characters have no control over their lives and they are dealing with it as best as possible. Their circumstances don’t necessarily allow them to develop, for much of the novel they remain the same. In fact, they don’t really develop at all. By the time the book has begun they’ve made peace with their fates' even if they continue to fight against it within their inner narrative. That is the same for all the characters in the novel, they just move through the novel in a straight line, and that’s it.
However, there is one character the story could do without, and that’s Witt, other than invading Stille, his character serves no purpose at all. He seems honorable at times, but, much like with everyone else, there is absolutely no character development at all.
The story itself does have promise. There are a lot of inner workings in the novel, schemes here and there that allow the story to flow and grow on its own. There’s definitely promise for the sequel to see how the characters may have changed and how the dynamics might as well, but for this novel, right now the characters are, for the most part, lackluster and some of them are just not likable. (????? C+)
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, it has such promise. A story revolving around the power of the sea. But, no, I sped read during the last half of it just to see what happens to the characters. The characters were the best part, except Khosa, I did not care for her. The others had everything I want in a character, so developed. It was the plot and the fact that it was so dependent on sex. I will probably skip the next one should this turn into a series.
A 3.5 but I lowered it to a 3. This was a weird book. I had a hard time connecting with it. The characters weren't very well-rounded. I liked parts of it, the whole concept was interesting, if barbaric. I thought the different people and cultures were very interesting. But the book was very slow and it was hard to get into. This was my first Mindy McGinnis book and I've heard great things about her other books but not sure if I will be reading the follow-up Given book.
First off, I really enjoyed this book; however, I don't really think I'd call this YA. Some of the subject matter is waaaay too much for most of the YA age spectrum (I'm thinking probably inappropriate for anyone under the age of 16-18). And because some readers of any age may require trigger warnings, I will say that this book contains many references to, and at least one scene of attempted, rape. So, if you have any problems with it whatsoever, please avoid this book as it is a major plot point.
The political intrigue in this book is very well executed and the characters are dynamic. I especially like the way race is addressed with the Indiri. In fact, I think Dara is my favorite character. I'm deeply invested in her story arc and hope that she continues to be strong in the next book, hopefully finding happiness.
I think the parts that I was least interested in was Witt's perspective. I guess a villian needed to be present, but I think he was the least fleshed out, especially since at the end (at least of this first installment) his efforts were nearly inconsequential. The ending seemed a little rushed as well, but I definitely enjoyed my time in this world and will return.
Plot: Given to the Sea was a wonderful high fantasy novel that managed to bring the human element to all sides of the conflict. Khosa, like her mother before her, and her mother's mother, was destined to dance to her death to appease the sea gods. Without her sacrifice, the world would be consumed by a giant tsunami, and kingdoms would be lost. People were uneasy around her because she had yet to deliver a child and a neighboring kingdom decided that was the perfect time to invade.
Despite its size, Given to the Sea explored a lot of ideas and never seemed to stall - even though it wasn't an action-packed novel. McGinnis examined the idea of sacrifice on multiple levels and heavily focused on the idea of using women as a mean's to an end. I'm not sure if she accompanied a message with these numerous scenes, but it definitely made me think about the role of women in this world. This novel also solidified the fact that McGinnis does not like formulas, Given to the Sea was unique and its ending lines lingered with me for a few days. When I finished Given to the Sea, I didn't know that it was the first part of a duology and I am extremely eager for the concluding novel.
Characters: Given to the Sea was told from four perspectives, but only two of those perspectives were told in the first person narrative: Khosa, the Given, and Vincent, the prince of Stille. Although Donil and Dara are both important characters, only Dara had chapters, which I thought was a loss - Donil had a lot of good back story that I would have liked to learn more of. And lastly, we had Witt who had the least amount of chapters. Witt was the equivalent to a warlord in the kingdom of Pietra. Because I'm basic, I fell in love with the prince almost immediately. Vincent was a young man who didn't want to serve his kingdom and had a rocky relationship with his lecherous father. I found him to be cunning, but also vulnerable, and his conversations with Khosa made him seem almost happy. Khosa, on the other hand, had been raised in isolation and wasn't used to societal norms, or how to show emotions. I, at first, loved the idea of a young girl trying to navigate her way in a new world, but her lack of emotions was only apparent when McGinnis remembered to mention it.
Worldbuilding: McGinnis' world was nothing short of magnificent. I fell easily into the world and could understand the various conflicts and superstitions that each group had. I loved how McGinnis used every part of her creation, from the flora to the creatures. Everything served a purpose and helped make the three lands three-dimensional. I really look forward to the conclusion because I know that there are more stories and histories to explore.
