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As a princess of the Yirba, Yenni is all-but-engaged to the prince of a neighboring tribe. She knows it's her duty to ensure peace for her people, but as her father's stubborn illness steadily worsens, she sets out on a sacred journey to the empire of Cresh, determined to find a way to save him at any cost, even though failure could mean the wrath of her gods and ruin for her people. One further complication? On the day she arrives at the Prevan Academy for Battle and Magical Arts, she meets an arrogant dragon-shifter named Weysh who claims she's his "Given", or destined mate. Muscular, beautiful (and completely infuriating), he's exactly the kind of distraction Yenni can't afford while her father's life hangs in the balance.

But while Yenni would like nothing more than to toss Weysh the man into the nearest river, Weysh the dragon quickly becomes a much-needed friend in the confusing northern empire. Yet when her affection for the dragon starts to transfer to the man, Yenni must decide what is more important: her duty to her tribe, or the call of her own heart.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published January 21, 2020

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About the author

Nandi Taylor

2 books129 followers
Nandi grew up devouring sci-fi and fantasy novels, and from a young age wrote books of her own. Her books are an expression of what she always wanted more of growing up—diverse protagonists in speculative settings. Common themes she writes about are growth, courage, and finding one’s place in the world.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 206 reviews
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books485 followers
Shelved as 'nah-bro'
December 26, 2019
DNF @ 27%

"She's too sensitive," Weysh concluded. "Most women are. I just have to show her I'd never hurt her. Once she realizes that, she'll come running with open arms."

look I came for dragons not men with delusions of what they deserve & why did there even HAVE to be a crap romance? Why couldn't it just be Yenni learning a new culture, struggling with the bias against her own culture, and being badass??
Profile Image for Lila.
529 reviews178 followers
February 21, 2022
My apprehension at learning this was a Wattpad book was completely unfounded.

I saw this book recommended by a Taurus. As one myself, I knew we have superior taste and just had to check it out. *hair flick*

When I saw the sticker on the book that said Watty Awards Winner, I was worried. Even though I read numerous amazing books on Wattpad, a lot of the ones that ended up being published I didn't think were good enough to be.

This is an amazing Caribbean inspired fantasy with lots of magic and dragons. I can't wait for the sequel! (Please tell me there's going to be one.)
Profile Image for Kate (BloggingwithDragons).
239 reviews67 followers
January 17, 2020
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
DNF 52%

I really wanted to like Given by Nandi Taylor. The cover for the novel is absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it sounded like a more diverse take on Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon, a book I really enjoyed! Furthermore, the summary for Given promises a grand adventure with Caribbean and West African roots with tribal princess Yenni Ajani at the helm of Given--fighting against racism, strange magics, cultures, and dragons--in a race against time to save her father from a mysterious disease known as wither rot. Imagine my surprise when I realized Given was very little like its description and was instead mainly a poorly developed romance that happened to take place in a magic academy setting with very little exposition given--pardon the pun--and absolutely zero likable characters. It was honestly a struggle for me to get past 18% of Given and it was through sheer force of will that I made it to 52%. The only saving graces in the novel for me were the systems of magic, world-building, and the interesting idea of wither rot.

“I will gain entrance to these Creshen’s academy. I’m top of my class, I speak five languages, and I am princess of the Yirba. I will not fail.”

The novel begins in the Moonrise Isles, the home of Yenni Aja-Nifemi ka Yirba, daughter of the chief-clan, making her a veritable princess of her tribe. Given hurls a ton of fantastical terms at us to breathe life into the tribe and its islands, and it might have worked, if it weren’t for the fact that as soon as we are introduced to this life and its terms, Yenni Ajani, as she prefers to be called, immediately leaves it. And sadly, everything else in Given occurs just as instantaneously, and as a result, it is difficult to determine what is happening in what feels like one giant event dump or to even care.

Author Taylor tries to set up Yenni Anaji as an intelligent, kind-hearted, and strong-willed warrior princess in very little exposition. We are given so little actual time and description to get to know the characters and the world around them that the author relies on telling us how we should actually perceive the characters . But sadly, instead of the trope the author is obviously going for of a warrior princess with a heart of gold, what she manages to create is a very privileged character who isn't very likable.

