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Given Duet #1

Given to the Sea

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Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published April 11, 2017

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About the author

Mindy McGinnis

23 books3,740 followers


Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning novelist who writes across multiple genres, including post-apocalyptic, historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy.

While her settings may change, you can always count on Mindy’s books to deliver grit, truth, and an unflinching look at humanity and the world around us.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 511 reviews
April 12, 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.

Let me clarify the quote above. It is spoken by a "prince" (more on the quotation marks later), referring to his adopted sister and her twin brother, who is, obviously, his adopted brother also. Double ew.

This was a pretty awful book. I can't even make fun of it or enjoy it for being entertainingly bad. It was just plain bad. There's like, a love square? love star? I don't even know how to explain it

The writing is lackluster, the characters lifeless, the setting confusing and poorly explained when it was explained at all, and at least two of the narrators (there are four) were pointless, and if there was a plot, well, you could have fooled me.

This story is about Khosa, a girl whose single mission in life is to ~~aaaah~~~ dance and be given to the sea in exchange for the sea not rising up and eating everyone. Oh, and she needs to have a baby. Doesn't matter whose baby, just a baby girl cause the cycle of feeding the female line to the sea needs to continue. She's so beautiful. Special. But she doesn't feel emotions. She doesn't even know how to smile

;_;

Lol.

The next narrator is Vincent, a prince. Well, he's not really a prince, despite the fact that he is the son of the current prince, who in turn, is the son to the king. So he's a prince, but he can't be called a prince, because there's no name for the third in line to the throne? Huh? Someone tell poor prince Wills and Harry that they got the wrong title. He feels like is pointless. All he does is whore around and be pitied.

;_;

Lol.

And then there's Witt, who's a Lithos, and I'll be damned if I know who the fuck he is or what he does despite the fact that he's a third narrator.

And then there's Dara and her twin brother Donil who's this weird kind of magical? race that's extinct now except for them, I guess? They got like spotted skin and can talk since they were babies and they were raised to be Vincent's adopted siblings for some reason.

And Dara loves Vincent, who is attracted to the inscrutable Khosa, who is fascinated by Donil. And then there's Witt, whose purpose is to...never mind. He has no purpose.

Khosa goes on land and gets to live in Vincent's castle and dine with him and hang out with the twins, and really, I can't explain what happens for the rest of the book because pretty much nothing happens. It might have been more interesting if this weird-ass world was explained just a little bit, but it's not. It's French to me. Or rather not, because I can actually understand some French.

Oh and there's this strange obsession with impregnation.

Go rewatch The Little Mermaid or something. Don't read this book.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
April 18, 2017
DNF - 60%

I started reading Given to the Sea late Friday night. I made it through five chapters before I thought "Wait a second - what is going on? What's the story? Who are these people?" Thinking that I must be overtired, I decided to start again in the morning. But the exact same thing happened.

The first problem with this book is the writing. It has other problems too, but it takes a while to dig through the convoluted, messy narrative in order to figure out what they are. McGinnis is clearly one of those authors who never writes the same kind of book twice (I enjoyed her dystopian Not a Drop to Drink and dark contemporary The Female of the Species, but not so much her historical thriller A Madness So Discreet) and this one really did not work for me.

I'm not exaggerating when I say it is really hard to follow. The book is split into four POVs, which is arguably almost always too many, and I can't say I enjoyed any of them. As well as four perspectives, the author drops us into this weirdass world without giving us any background/world knowledge, making it even more confusing. We started off on the wrong foot - I was never pulled into the world - and so my lack of investment meant I felt constantly distanced from the story.

And what is the story? I’m reading all this stuff about tides and dancing, and some war, and I had a really hard time following what was going on. Why does Khosa have to sacrifice herself to the sea? Why is she so special? Why is Vincent such a creep? Maybe it was just my lack of interest… but I couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t make sense of the conflicts or world-building… wait, was there any world-building? I'm not even sure.

Plus, everyone seems to be obsessed with everyone else, when they're not obsessed with Khosa's impregnation. You could call it a love square, I suppose, but that seems far too neat for this mess. Basically, Dara is obsessed with Vincent who is obsessed with Dara but also obsessed with Khosa who is obsessed with Donal who is also obsessed with Khosa. ARRRGGGGHHHH. I don't want to read on. It's really boring and it's making my head hurt. I'll go wait for the author's This Darkness Mine instead.

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Profile Image for Nastassja.
422 reviews966 followers
March 16, 2019

*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
watching.

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.
Utter disappointment.

Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
852 reviews3,760 followers
April 23, 2017
Trigger warning if you need it: This book depicts a scene of attempted rape and examines rape culture in a fantasy setting. There is also some animal cruelty that is mentioned twice.

If you've read anything else by Mindy McGinnis, you know that she writes about social issues. I was surprised by how much of that carried over into her fantasy world. Here, she shows a flawed society full of sexism, racism, and ableism that our main characters have to face. There were some moments I didn't enjoy reading, some moments that felt very empowering, and some moments I don't know what I thought about them. (Specifically, I have conflicted feelings on how the ableism was portrayed. Like maybe it wasn't challenged enough, but this isn't something I know much about, admittedly.)

I've seen several reviews saying the world-building was bad or confusing and so I want to address that. I read a lot of fantasy and I didn't find this world confusing. Maybe you will, we're all different, but don't let that be the thing that scares you away from this book. I actually remember stopping at one point and thinking to myself: "wow, this was easy to get into for a fantasy world," so try it for yourself and see. It's a political fantasy and is a mostly non-magical world. It's more reminiscent of Game of Thrones than YA fae series, so know your preferences. Lots of adult themes. I've been saying it forever, Mindy writes adult books that masquerade as YA.