Short N Sweet: Given to the Sea is remarkably original and will leave you feeling some type of way.
I was really intrigued by the synopsis and the cover is stunning. The first few chapters of the book through me off a little bit, I am not a fan of having so many perspectives (4 in total) and I really was not a fan of having 2 of the point of views in 1st person narration and the other 2 in 3rd person, it really pushes you out of the story and makes it difficult to connect with the story or the characters. This book also featured a lot of rather dark subjects, with that said the underlying theme of the book is the battle of right and wrong in human perspective and how it varies with each person's outlook, location and upbringing and I really enjoyed that constant theme and struggle. Obviously, there are a lot of characters and moving plotlines throughout this book, I found some of them more intriguing than others. I was not a huge fan of Khosa or Vincent, who seem to be the main characters, both of whom fail to take much action and just let life take them where it will. I much preferred Donil, Dara and Witt, all of whom were more of sub-characters but had very interesting back stories and cultures that I am curious about. There is also a lot of worldbuilding, while it is not entirely clear on some elements of the various cultures, you have enough information to work with so there aren't any major holes. I did receive an eARC but a map would have been very helpful with picturing the world, when groups started traveling I had a difficult time picturing their journey or how the lands are connected. All in all it was not a great read for me, I felt very disconnected from the story and the characters, I honestly didn't care what happened to them. There are several plotlines left open for a potential next book but it is closed out enough that you could be satisfied with this ending. I would give this book a rating of 2 stars, depending if the focus of the next book were to shift to one of the characters or cultures I found more intriguing, I may pick up a second book but it wouldn't be high on my priorities.
Given to the Sea to live up to its potential. With the exception of Witt and the Pietra people (who unfortunately receive the least amount of attention), the culture and character-building fell flat. My biggest issue is that literally every problem revolves around sex and babies: who's having it, who wants to have it, who can't or won't have it, etc. It doesn't matter if the issue is politics, race and heritage, institutional discrimination or THE WEATHER, the problem is ultimately rooted in sex. Powerful characters like Dara are reduced to pining after their adoptive brother (?!?!) and worrying about how she'll propagate the Indiri race rather than putting the focus on developing her own internal strength. The magical elements held promise, but failed to intrigue me and don't rescue the flatness of the story. Sorry to say I won't be back for book 2.
It started off slow, very slow I found myself losing interest and not wanting to continue. I did it was great but it wasn't bad either. The multiple POVs were distracting from the story I felt I didn't really know any of the characters. I didn't care about what happened to them in the beginning but as the story continued I found myself liking a few of the characters and some not so much. There were points that I felt completely lost I didn't understand what happened. But overall it is a nice read.
When I saw the title and cover of Given to the Sea, I expected a book about people who love the sea, not people who fear it. I received a digital galley from the First to Read program, and I will admit, I did not really pay attention to the description. I love the ocean and I love fantasy, so this seemed like a must read. However, the characters in this book feared the Sea as much as I love it.
At first, the fear of the ocean made it hard for me to engage with characters, but I could relate to the call The Given feels, even if the sea calls to me in a less lethal way. The plot was also a little slow in the beginning, but shortening it would have made the book feel rushed. The short chapters and alternating point of view kept me engaged. Once I got half way through, I was hooked, and had to finish the book. I found myself reading on my breaks at work and while I was eating dinner as the pick up in pace, tension and stakes combined with the short chapters made the book difficult to put down.
There was a lot going on both plot and character-wise, and I did not know what to expect as the romance and action kept twisting. I was a little surprised by the end, and feel like I was left hanging. I’m assuming there will be another book – one I am now eager to read.
I loved the writing in this book. It was just exquisite. The imagery was wonderful. The flow was wonderful. I found myself whisked away by the writing only to realize many chapters later that I was reading a story and that none of it was real. That is the true magic behind this story and I loved it!
Love. Love! LOVE! the world-building in this story because, while complicated and full and bursting with backstory, it's offered where necessary. It's not just dropped on the reader. It's woven into the story and made vital to what is going on at that time, which allows the reader to be tantalized and always learn something new throughout the book. I also just love the world that was created in this story!
Welcome to the land of the dark, the crass, the blunt, and the laying it out in the open. If you are expecting a pretty, innocent, adorable little fantasy read, turn around and walk away. This is not that book. This book is dark! And by that I mean, it's realistic. It does not shy away from some horrific topics and offers a shuddering sense of realism to the story that may not be suitable for all readers. However, that is one of the exact reasons I enjoyed this book.