“Back home she didn’t have much use for money. If she needed something she asked her mother for it, and more often than not things were gifted to her.”

But even worse than Yenni Anaji is the man/dragon she’s supposed to fall for--Weysh. In dragon form, Weysh smells Yenni’s sent the first time and marks her as his Given, or soulmate thing that’s never really explained, but is expected to somehow understood by both the reader and foreigner Yenni Anaji, who has never actually encountered a dragon in her life. Immediately entranced by her scent and the idea of actually having a Given, Weysh literally doesn’t even bother to learn Yenni Anaji’s name or anything remotely about her. Instead, he immediately proposes marriage and informs her that she should have his dragon baby. On other occasions, he swoops down in dragon form and carries her off without her consent. How charming.

“‘Sweet,’ Weysh said patiently, ‘I’m not some breeding stud you can cajole into plowing a mare. Carmenna is not my match.’ He held her eyes with his own. ‘You are.’’

Given tells us that Weysh is actually a great guy/dragon and that he treated all of his past many female interests--the novel makes sure to emphasize how desired he is by the general female population--and his family really well. But we never see the character in any of these relationships because he unceremoniously dumps his ex, Carmenna, as soon as he smells Yenni Anaji for the first time. I find it absolutely unbelievable that Yenni Anaji could ever develop feelings for the dangerously immature Weysh, who really seems to have no redeeming qualities except that he cannot speak in dragon form.

“Weysh furrowed his brow, confused. ‘So I should simply leave her be?’
‘If that’s what she wants.’
‘But why? How would that endear me to her?
Zui threw a quick, fond glance at Harth. ‘Because respecting a woman’s wishes is one of the most seductive things a man can do.’
Weysh shook his head. It seemed incredibly counterproductive, but everything else he’d tried so far had ended in disaster.”

Given also beats readers over the head with the fact that dragons do not have any feelings for humans when in their dragon form. However, Given contradicts this at literally every turn. In fact, the very first meeting between Weysh and Yenni-Anaji, he drops out of the sky like "some overgrown demon hawk” (which is definitely not the best description of a dragon I've ever read), and unceremoniously licks her thigh because he is so overpowered by her scent and the fact that he’s found his Given. Ick. And if that weren’t bad enough, the rest of the cast of characters are all completely flat. Weysh’s dragon friends Harth and Zui are supposed to be great--patient and long suffering--I know because the author repeatedly tells me so--but they’re little more than hood ornaments on a nondriveable car.

Sadly, the dialogue of Given is no better than the painful romance or the constant telling rather than showing. There are innumerable nonsensical lines like, “We select only the fat of the meat, the best to take part in training here.” But what was worse was that literally almost every sentence that came out of Weysh’s mouth ended in “lovely.” His mother, his sister, his Given, girls on the street, were all referred to as “lovely.” I wish I had kept a running tally of how many times it was said. Given clearly could have benefited from some more editing.

Despite its issues, Given does a great job of establishing not only its magical systems and its laws, but also its lore. These were the main reasons I gave the book a full star. Author Taylor sets up believable and various magical systems--the Runelore of Yenni Ajani’s home and the more ritualistic Creshen magic. She even establishes that there is a false stereotype for Runelore users--that they sacrifice infants and animals for their craft. It was interesting to see Yenni Ajani try to learn the Creshen way of magic and how it differed from her own. I did want her to succeed at finding a cure for her father’s mysterious wither-rot disease through the use of this new magic on a superficial level, but the novel didn’t let me get to know her father well enough to evoke any real sympathy for him or for his family.

The other thing that Given does fairly well is to establish some world-building and lore. The Moonrise Islands believe in the Sha gods and have a whole strict belief system built around it that actually sets Yenni-Ajani out on her quest in the first place. The Creshen people believe in totally different gods, such as Byen, the Kindly Watcher. Wyesh tells Yenni-Anaji the story of how dragonkind came to be, after of course, laughing at Yenni-Anaji’s own beliefs.