I enjoyed this world with its threatening sea and different nations with a tangled history. One thing I think would have GREATLY benefited the book though would have been the inclusion of a map! Maps not only show you the land, but they give you an easy reference for all of the nations and groups involved. There are about 4 groups involved in this story, but some of them merged and in the first half of the book I kept forgetting about one of them.

There are four POVs. Two of them are first person, and two are third person. I had a really easy time with the first person narratives (Khosa and Vincent) and blew through them. But then I would get to one of Witt's chapters and just get bored. I really did not enjoy his POV, but I do see why it was important. We needed to see his side to see how things came together. Dara was the other POV and while I enjoyed her character, her POV felt a bit useless since she's already so present in Vincent's chapters. I think hers could have been cut out, but have a hunch that something will happen in book 2 that we needed to have her POV for, though. But I admit, some of the POVs are less interesting than the others.

I mostly liked the characters. Khosa is touch averse and she also spends most of her time in a library. There is a love square involved and two of the characters that like each other grew up together as adopted siblings and I am not shipping that. Nope, sorry.

As for the writing, I've read all of Mindy's books and I wouldn't exactly call her the most lyrical writer, but the imagery in Given to the Sea was so vivid for me! I felt like I had the perfect image in my head for every single scene, and that is very rare for me! She paints the picture without flowery writing (which you may have learned from my past reviews is VERY hit-or-miss for me) so this was just a writing style that really worked for me and sucked me in.

Also, I thought the plot and story arc were solid. It could work as a standalone, but there is room for more.

Overall, I enjoyed the world and characters, but I have definitely preferred some of Mindy's other books. I will be reading the sequel though!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews838 followers
May 10, 2017
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
Book One of the Given series
Publisher: Putnam's Childrens
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 dance – an 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.

What I Liked:

I've read four of McGinnis's books (this one being the fourth), and it's a shame to say that I really haven't enjoyed anything I've read. On the one hand, all of her books have been very well-written and so unique. On the other hand, all of her books (that I've read) have not been for me. And therein lies the distinction - her books just don't seem to be for me. I thought I'd give her books another shot because Given to the Sea is her first fantasy novel, and fantasy is my favorite genre. But not even my love of fantasy could save me.

This book is told in four different points-of-view, though there are arguably five protagonists. Vincent is the prince of Stille and third in line for the throne. He doesn't want to become king, but he is destined to claim the throne in the future. Khosa is the Given, the female child who has been groomed since birth to choose a mate, bear a child, and then sacrifice herself to the Sea, to keep the sea calm and restful. Dara and Donil are the last Indiri, a race that is magical and ancient. They are adopted royal children, and they grew up with Vincent like brothers and sister. And finally, Witt, the Lithos, deadly leader of the Pietra. The Pietra rise against Stille, and look to destroy them as they also destroyed the Indiri. Strange events are occurring - the Given washes up on the shores of Stille, but she is not pregnant nor did she have a child. The sea levels are rising, though it may not be due to the lack of Given. And the Pietra are coming for the people of Stille, who are wholly unprepared for war.

If there is one thing that I can say McGinnis does consistently well, it is her world-building. Every book of hers that I have read has had a very well-constructed world and setting. Her books are so unique because of the varying worlds she has created. This world, with Stille and Pietra and a vast, unpredictable sea, is strange and entirely its own. McGinnis has written a very strong fantasy world, one that is dangerous and rigid and unforgiving.

I didn't love all of the characters, and there were some that I didn't care about, or flat-out hated. But I really liked and connected with Vincent from the start. He is the only surviving child of Prince Varrick, and only grandchild of the current King, who is a good man. But that King dies in this story, and Vincent's father becomes King. Vincent does not want the throne, which is evident throughout the story. I really felt for him, because he has no options. Vincent is a good man with a soft heart, though not soft enough that he wouldn't defend his mother, or the twins, or Khosa.

What else did I like about this book... I'm drawing a blank. Vincent somewhat redeemed this story for me. He was the only character I was rooting for. Not even the ending of this book, while slightly satisfying on the surface, could change my opinion of the book.

What I Did Not Like:

This book was a bit of a mess (for me). The romance, the characters, the plot, the treatment of women... there were a lot of things that just didn't sit well with me.

I'll start by going through the other four protagonists that I didn't talk about. I already said how I liked Vincent. But I didn't really care for the other four (or just didn't like them). For example, Witt, the Lithos. I didn't hate him or dislike him - I just didn't feel much for him. His chapters were always extremely short (1-3 pages long) and not very interesting. I bet I would have liked him more if his chapters were longer and he had more action in his life.

Next, Khosa. I didn't dislike Khosa, but I also didn't like her. She is a weak, spineless girl who has always accepted her fate as the Given. She knows no better than to accept the fact that she must choose a man, have sex with him until she gets pregnant, give birth, and then throw herself into the sea to die. Barbaric, right? Khosa never fights this, not until towards the end of the book. So I didn't really care for her. The thing that made me dislike her was the romance. It would appear that she doesn't like to be touched by anyone - any touch brings her physical revulsion. But not Donil's touch - Donil is the male Indiri twin, and his magic is all about life (think: sex). So after Donil touch's Khosa hand for the first time, all she can think about is his potent touch. Buuuuut, she is in love with Vincent. She can't stomach Vincent's touch, but it would appear that she loves Vincent.