Way to Wrap it Up
Well... that ending did not do the rest of the book justice. I mean... what happened? Did we run out of room in our word count? Or perhaps there weren't enough pages to continue printing? Because that's surely what this ending felt like. The story just threw itself together at the end in a matter of a couple pages, giving no depth or emotion or beauty or even closure that the rest of the book had offered. It was just a rush job, which never ends well and most certainly didn't end well in this case.
I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It took everything in me to finish it. The premise was great and I was excited to read it. As I was reading, I noticed this book was full of sexual references and I became highly frustrated very quickly. I didn't like the way the book focused on this topic. A little bit is fine, but my goodness! Every chapter had a sexual comment about men taking women to bed or something along those lines. I didn't like the message that was sent basically saying that all women are good for is making babies. This took away from the reading experience. I liked the idea of our main character being a sacrifice to save her people and thought it would make and interesting story. As it turned out the only thing she was good for was to "breed" with a mate, have a daughter to take her place as the given, and then sacrifice herself to the sea. I wanted a story that had more content rather than focusing on the sex aspect! I just wanted more out of this story as I had high expectations for this book after hearing about how great her novel The Female of the Species was. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me.
The story centers around Khosa, Vincent, Donil and Dara, and Witt. A lot of main characters but I care about all of them, though Dara disappointed me in the end. This works as the first in a series but not so much on its own. The ending requires a follow up.
Given to the Sea was one of my anticipated releases after I've read Mindy McGinnis's A Madness So Discreet and heard a lot of good things about her recent The Female of the Species, which I really want to read as well. Given to the Sea in author's first fantasy novel, and one of the things that really interested me about this book is that it was about the sea, and we don't have enough 'sea' books in fantasy genre. Well, all my expectations drowned when the wave of disappointment caught up with them.
This story is about a girl Khosa. She is Given to the Sea - a sacrifice meant to be fed to the sea and calm the roaring depths from rising a wave and destroying the human Kingdom. After an unexpected attack Khosa is whisked to the safety of the loyal palace, where she becomes friends with prince Vincent and warrior siblings Dara and Donil, but also where she's closer to the Sea which calls to her. Meanwhile the Pietra Kingdom is preparing to conquer every speck of land, including the Kingdom Khosa is hiding in.
If you ask me what was happening in this book for almost 350 pages, I wouldn't be able to give you a straight answer. There was a lot of talk about Given to the Sea, a lot of talk about war, more talk about the Given and that's it? We don't get enough of the world-building, we don't get answers why things the way they are. Why do every 17 or so years the sacrifice is needed? We are practically locked inside the castle and all we get is how every one is obsessing with war and Given.
One thing that disturbed me a lot is how women are treated in this book. Every man wants to rape Khosa or thinks about it. The King even announces a reward for anyone who'll manage to impregnate Khosa. It's really disturbing.
I didn't like the love square or whatever it was. Everyone is in love with everyone and they can't stop obsessing over each other.
The only thing that I thought would make this book somehow stand out is that Khosa can't touch another person or in other words she is repelled by other person's touch or when she touches them. Now, I googled the thing and seemingly the phobia is called Haptophobia. But I am not sure, correct me if I am wrong, please. But all my hopes for an interesting development involving this phobia evaporated when Khosa found one man who is also her love interest #2 she can touch. I don't get why women in this book must be so dependent on men in everything.
Intriguing concept, but underdeveloped. This book lacks world-building and character-development. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything about Given to the Sea to enjoy.
I was pleasantly surprised with this book because it turned out a lot differently than what I had expected. The author did a good job at world-building without making it dull with pages of details.
The book follows four main points of view, Khosa (the Given), Vincent, Witt, and Dara. They had interesting stories, but it jumped around a little too much. The story gave off a Greek mythology feel and I really liked that about it.
The ending was unexpected, in that it didn't feel like the typical ending to a book. I hope there is a sequel because I'd love to learn more about Dara and Dontil (her twin brother), or the lost Indiri race in general.
I would recommend if you're a fan of mythology and fantasy. I'm not sure I'd recommend this as a standalone novel though, because the ending left me wanting more!
I had a lot of fun in this world while reading but I came away feeling sort of underwhelmed. I liked and was interested in all four narrators story lines, though I found Witt a little boring from time to time (his character was a little hard to believe). There's no sequel listed on goodreads yet which just puzzles me. I understand an author trying to leave a story open-ended in case a sequel opportunity arises but, whether or not that's the case here, this felt like a strange way to leave things. This entire story was a TON of pining with very little emotional payoff and it left me a little tired. I still enjoyed the reading experience overall, I'm just left with more questions than I would prefer. Great world, good ideas, okay execution.
