Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Given to the Sea

Mindy McGinnis

Given to the Sea is a romantic and gripping fantasy with epic scope and masterful worldbuilding. 

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Kings and Queens rise and fall, loyalties collide, and romance blooms in a world where the sea is rising—and cannot be escaped.

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dancean uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy—she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra—fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before—are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land—and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

Praise for Given to the Sea:
"Star-crossed love is at the heart of this darkly vivid tale, woven with hypnotic prose and captivatingly intense characters [. . .] Readers will be hypnotized by their relationships as well as the allure of the created world in this first book of the Given duet."—Romantic Times

"[T]his book isn't just about love triangles (or squares): themes of duty and fate are thickly woven into the fabric of this tale as each character grapples with balancing moral obligation against desire."—Kirkus Reviews

"Four neatly interlocking narratives build a riveting story about destiny [. . .] There’s plenty of gore, romance, plot twists, and cliff-hangers, but readers will also find thoughtful challenges to racism, misogyny, and cruelty—plus a strong feminist element too."—Booklist

"Readers willing to look at the larger ensemble cast, the characters’ connections, and the subsequent political machinations may appreciate the world building and the disturbing but satisfying ending."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Advance Galley Reviews

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.

Beautiful Writing 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! World Building! 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! Dark Realism 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?


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