I'll get to that in a second. The fourth character is Donil, and I didn't like him. In fact, he was probably my least favorite character. Yes, partly because I didn't want him with Khosa. Yes, because I see him as the "other leg" of the love triangle. But mostly because I find him sleazy and his actions and words towards women make me uncomfortable. He flirts with all of the girls, and his magic calls to girls (life = sex, remember?). So even though they are willing, it's a subconscious call that he has, that makes them want to have flirt and have sex with him. That bothers me a lot. And yes, you could say that he can't help his power. I still don't like how he wields it. I still don't like him. He claims he would never let a woman come between him and Vincent, and yet, he lets it happen.

And finally, Dara. I almost felt bad for Dara. She's been in love with Vincent, and he's never been in love with her. Until one day, her magical power leaks a little, and it's like a flip switches in Vincent, and he sees her in this brand-new (and very sexual) light. But that pretty much disappears, because Vincent is pretty smitten with Khosa.

Because who isn't, at this point? Literally everyone wants in this girl's vagina. I kid you not. It's kind of disconcerting, and disgusting. But I'll get to the treatment of women.

Back to Dara. I almost felt bad for her because she has to deal with unrequited love. But Dara is so annoying too. Because Vincent doesn't love her, she goes around acting like the world owes her something. She isn't a good person, and I would never want Vincent to end up with her. She seems selfish and cruel, and as kickbutt and tough as she is, I can't root for her.

You can probably tell by now, but the romance is so frustrating. It's this weird love triangle/cycle thing. Let me break it down for you:

Vincent loves Khosa, but his touch repulses her. Khosa seems to love Vincent but his touch repulses her. Khosa is very physically attracted to Donil, and it's possibly that she feels affection for him. His touch is the only touch she can bear (because again, his magical abilities are rooted in "life", which is rooted in sex). Donil is attracted to Khosa, and I'm assuming he has feelings for her. Dara has feelings for Vincent. Vincent has never had feelings for Dara not has he ever been attracted to her, until this one random moment in the book.

Confusing, right? I hate confusing romances. I hate messy attractions and broken hearts. I hate seeing two men who are like brothers fight over a woman. They LITERALLY fight over Khosa at one point. They literally fight over Dara at one point (not in the same way as Khosa though - Donil is looking out for his sister, and Vincent is not happy with Donil). I don't enjoy books love triangles, and so this love... cycle is an actually nightmare for me.

I will say, believe it or not, that no one has sex with anyone, in this book. Khosa kisses Donil once. That's pretty much all of the sexual action that happens in this book, which is funny because the characters do a lot of fighting over each other. Sex is clearly on all of their minds, though no sex actually happens.

The treatment of women - ugh, this world is frightfully patriarchal and it seems like there are no women's rights. Now, here me out: this is obviously intentional and McGinnis is showing us a world with retracted women's rights. I get it. It still disgusts me. Men in this book talk about having sex with an unwilling female (i.e. rape), or their sexual encounters, or putting a seed in Khosa, and it really set my teeth on edge (that's putting it mildly). Vincent's father is the most unfaithful man to ever exist, and Vincent's mother is naively still hoping that he'll come around and love her. And then there is Khosa, who probably enjoys being bounced between Vincent and Donil, in terms of their affections, but has no real power. This book made me want to scream!

But again, I'm sure this is very intentional (all of the negative treatment of women's rights). It still makes me mad though.

Basically, I think the horrible romance is what tipped the scales and made me rate this book down. I hate messy romances, I hate love triangles, and I really hate whatever is going on in this book, in terms of the romance. It's weird and pisses me off a little.

The ending! Was! Terrible! I can't say why, but I'm furious. It's hastily done, and it ruins the romance further, and I'm just beyond frustrated with the book at this point. Not enough to go all the way to one star (though I'm thinking...), but definitely enough to consider expelling this one from memory.

In general, the story wasn't great, romance aside. Two countries are going to war - great! There wasn't anything super original about the story, if you take away the part about the Given and the rising seas. Given how romance-driven this story was, part of me isn't surprised. But then, I would have rather read a much less romance-driven book than dealt with the irritating romance that was presented.

Would I Recommend It:

I hate to say it, but I don't recommend this book. It's a really gritty fantasy novel, and if I wanted to read a gritty fantasy novel, I'd dig out an adult fantasy novel written by a middle-aged man who seems to think murder, rape, torture, and mutilation are good things to have in fantasy stories. Well, not the type of fantasy stories I like to read. This is a frustrating, irritating, and confusing fantasy story. There aren't a ton of redeeming qualities, besides the very strong world-building and the one really likable protagonist (out of five though? That's sad). Definitely do not read this book if you like linear, obvious romances. Don't read this book if you want a happy ending. Don't read this book if you a story with a clear issue or journey. Don't read this book if you want action or adventure or a plot that moves at a healthy pace. (I starting skimming at certain points.)

Rating:

2 stars. I wanted to love this book so badly, and I got so invested in wanting to love it so badly, which is why, when I finished it and didn't love it, it hurts so much that I'm giving it 2 stars. I almost wish I had cared less about loving this book, because then I might have given it 3 stars and moved on. But this book wasn't "meh", it was painful and frustrating at times; therefore, 2 stars it is. Will I read the sequel? I don't know - I have a feeling I'll be disappointed in any of McGinnis's books, given my track record. I think I need to accept the fact that her books just aren't for me.



Post-read thoughts:

2.5 stars. Maybe 3 stars? Rounding down for now. This was not my cup of tea, sadly.

It's very different from McGinnis's other books, and in some ways, that is a good thing. But I think I wanted to love this book so badly, and I got so invested in wanting to love it so badly, which is why, when I finished it and didn't love it, it hurts so much that I'm giving it 2 stars. If that makes sense? If I had cared less about the book before reading it, I might have given it a less harsh rating upon finishing it, because I wouldn't have cared as much. But I really, really wanted to love this book.

