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352 pages, Hardcover
First published April 11, 2017
Her eyes, skin, hair—everything that has always been Dara—comes together in a burning moment in which I want her so badly I would take her there on the blood-slicked grass, among the dead, with her brother watching.Like, ew.
*ARC of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher.*
Actual rating: 1.5 stars
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 is the 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 the fantasy genre. But 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 royal 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 as to why things are 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 everyone is obsessing over war and Given, because of unknown reasons.
The most disturbing thing, though, is how terribly women are treated in that world. I get that the author was trying to show us how brutal the world our heroine lives in, I get that women are treated poorly there... No, actually, I don't get why women are poorly treated there? One person can take so much as reading on every page about everyone's sex life and desires and how the Given must choose a male specimen to impregnate her before she "goes" to the sea. The "suitors" wouldn't stop listing how many 'bed' skills they have, how they will make it good for the Given, and how other girls were impregnated from the first time. You are a very fertile lad, yay to you, this is how many f***s I give about your skills:
Moreover, look at the quote below:
Her eyes, skin,
hair—everything that has always been Dara—comes together in
a burning moment in which I want her so badly I would take her
there on the blood-slicked grass, among the dead, with her brother
This is the moment when our hero Vincent realizes he likes his childhood friend Dara, a lot. Just no, dude, no girl would like to be an object of such fascination.
Don't snort yet, my friends, more fun is to come! After 200 pages everyone suddenly fell in insta-love with everyone. Hello, love square, or whatever monstrous figure you are:
Dara loves Vincent, Vincent loves Dara (hence the quote above), but he loves Khosa more.
Khosa loves Vincent but she loves Donil's touch more.
Donil loves Khosa and no one else.
Pleeeease, why are you doing this to me, book *bangs her head on the wall*
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 special snowflake Khosa found one sexy man she can touch and enjoy it. Of course, it's Donil, the love interest #2. All you need is love, Khosa, love will save the day. I am so tired of that trope, I can't even.
>> Intriguing concept, but poor execution killed this book for me. Boring, cliched, underdeveloped, lacks charter-development and thoroughly cringe-worthy when it comes to treatment of women. I can't find one reason for recommending this book.
“A good person does not necessarily make a good king.”
“The smell hit me, and I gag. To my right, my father does the same, though he hides it better. A few of the court ladies swoon; one of them vomits into her lap and then tidily closes her knees so that the skirts pocket the mess.”