I was not sure what I was getting into when I started reading this book but I went along for the ride anyway and what a ride it was.
Given To The Sea is filled with betrayal, treachery and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It is also a complex and intricately plotted tale. While I was reading it I was in awe of the author's thought process and imagination in crafting this story.
If you are looking for a unique read I cannot recommend this book enough. I'm not going to lie this book is weird but weird in a wonderfully beautiful way.
I know this book and its characters will stay with me for a very long time and with the way it ended I'm hoping there will be more stories set in this highly intriguing world.
The narrative is divided between four first-person narrators, Dara, Witt, Vincent and Khosa, each a main character in their own way. Vincent, the prince, Witt the leader of the other tribe, Dara, the last of her people and Khosa, the given, the sacrifice.
The book is beautifully written, almost poetic with a dose of myth and folk lore. I enjoyed reading it just for the writing.
However, I was expecting more to the story, I kept waiting for something to happen, maybe Khosa found out more about the three sisters, or Dara finding another Indiri, or Witt falling in love with Khosa, or the reason they are afraid of the sea. The story feels stunted and not fully developed, like watching a documentary that claims to have found Atlantis and mermaids and the entire lost kingdom, but only show brief shots of some stones lying around without any explanation what they think those stones were or why they think there could be mermaids or any cgi of an artist impression of what they think the kingdom may have looked like in the past.
I couldn't understand what is the main objective of the story and all the deaths, but I think I might like it if the story had been developed more.
I was so excited for this book but I couldn't get into it. This book followed 4 different characters and sadly I couldn't connect to any of them. Plus, I found this book to be really weird. I couldn't really follow what was going on, mostly because I wasn't interested. I feel like most people would probably like this book but it was not for me
This is an incredibly well-written book, but the story itself is very dark. The book is told from several viewpoints, including Khosa, who is the girl that will be given to the Sea. Khosa struggles to feel happiness and feels she has let down those who have raised her. She feels no connection to a man, but must give birth to a daughter before she can be sacrificed to the Sea. The book begins with death, and death is the main theme of the book, which isn't quite what I was expecting.
The story itself is dark and winding, however, the writing is beautiful. The plot is well-done, despite its darkness and depth. It is not a story I would want to read again, but it is beautiful in its own way.
Oh my goodness, what a story. Even as excited as I was about this book, I was not prepared for the full tale and the ending. I thought it was going to be a loosely inspired greek mythology retelling of the sacrifice (and saving) of Andromeda to the Kraken. I thought wrong, aside from the fact that there is a girl and an ocean.
Given to the Sea is an epic story told from the point of view of several characters. This includes Khosa (the Given), Vincent (a prince of Stille), Dara (an Indiri warrior) and Witt (a Lithos of Pietra).
Khosa, the Given, is the latest in a long line of women to be doomed to sacrifice herself to the sea. Khosa will begin an involuntary twitching of her limbs which change into a dance which carries her to her death in the sea. According to tradition, this keeps the Great Wave from returning to destroy their people. You will understand that from the novel description, but trust me, it goes much much deeper.
It is incredibly difficult to speak about this book without leading into spoilers. There is so much at work. There is tradition and myth, scholars and warriors, royals and milk maids, politics and romance, betrayal and hope. And death. Lots of death. It is an island with many different people, none of home seem to like each other and who are fighting for land and demanding that the Given make her way to the sea soon as the waters are rising. The constant throughout all of the people of their land is that the sea is to be feared, and life sacrifices must be made for the greater good.
The world building is solid. The sea is worrisome at best and utterly terrifying at its worst, and it will stick with me whenever I go for a walk on the beach. I loved all of the characters. Even the villainous ones. So while the title is "Given to the Sea" and Khosa is the Given, the story isn't ONLY about her. This is the part that took me a few chapters to understand, even as the point of view repeatedly shifted. In truth, she was not even my favorite character for many of the pages, but like many of those around her, you can't help but be drawn in by her fate and her acceptance of that doom.
Given to the Sea is a whole new myth creation, full of intrigue and devastation. I found myself full of hope, only to have that hope dashed away time and again as the mounting tension of the people of Stille were equally matched by the threatening sea and the secret army marching against them. The twists and turns churn like the ocean itself, and are both unexpected and expected. I was completely absorbed the words and histories. Highly recommended to those who love mythology, adventure and a bit of magic.
And fingers crossed for a second book. Please?