And I didn't. And why I didn't love it hurts a little (a lot). So... 2.5 stars. 2 stars. Yeah, I think I'll stick with that rating.



Pre-read:

Okie. I'll bite. I haven't really enjoyed any of McGinnis's previous books (I've read of them), but maybe this one will be different.
Profile Image for Cinda.
Author 28 books11k followers
July 26, 2016
Prepare to dive into a terrifying world where the hungry sea demands human sacrifice and the people are willing to comply—by sacrificing somebody else. The story centers on Khosa, a girl whose sole job is to breed and produce a daughter before she dances into the sea, assuring the survival of those left on dry land. Awkwardly, Khosa seems disinclined to deliver.

McGinnis delivers a tangle of fantasy, love and politics, leavened with veins of dark humor and elements of sly social commentary.

I’ll never walk along the beach again without looking over my shoulder.
Profile Image for Vivianne.
333 reviews65 followers
August 13, 2017
DNF (on page 63)!
“A good person does not necessarily make a good king.”


Spoiler free review!

So this was my first Fairyloot book, April 2017. And unfortunately it wasn’t very successful.

Well I tried. Several times even. But I just have to give this up, it’s just not for me.

The concept was interesting but I don’t think that I would have bought this book on my own. I didn’t like the story of Kosha, the fact that she is solely born to have sex, birth a daughter and die had me really in conflict with my morels. And for everyone to just be okay with her faith? The fact that the sea had some kind of special power of drawing girls (and let them do this weird dance), needing sacrificing otherwise it would rebel had me a little hm.. not sure I will like this. And yeah I’m so sorry to say this but I hated it.

The beginning of this book was just awful. The characters needed way more introduction. I was quite confused who was what and lived where and was from what clan. The language used didn’t really draw me in and the concept was kind of mehh. But it was interesting of some sorts, some terms really got me fascinated about the world and that made me continue reading, at least till page 63…

Generally I’m a big fan of short chapters. But here it just didn’t work. There are four main characters, that get like 3-5 pages in turn and then another character is already swooped in and after that those had like a short introduction, another chapter of another character is already started. I didn’t have time to figure out their personality or to connect with them. And I really need that to understand and like a story. When I’m on 20% of a book I want to at least have an idea of what an character is like.

The way the chapters flow into each other was not smooth enough. I want it to be fluent, solid and logical, and that was not the case here. For example in the beginning this feast is thrown for the Given, that’s told from Khosa’s POV for like 4 pages. Then the sister of Vincent walks in and we switch to Vincent’s POV for like 5 pages, but before the scene picks up again there are first a few pages dedicated about what Vincent thinks of Khosa. So after this we finally pick up (only for one page) and Dara walks in and speaks but then we already switch to Dara’s POV and the scene is over. AHHHHH that’s so frustrating to read. All these different opinions and views make the story are so unclear and illogical. It’s just a mess… I didn’t get anything from that scene because there are so many unnecessary words and opinions. It’s not necessary to tell one scene from 3 POV’s.


But something that really put me off in this book was the writing style. I’ve never read such an awful sentence composition in a book. There are lines in here that I read 10 times and still don’t understand. It was like a try at old English with a sparkle of self-fabricated slang. And it just didn’t work. But also some sentences are super weird that I’m like who in their right mind would come up with this.. I will give you an example of this:

“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.”


Like what?! WHAT THE HELL!? Is this just me or would no one ever do this in the whole damn world? That’s the most nasty thing ever. Is she just going to sit there like that the rest of the evening? And there were literally so much more things like this, that I had question marks with.

Another writing style thing; it was just not descriptive enough, and normally I really like that but when you introduce this whole fantasy world to me it needs some words about the surrounding. The world building was just not existing in the first 63 pages and a story like this REALLY needs that. I have no idea how Stille looks, no idea if it’s an Island or a coast place, it was a kingdom right? So why isn’t there spoken of different cities or even of cities? What kind of creatures do live there? How many people? Why are the pitrans enemies? Is there a lot of beach or forest? But I also had no idea how the main characters looked and that I hated most.

Plot wise it was even more a mess. It started to quick, like I noted before it needed more character introduction and more world building. The second chapter of Kosha (so page 15) hell already broke lose. Well I can say that but I actually had no idea what was happening?! It was just so strange and illogical and weird. Half the freaking time I had no clue what was going on and what someone’s motivation was.

So after several tries I just have to give up on Given to the Sea. Maybe I will give this book a second change in the future, so I will also put it on my ‘setting aside for now’ shelve for now.
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews186 followers
October 30, 2016
4.5?

Started strong, lagged a little in the middle, and finished strong. One of the best secondary world YA fantasy novels I've read in last year!

Longer review to come! Thanks to Penguin Teen for the review copy!
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 23 books8,940 followers
Read
August 27, 2020
Extremely creative. I love the different races and peoples of these kingdoms and the complicated politics of this society. I feel like we've just barely scratched the surface of what the Given is and can't wait to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews954 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-so-bad-it-hurts'
April 7, 2015
MINDY MCGINNIS WRITING A FANTASY YA SERIES, YES.
Profile Image for Jade Ratley.
155 reviews2,859 followers
July 22, 2017
Not worth the time of day. This was a pain to get through, I wanted to DNF so many times, but I needed to finish just to justify my strong feelings against this book.
I felt nothing. The characters were nothing, the world nothing. I had no emotion in this read at all.
Do we want to get started on the love octagon? Yeah, not a triangle, so much worse. I can't even describe the frustration at how poorly it was executed.
Big thumbs down from me. Don't bother.
Profile Image for Kate Quinn.
Author 53 books553 followers
September 13, 2016
This is a terrifically inventive fantasy novel - unlike anything I've ever read before. The harsh world these characters live in is totally believable and utterly captivating, while the characters (with the novel being told from several different POVs) are fully realized.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,197 reviews465 followers
June 14, 2020
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