“In the beginning, Byen, the Kindly Watcher, was at war with Movay, Mistress of Demons. She sent her hell minions to destroy the world but was defeated by Byen and his true dragons. After that Byen gave ten percent of humanity the ability to transform into a lesser version of his sacred warriors, to defend the world should Movay’s demons return.”

I thought this was really interesting lore (it actually put me to mind of a simpler version of the lore in Book Review: The Rage of Dragons ), and I wondered if it would have anything to do with the wither-rot disease in the rest of Given. But that mild curiosity and the potential shown by both the magic systems and the world-building was just not enough to get me through the rest of Given. Based on the parts of Given I managed to get through, I feel that perhaps this novel would be better suited for younger audiences, such as intermediate readers, as it is not on the same level of other young adult fantasy novels, with believable romances, realistic dialogue, and developed  characters.

My Book Review Policy
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,037 reviews3,437 followers
March 25, 2021
I finally picked this up for a video where I read books featuring dragons, if you want more detailed thoughts: https://youtu.be/DCYX-nFoZyg

NOTE: After reading some other reviews, I want to say a couple of things. 1- Weysh (the love interest) has a significant arc of growth in the book and it's clear the author intended to address how problematic toxic versions of masculinity are in relationships. I see a lot of people DNF this because of his behavior, but he does genuinely change and grow. For me it worked. 2- I suspect the people who will get along with this best are those who like adult paranormal romance AND enjoy YA fantasy/romance. Which I do.

This was such a pleasant surprise and I feel like it's really flying under the radar! Given is an older YA/New Adult fantasy romance with dragon shifters, which is very cool. It's also a nuanced, thoughtfully written story about education-related immigration that deals with culture shock, cultural and racial insensitivity, microagressions faced by people of color, and much more. Of course set in a fantasy world with a magical school. And dragons.

The hero is kind of awful when we first meet him, though I loved our heroine from the very beginning. She is strong, smart and determined. The hero starts off with a lot of patriarchal, misogynistic ideas, but he learns and grows through the course of the story and by the end I was really rooting for the couple. This is a story that centers people of color and addresses a pretty wide range of topics actually. We have coming to terms with painful family history, biracial identity, and even a nod to dealing with becoming disabled. It's also just an interesting take on a fated mate story, and I'm not sure I've seen that trope done in YA before.

I didn't know what to expect picking this up, but I ended up really loving it and hope we get a book 2! I want to know what happens next.

Content warnings include misogyny, racial slurs, racial & ethnic microagressions, violence, abduction, perhaps others.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews502 followers
April 19, 2020
April 19, 2020: Nothing can go wrong when you have dragons in a story and this book proves that. A romance that keeps you spellbound and cultural exploration that leaves you with more to understand and grasp, this fantasy can be a favourite for many.

November 15, 2019: There's dragon, there's culture, there's POC. Isn't this all I want? Super excited to read this.Thank you, Wattpad Books for the digital copy via Netgalley!
August 9, 2020
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Netgalley, and Wattpad Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.


Ugh I was just so proud of Yenni Ajani and her strength, her determination to save her father, standing up for herself against the people that were low key / high key racist to her in Creshen because of her being from the “Moonlight Isles” as they call it. I mean first they change the name of her kingdom to make it easier for them to pronounce – at least that’s what I’m assuming – the teachers think she’s dumb because she uses runes more than spells for her magic, and like UGH. It just irritates me how racist these people are! But I’m so freaking glad that she calls them out on it and she works so hard to prove that she’s not just some idiot islander.

Whoa okay I wasn’t anticipating ranting in the first paragraph but clearly I had to get that out.

“I am Yenni Aja-Nifemi ka Yirba, and you would do well to remember that!”


Yes I purposely spelled that wrong because that’s how you say it.

Okay also, I noticed that the book refers to her as Yenni, but she tells people that they should be calling her Yenni Ajani, and even then she feels weird about it because it’s so casual compared to how she is usually referred to back at home, but people butcher her name in Creshen so she had to give them a shorter one I guess. But I thought that was interesting.