Khosa was born for one purpose, to be given to the sea as a sacrifice. The sacrifice is meant to be impregnated before she is given, to calm the seas to stop it from destroying the human Kingdom with its waves. Khosa is touch averse, making it difficult for her to fulfill her duties as the Given. The sea calls to her, but she can not go until she breeds a daughter. She is taken to the palace, where she meets Vincent, the prince and his adoptive twin siblings Dara and Donil. While Khosa must choose a mate, a war is brewing between the people of Stille and Pietra.

This was very mediocre in my opinion. I didn't care much for an of the characters or what happened to them. There's also a love square in this and its honestly just very confusing...and kind of gross because it involves adopted siblings and I'm just not here for it. There were four POVs, Khosa, Vincent, Dara and Witt. It seemed a bit unnecessary to have POVs from Witt and Dara. They were both boring and didn't add much to the story. Donil creeped me out, he has a magic that basically calls to women and makes them want him... so even though they go willingly... you have to wonder. The treatment of women in general in this book, which was intentional, but I didn't like it.
Profile Image for Zaide.
461 reviews15 followers
May 9, 2017
Actual rating – 2.5 stars

Given to the Sea had a lot of potential but for me personally, it fell short of delivering on that.

The author has built an entirely new world for this story, and while it is impressive and very well thought out, there is a lack of description and actual in-story world-building. As a reader you are essentially just thrown into this world with very little explanation of what the terms used mean and how the world works. I found it to be a little too disjointed. I couldn't fully immerse myself into the story because I couldn't picture the world properly or understand how it all works and how the different lands and races interlocked.

There are a lot of unexplained things and unanswered questions from the onset and though many of these do get answered, it isn't until much later in the book. I'm not talking about mysteries connected to the story here, I'm talking about simple details related to the world they live in. For example, in Witt’s first chapter (page 11) he explains how he sent his mother and young brothers off to their deaths in boats to the sea, yet we’re not told why. I'm expected to understand his struggle and why it is required of a man in his position, yet I'm given no explanation? I have to wait until much later in the book (around page 191) to learn that it is those of his kind who ‘can no longer be of use to their people’ who are sent willingly to die at sea. Although I now know why it happens, so many chapters have passed that I no longer care and it's not relevant anymore. Why didn't the author just explain that back on page 11 when it was first mentioned?

There are also a load of questions left unanswered. We learn straight away that the Given must go to the sea to appease it and prevent it from destroying the lands of Stille as it did some time ago (exactly how long isn't explained), and yet it’s never explained why. I mean, what does the sea care about a city? What were the motives for it destroying it and starting this strange ‘Given’ tradition in the first place? And what exactly does the sea gain from the sacrifice of this woman? The whole concept made literally no sense to me and the author didn't do much to explain.

My next gripe was the characters. We have four POV’s to follow, which is fine, I don't mind multiple POV’s if it’s done well (one of my favourite books – Six of Crows – has like six POV’s in it and it works fantastically), but I wasn't a huge fan of it here. I didn't really feel like the characters were strong enough to all have their own POV. Khosa was bland and devoid of personality. The only interesting thing about her was the issue with her being repulsed by touch (and even that had a boring reason behind it). Vincent was naïve and boring. I literally can't even remember if his age is mentioned but his thoughts and actions make me think he’s really young. He was just so…dull. Not an ounce of charm or wit to be found. Next up was Witt, where do I even start with him? He was easily the worst character. I just didn't even see the point in his POV. He seemed almost entirely devoid of feeling or independent thought. He’s just mindlessly following the traditions of his people and that made for pretty dull reading. Lastly we have Dara. Thank god for Dara. She is the shining light in this book. Fierce, brave, skilled, she was a jolt of colour among an otherwise bland cast and she easily suffers the most in the book.

I have to talk a little about the romance in this book too. There was far too much of it for my liking and I'm not even sure how to describe it, love triangle doesn't seem right, love square maybe?
We have Dara who loves Vincent (but that's forbidden because he’s a prince and she’s an Indiri, and she wants to breed with her own kind instead anyway…), Vincent loves Khosa (but that's also forbidden because Khosa is destined for death once she has a daughter), Khosa wants Donil (but that won't work because Dara won't allow a child with Indiri blood be sacrificed to the sea in the future) and then we have Donal – who I think does want Khosa but not enough to condemn her to death by impregnating her? Thank god Witt isn't allowed partners because I couldn't take any more. Worst of all this is that Vincent knows Khosa cares for Donil (and he for her) and yet, despite that Donil is a man who he has grown up with as a brother, he’s more than willing to come between them and try to keep them apart . There's so much romance and jealousy going on that it kind of detracted from the plot.

The plot was pretty basic under all this, Khosa needs to get pregnant before she can give herself to the sea and Witt is planning on invading Stille and killing everyone - that's it in a nutshell.
It builds up to this potentially huge battle at the end where either Vincent and the Stille, or Witt and the Pietra will fall but when the end finally came it was such a massive disappointment. The most anticlimactic ending I've read since the almost-battle at the end of Twilight! I won't say nothing happened, but it was as good as.

The ending killed this for me. I highly doubt I will be reading the sequel unless I see it extremely cheap somewhere.