Anyway, Yenni Ajani is why I love this book. Sure, Weysh is trying, but I didn’t like how pushy he was about the whole Given thing. Especially because Yenni Ajani doesn’t KNOW about the Given thing, so stop trying to push it on to her! I don’t care that she’s somehow your Given, give her time to process and don’t force her to do something she doesn’t want to do! Damn.

But then I was also sad at how his family – minus his sister – would treat him! Like, hello? That’s your family, despite his dragon. Don’t be so mean to him. I think that endeared me a bit to him, and then when he finally let Yenni Ajani breathe. It took a bit of explaining from his friends, which sucked, but then he respected her space for a bit and that helped me get on his side for a bit.

I need more stories from this world!! I need more books from Taylor! Like, I really enjoyed this one!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
June 3, 2021
I have received this ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to dive into Given but I am happy that I finally decided to do so. In it, you will meet Yenni. She is a very stubborn princess but also eager to learn about healing magic. She lives on an island with her tribe until the the day she heads off on her own adventure. It's go go to school to try and learn all that she can before she goes back home. The one thing she wasn't expecting - to be mated (sort of).

After running into a gorgeous dragon, and getting licked by him, it's safe to say that Yenni and Weysh didn't start off on good terms. He kind of manhandled her and was like you are my given. You are mine. All caveman like and Yenni was not about to sip that cup of tea.

They had very cute moments of bantering but I was secretly hoping that they would get closer. Which, they luckily did but I wanted more. Like a lot more romance. Besides that, there's hunts of betrayal that were sort of close to home. Then there's the little twists and turns that kept me completely glued to the book.

Once I got towards the end, I kind of just felt okay with the book. I think I was probably expecting more evilness from the villains. They were okay but I definitely wanted more from them. It was still a very interesting book with dragons. I can't say no to dragons people.
Profile Image for Anne (ReadEatGameRepeat).
601 reviews48 followers
April 2, 2022
This book came very very close to a 4 star but honestly the ending dragged it down. I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. I'm not a huge romance reader and while the romance bits at the start did make me roll my eyes a little I think the whole thing was developed so well I might consider reading more romance in the near future. I picked it up mostly because Dragons(which were wonderful) and also because I'm trying to read a little more widely to see if maybe I'll find a new genre to adore . Overall I enjoyed this book, for most of it I was hoovering around 4 stars, the characters were all developing nicely, there were interesting plot points developing (including the conflicts between all the characters) and probably as important as those things, I was enjoying my read. But by the end it just felt like the author was introducing new things or new aspects to the world that just didn't get the time to be developed as well and by the end there were just so many things that needed to be resolved that I felt the most important ones were just...not resolved in a way that I felt worked well for the book. Non the less it was a really fun and interesting read and I do recommend it & I'm looking forward to seeing whatever this author comes up with next! I would love to read more set in this universe.
Profile Image for Steff Fox.
1,187 reviews152 followers
May 5, 2021
| Reader Fox Blog |

What a disappointment. I couldn't get through Given by Nandi Taylor. It honestly kind of pained me to realize that this novel was going to be a DNF for me, but at about 47% I just couldn't take it anymore. To put it bluntly, if you're looking for a novel with flat supporting characters, excessive info-dumping, the author telling you how to feel about the characters yet showing nothing to validate those supposed feelings, and one of the worst ways to write pre-destined / fated relationships by having a male character ignore the rules of consent, well then, by all means, look to Taylor's Given.

For me, this book was super cringy.

really wanted to like this book. It has an absolutely gorgeous cover and began with one of the best introductions to a world that I've gotten from a book in a long time. I was immediately entranced by the creatures, the rune-lore, the magic, and the people. It was a place I wanted to learn so much more about. The story seemed meant to immerse readers in a new culture and simultaneously allow for commentary on race. Instead of expanding upon these things, though, the majority of it was all tossed out to the side in favor of the main character traveling to a more "westernized," for lack of a better term, nation to learn about their magic and culture. Oh, and to fall in love. Obviously.


Perhaps one of the most egregious things Taylor does with her novel is to tell her readers who the characters are and what they are like. We are told that the main character, Yenni Anaji, the daughter of the chief of her tribe is an intelligent, caring, and strong warrior. Yet, often I feel like we get little to actually show us these aspects of her character. Instead of caring, she was whiny. Instead of intelligent, she was ignorant and privileged.

We are told that the love interest--gag me--is amazing, considerate, immensely loved and desired by those around him, and treats all women exceptionally well. Yet, all of that is blown to smithereens as Weysh, the dragon, not only assaults Yenni Anaji upon meeting her but even after she makes it very clear she wants nothing to do with his romantic advances he continues them. Rather than doing the bare minimum of learning her name, Weysh insists that she is his "Given," or soulmate, proposes marriage, informs her she will have his child, and snatches her off the ground to fly her off all entirely without her consent.

As if that wasn't bad enough, but even his friends tell him he needs to back off. They do this, mind, not because they think his actions are abhorrent and wrong, but rather because respecting wishes is apparently seductive? And what does resident ignorer of consent Weysh do with this helpful information? He implies he thinks doing so would be dumb because he supposedly deserves her and she's supposed to belong to him because it's how destiny has always worked for dragons. He is also just so condescending toward Yenni Anaji that I found him utterly irredeemable as a person, let alone a love interest.

This guy is so toxic.

I lost track of how many times I cringed while reading this.

Honestly, I couldn't tell you whether the supporting characters ever had a chance to be decent as I don't get enough time with any of them to determine that. Unless they are somehow leading something along for the main two, they're basically non-existent. The worst example of this I have comes in the form of Weysh's girlfriend, with whom he breaks up almost immediately after meeting Yenni Anaji, kind of completely contradicting this idea that he's such a great guy to women that the author posited to us.

Oh, but don't forget that she's still there to tell Yenni Anaji how amazing Weysh is. Nevermind that he stomped all over her heart without any care. Of course, her only purpose would be to convince the woman her ex assaulted the very second he first smelled her that he's actually worth being with.


Just a word of advice to anyone looking to write "destined to be" romances: don't do it this way. It's gross, it's cringy, and it's super problematic. Consent is an extremely important aspect of a relationship, I don't care how "destined" it is. If you ignore consent, if you let your characters ignore consent, it's a serious problem.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

| Reader Fox Links |
Profile Image for Kate.
164 reviews21 followers
February 4, 2020
Thanks so much to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

my rating: 2.0 stars

Given follows Yenni, the princess of the Moonrise Islands, as she goes to school in Cresh as part of a ritual journey before she becomes queen. During her time in Cresh, she desperately tries to find a cure for her ill father. This being her main motivation throughout the story. While at Cresh, she meets Weysh, a dragon kind, and finds out she is his "Given," in other words, mate.

I desperately wanted to like this story. The premise was good and it could have played out well if it wasn't ruined by the male protagonist. I felt Weysh, the main male protaganist, was needy, annoying and unnecessary. The romance was based on insta-love (which I did not like) causing Weysh to spend the entire story pining after Yenni and making statements of love during every interaction. The author then made the mistake of Yenni being reluctant at first, instantly changing her mind and being all in after 5 pages. After their acceptance of each other, Weysh and Yenni had a high school type relationship which I found annoying being that they are suppose to be new adults. This shut the door on the romance for me. I found it immature and annoying.

The story descriptors were amazing and this is one of the reason I held on to the end of the book. The world building was average which I was ok with and was obviously inspired by Harry Potter and the idea of a magical school. The secondary characters added to the story well and played necessary parts in the plot. Yenni, as a female protagonist was a strong female lead and moved the plot along well.

However, there were some things in the plot I did not like. First, the addition of Noriago as a villain was unnecessary. It was unclear throughout the entire story why he hated Weysh. It felt like the author unnecessarily added him because she needed to cause issues for Weysh. Also, the storyline was flat. There was no clear build-up, climax, and the ending did nothing beside make it clear that Weysh and Yenni might figure things out. There was more that needed to be added to leave the reader satisfied.

Overall, I would not recommend this story to another reader and I will not read it again.
Profile Image for Ahana M Rao (Heart’s Content).
539 reviews71 followers
February 4, 2020
You can find this review of Given on my blog, Heart's Content!