As I said initially, a lot of potential and some interesting ideas but overall Given to the Sea was a huge let down for me. I rated it at 2.5 stars but didn't feel that it deserved to be rounded up, so have rounded down to 2 stars.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,408 reviews256 followers
April 29, 2017
Khosa has been born to be given to the sea, as was her mother and her mother's mother and beyond, as a sacrifice to appease the brutal sea and prevent another wave like the one that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille hundreds of years ago. However, before she fulfills her purpose she must give birth to an heir to follow in her footsteps in order to secure the kingdom's safety for generations to come. Unfortunately, Khosa can't withstand the touch of anyone except an Indiri. Siblings Dara and Donil are the last surviving Indiri, a magical people of the earth with special abilities, including the ability to see and relive the memories of their ancestors. The Pietra, led by Witt, slaughtered the rest of the Indiri several years ago and now they're coming to claim Stille for the survival of their own people. Vincent will one day inherit the Kingdom of Stille. His father, the prince, will do anything to ensure that Khosa does her duty to the Stillean people as their Given. Vincent knows he must do whatever it takes to make sure the kingdom prospers, but the more he actually gets to know this Given personally, the more he begins to question the traditions of his kingdom.

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis was easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and it really delivers on so many fronts. The author has written in multiple YA genres, but this is her first fantasy novel which is also the first of a duet. McGinnis has quickly become one of my favorite authors, so of course I'm glad to say that her first foray into fantasy really worked for me. In this novel, her world-building, her character development, and tackling of social issues stood out in particular to me. However, I will warn you right off the bat that while quite a bit happens I wouldn't consider this an action-packed book. Events travel at a slower pace here than in most YA fantasy, but it is definitely worth sticking around to see how everything comes to a head.

For me, the success of a second world fantasy often hinges on the author's world-building skills. The world of the Kingdom of Stille and its surroundings, from a vengeful sea to an unfriendly neighbor bent on war, is uniquely imagined and designed. Stille has a destructive history that they have to prevent from coming to pass again and again each generation. Even if that means a girl must be born and raised specifically to sacrifice to that vengeful sea. The world of the novel is a mostly non-magical one that focuses on the political machinations of those who have power, and to great effect. I do believe, however, that the book could definitely benefit from the inclusion of a map in order to better see the lay of the land and the sea.

Turning to our cast of characters, this story is told from four alternating perspectives - two in first person and the other two in third. Our first person POVs are Khosa, the Given, and Vincent, the grandson of the King and one day heir to the throne of Stille, while our third person POVs are Dara, one of the last two surviving Indiri, and Witt, the cold-blooded warlord and leader of Pietra. Of these four, I will say that I found myself most interested in Vincent's and Dara's chapters and they quickly became my two favorites of the novel. As much as I enjoyed getting to know Khosa and explore issues of personal and political autonomy in terms of her life and future, she is quite bland, a little too much so even though I know that that's how her character has been raised - to do her duty for her kingdom regardless of her own personal wants and needs. I will admit that it is great when we see her begin question her future and the horror and revulsion she feels at what she knows that the future holds for her. Anyway, while all perspectives are handled well I wouldn't say all of them are absolutely necessary, since the characters overlap quite a bit - Dara's, in particular, as her and Vincent's story are very close. Regardless of the necessity of her chapters, though, Dara quickly became a favorite and made me wish that Donil, her twin, also had POV chapters.

Overall, Mindy McGinnis's Given to the Sea is a great first foray into fantasy. If you're a fan of this author's work, this first in a two-part series is a must read. If you are also interested in mostly non-magical political fantasy that doesn't travel at a breakneck pace, but features excellent world-building and character development, this novel may be your cup of tea. I know I'm certainly looking forward to the second part of this duet and McGinnis's upcoming release, This Darkness Mine.
Profile Image for Morgan.
1,675 reviews74 followers
August 8, 2017
DNF

Nope.

Did not take long to come to the conclusion that this was just a huge nope for me personally. Was glad though to see that others had very similar reactions for similar reasons.

I'm very disappointed. My first Mindy McGinnis book was Not a Drop to Drink and that was 3 stars. My second was A Madness So Discreet which I LOVED. (5 stars)

Third time was not the charm, because I just can't make myself do this.



A whole string of generations of women from one family who are all compelled to drown themselves AFTER they've been forced to have a daughter who will continue this tradition. Yes, forced. At the very start she talks about how she knows what had happened to her mother and what was in store for her before she "dances" into the sea to die. Her "teachers" are drilling her on her expressions. It seems like from another chapter with a different character that this is to make it look like they ENJOY dying in this way. (When it's mentioned that they look so happy/peaceful and graceful, but then a woman mentions a brief horrified face she saw one make.)

It's just rapey and no and why and don't.

Aside from that, in the first 4 chapters we go from "I" to "I" to "she & he" to "he" for five different people, and my brain was rebelling from the lack of consistency. (And it's nothing to do with multiple characters, because I'm totally here for it in other books by a variety of authors.

Just a case of definitely not for me.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,654 reviews617 followers
July 6, 2020
It doesn't happen all that often, but I really disliked this book. And I believe I have good reason to. From the start, it was full of harmful concepts like a massive focus on racial differences, and disabled babies being thrown away to die. Furthermore, nothing about the story had me interested in what would happen, as the main character, whose only purpose in life was to have a child and then drown herself, wasn't exactly the most likeable character, nor were any of the others. This book was a massive disappointment, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Profile Image for Sandra.
378 reviews16 followers
April 20, 2017
I love Mindy McGinnis both as an author and person, but this book bored me to death. It was hard for me to keep up with the multiple POVs and to actually care about the characters. I really wish I had loved this book as its premise sounded truly interesting.
Profile Image for Rachel  (APCB Reviews).
331 reviews1,189 followers
March 8, 2017
"Given to the Sea" was a pleasant surprise, despite its being completely different from my expectations. It is a solid standalone fantasy novel, but if you're looking for a fun fantasy romp then I recommend you set this book aside for another time.

"Given to the Sea" centers on a land surrounded by a terrifying and merciless sea and the lengths the leaders will go to as they attempt to save their people. Mindy McGinnis did a wonderful job crafting the setting. The world-building was detailed and easy to follow yet left me eager to learn more about the people, the land, the culture, the creatures, and the history.

Mindy's beautiful writing has a refined elegance to it that perfectly suited this story. The writing had an archaic and proper flair that matched the customs and traditions the people in this story followed. I was engaged by this story from the very beginning, yet my interested waned near the middle as it does in most books. She did a great job balancing among four points of view, and I commend her for making each voice differentiable and keeping the story cohesive.

Unfortunately Khosa is not the most likable main character. I honestly didn't care for her, but that might have been the point. She was so bland and unfeeling by design that I couldn't connect or empathize at all. I really liked how all of the characters who had points of view were so entangled with one another in the story. Vincent is the compassionate but begrudging heir to the throne. Donil and Dara are the misfits and lasts of their race. Witt is the ruthless leader of the Pietran people with a heart he tries to hide. Each of the characters were explored to such a depth that is hard to pull off in a standalone novel. With the exception of Khosa, I really liked all of the other characters! The one thing this book did lack was humor though, I wish there had been more lighthearted moments to combat the blood and viciousness.

The plot of this book is simple yet complicates as the story unfolds. Mindy expertly weaves a tale that becomes more and more intricate with shocks coming left and right. I really had no idea where this book was going and all of my predictions were wrong. My only qualms are with the ending. It felt like such an easy way out of the predicament the characters were facing. Yet it also solved nothing. I was also left very confused by how the story ended. I would like a companion novel, novella, or anything to help clear things up!

Overall "Given to the Sea" is a great standalone fantasy novel that I highly recommend you try.
Profile Image for Danielle Zaydon.
93 reviews19 followers
August 2, 2017
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 an 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.
Profile Image for Isabella.
198 reviews72 followers
Shelved as 'maybe'
April 3, 2017
But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir.
Profile Image for Erin.
402 reviews112 followers
August 30, 2019
description

Not sure how to feel about this one. I mean I love the concept.

Khosa is the given, a girl who dances her way into the sea as a sacrifice so that the waves will not destroy her kingdom. However, she must first give birth to the next girl who will be given to the sea. The problem is she cannot stand even the slightest touch of another. Her village is destroyed and she ends up at the palace where she meets Prince Vincent and his two adopted siblings, Donil and Dara. For the first time she is attracted to someone, Donil. At the same time, Witt, the leader of a neighboring city is preparing to start a war with Khosa's people.

Overall, it was a good, but not great book. The book switches constantly from one perspective to the next and I had to keep checking the chapter heading to remember who the narrator was. It had a great concept, but I am not sure how much I liked the execution.

Spoilers >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



Okay, I hate Dara. She is kind of scary and evil, right? I mean I get her anger, but she was gonna let Khosa die. Also, she is just constantly hot headed and angry. I also don't really like Donil, so I am unhappy with the fact that Khosa prefers him. I like Vincent, but it is kind of sad that he keeps trying to keep Khosa to himself when she obviously prefers his adopted brother. It is just too convoluted for my taste. Everyone loves, but doesn't love each other. And they are sleeping with other people and flirting all the time, which makes me just feel weird.

I did like Khosa, although I found her personality to be inconsistent at times. At the beginning she couldn't really understand a lot of emotions and couldn't express them; however, then she would have a lot of situations where she would. It was as if the author forgot she wasn't really supposed to feel a lot of emotions and kept showing scenes where she didn't. I also didn't like her and Donil together because they never had and real moments where they connected. She really only seemed to like him because he was the only one she seemed okay with touching. She had a better connection with Vincent and they had more moments of actual understanding who the other person is.

I really enjoyed the fact that the sea would come over her and she would dance her way to it. I really liked that idea. Also, when the king was killed by the woman being carried to him. I did not see that coming. Very nice!

Overall, good book, but not great. Still, I want to see what ends up happening. Hopefully Dara finds someone else or dies, don't much care what happens to her and Khosa overcomes touch and loves Vincent instead. Alas, I don't think that is gonna happen.
Profile Image for Kayla.
895 reviews15 followers
July 23, 2018
****SPOILERS*****

Sooooooooo I liked the story . . . but there was A LOT I didn't like.

I don't like how it seemed Vincent forced himself on Kosa. She liked him enough to be his friend, but if she can't stand anyone's touch but Donald and Dara, none but those 2 should attempt to touch her unless to save her life. I hate that Vincent basically ignored his feelings and attraction to Dara all because a shiny new toy (Kosa - who didn't even want him that close) was in front of him. He was like a spoiled child that is used to getting his own way and throws a fit if he doesn't. Correction: Vincent is a prince, so he IS a spoiled child that is used to getting his own way and throws a fit if he doesn't *rolls eyes*. But in the ends Vincents spoiled ass is happy and Kosa indifferent. Ugh!

I hate that Vincent doesn't think to be more with Dara only because of her race. Why can't he be the example. I understand why Dara is so angry but hate that she uses her anger as a crutch. I hate that she sought to be rid of Kosa despite the consequences. Like, she just didn't think. She let her anger rule her. I hate that she was propositioned by Vincents' DISGUSTING father. And I hate that in the end she is still alone and still pining for Vincent (and his spoiled ass).

I hate that Donald denied Kosa because of Dara. Dara was like a pro black female who takes being pro black too damn far. Donald wanted Kosa just as much as she wanted him. It seems wrong that they aren't allowed to be together in the end.

I know it's hard to tell but I did like this book . . . I just feel so strongly about everything that went wrong in the story.
Profile Image for Hannah.
479 reviews35 followers
July 8, 2017
I am so sad

This was so disappointing I don't even think I can explain it. I've been looking forward to reading Mindy McGinnis for so long and I thought this sounded amazing but it's not executed particularly well at all.

To be fair, I had misunderstood the premise of this and thought it would be like a political fight in a tower to get away from the rising sea- how it looks on the cover (which frankly is a better idea!) so when it wasn't that I was immediately disappointed. I didn't like the characters and although I liked the basic plot and premise, it just wasn't very exciting for me. Also this book is further evidence that short chapters are the way forward, they really gave me the push I needed for 'just a few more pages' and I'm convinced that helped me get through this book.

This hasn't put me off McGinnis- I own and am still excited for A Madness So Discreet and am desperate to buy The Female of the Species but I think I may stay away from her fantasy from now on.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
July 21, 2017
It's Mindy McGinnis, so duh, I wanted to read it. But as with all her books, I knew going into this one not to expect a happy ending, and so I've put off reading it. Thus, the audiobook from the library, which probably helped since there are so many freaking points of view. I'm loathe to actually read a book when there's more than two perspectives and this one had plenty more than that. The one I really could have done without was Witt's. I understand that what was happening with the Pietrans was important to the story overall, but his POV took me out of the story more than it helped add to it. This book was different from the author's previous work, but it was oddly similar, if that makes any sense. The overall mood was similar, I guess. And I still feel the same way I always do after a McGinnis book: like I've read something good but I'm in need of some comfort because it's just so bleak.
Profile Image for Cassandra (Thebookishcrypt).
565 reviews51 followers
April 3, 2018
*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I've never read anything by Mindy before this but I have to say that this is one of the most unique duets I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The premise, the world, the characters, the romance... they all fascinated me to no end. They brought fresh experiences to the table and I was awestruck from the very first page.
The fact that this book followed 5 different point of views didn't even daunt me. I couldn't even tell you which one was my favorite point of view in this novel. I loved them all so much and they each captured my attention. They have yet to let go but it's not like I want them to.
We have our main character, Khosa, who has known her entire life that she would one day dance into the sea, to her death, after bearing a child who will one day do the same. We meet her as she is trying to learn how to mimic emotions through facial expressions. It was pretty interesting being inside of her head when she struggled so much to show any emotion externally. I really loved that we could all connect to her through her love for the written word as well.
Then we have Vincent, the prince who is third in line to become King, something he is absolutely dreading to become. I found myself sympathizing with him a lot. He set himself apart with the fact that he didn't act like any other royal I've ever read about. He was genuine and it showed through his every action.
There's Dara & Donil who are twins and the last two of their kind, the Indiri, who were adopted by Vincent's mother. They both have amazing powers that are completely opposite of each other. I won't mention what they are so it can come as a surprise to you guys as it did to me. These two reminded me so much of the dynamic between my brother and me. I couldn't help but relate to Dara since I feel like my temper matched hers. I absolutely loved these two; I just couldn't get enough of them! The banter between Dara, Donil and Vincent had to be some of my favorite moments ever.
Lastly, we have Witt, who is the leader of the Pietra, a rival people with some of the fiercest warriors who take whatever land they want, whenever they want. For a leader of such bad men, I couldn't tear my eyes away from his POV. He also set himself apart from other characters due to everything he kept hidden on the inside. This book really drove home the quote 'don't judge a book by its cover' or at least, in this case, a person. If I didn't get the honor to read these characters' every thought, my opinion of them would be a bit different.
I enjoyed the dark undertone I felt through the entirety of this novel. It had me flipping through the pages without pause. The chapters were short as well so it enabled me to read this novel in less than 24 hours. Mindy has become an instant favorite and I can't wait to read more from her!
What happens when your most powerful enemy is the rising sea itself? Read this duet and find out! Everyone's world is turned upside down due to it and we are left wondering who will be left standing.
4.5 insane stars!
Profile Image for Kat.
102 reviews44 followers
May 30, 2017
This book was.. forgettable.
Profile Image for Amber.
872 reviews69 followers
April 17, 2017

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.
Profile Image for Miranda.
512 reviews117 followers
July 10, 2017
90% sex, 10% actual good content. I've read romance novels less concerned about sex than this book was.

I'm uncertain if McGinnis meant to do a study of rape culture in a fantasy setting, but if she did, Given to the Sea fails miserably.

The truly annoying part, however, is that the world is just interesting enough and the stakes are high enough to be engaging, but the rushed pay off did not make it worth sticking with 300+ pages of "omg he/she is so pretty I wanna have all the sex with them but oh no I can't because of... reasons!!!!" Seriously, this book was way too focused on what/who everyone's genitals were doing and not the fact that, holy shit, their world is literally ending.

The thing was, I would have accepted the focus on the sex/desire if any of these characters had any interactions that made me believe they saw each other as human beings and not pretty people they want to fuck. Donil is immediately attracted to Khosa, and she to him; Dara has supposedly been in love with Vincent for a while, but from the way she acts around him, you wouldn't know it. Vincent and Khosa had more development than any of the others, and yet I'm supposed to believe two interactions with Donil makes it unbearable for Khosa to consider saving her own life and running? Bull.

What a waste of a pretty solid concept.
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