Received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This may just one of the hardest reviews I have ever written. There was a lot of thought I needed to put into writing what I felt, because there were many mangled thoughts and emotions and often they overlapped and I'm still unsure if I will do a good job. This review might be mildly spoiler-y, do not read if you haven't read Given. It's probably going to be long, put up with me. <3

I've a bit of a soft spot for any Wattpad Novel and I often pounce on request anything that Wattpad publishes. There are very many amazing authors out there and Wattpad gives voice to them and I'll forever love them for that. Given by Nandi Taylor was a book I was very excited for and I was super super thrilled to begin reading it. 

There are many aspects to Given that are very lovely. All the culture that we get to see and especially the deep thought that has clearly gone into the different practices, runes, rules and unique customs of the tribes and people. The absolute confidence with which all these details were laid out had me very impressed and kept me interested in the book. However, it felt to me as if because we don't get any introduction to any of this I didn't get to fully enjoy them or feel the depth with which the meaning of each ritual/custom was practiced. 

Another aspect of this book, of course that was eventually something I truly began to enjoy, was how the idea of consent was handled. Even consent to be pursued. The ideology of fated lovers has a certain ... set of ideas it comes with--even for a reader. This book questions all those ideas and works on actually creating a relationship between the protagonists. A lot of the questions that are thrown at the male lead are those that we often would ask in reality, but never question when we read in a book. And of course, the questions the heroine asks (metaphorically) are hard questions to society on the so-called gender roles that everyone is made to be trapped in. 

I do feel that the author naturally writes a healthy relationship, because it was then when I really fell into the writing. I did feel the parts where the hero was behaving all caveman, was a little stilted. I would've preferred that the relationship was healthy from the start, simply because the message would've come across beautifully without feeling the minor discordant tune of being shown how-one-shouldn't-be-in-a-relationship. Despite that, the growth of their relationship was lovely and healthy and I did enjoy seeing it blossom into what it was. 

It did take a bit to get used to the heroine, given her rigidity to change of customs in the beginning and how she may come off as unbending. However, as the story progresses, there are a lot of changes that take place in Yenni as well and even if there are things she ought to have done/realized earlier, she does eventually, as best as she can.

There were many sudden incidents where things come together/fall apart and this happens many times--be it miracles immediately after a prayer, or an issue fizzling away or what felt like unexplained grudges that suddenly came to an end or just exploded--which felt a little unbelievable after the first two times. 

Three point five stars. 
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for CW Knight.
60 reviews9 followers
June 3, 2020
1.5 stars. This book is a 1.5 star. Just so you can be braced for what type of review this is going to be.

This is a book published by Wattpad, if you couldn't tell by the giant Wattpad logo on the cover. Now, I will not say that makes a book inherently bad. I have found amazing books on Wattpad. I am excited for a few of their upcoming releases. I still strongly recommend reading The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale / solacing when it comes out.
But this... This was the epitome of what people mean when they say "Wattpad books" in a bad way.

First, I'm going to focus on the writing. We get the joy of having actual examples when I review this one. There are a few things this book did that made me cringe, but one of the things was this:

"Ahead the n'ne shimmered in the sunlight, the black hair of its haunches flashing blue, then green, then gold."

"N'ne" is a Yirba word for a deer like creature. And like all other Yirba words, it is italicized... The first time it appears. Every other instance? Nada. Just written like a normal word... Like, choose one thing or the other. Don't just start it then... Stop? If you italicize it so that people know it's a made up word, come on. Readers are smarter than that. If you italicize it to show it is a word said that isn't in the normal way of speaking... Don't do it once then stop? I know this is a small thing, but it bothered me so much.

The editors definitely let a decent amount of things slip through that more admired publishing agencies wouldn't have, like I saw a "he would he would" in there. And a time when a new speaker's dialogue was in the same paragraph as another's....

But worse about all of this when it came to the writing? Well, I have described it this way to a few other people: It is as dry and as flat as a skeleton's breasts. The narrative was so told and nothing about the writing really packed a punch. My favorite scene to demonstrate this with is the first usage of magic we ever get described in this world:

"Later in the day, Yenni sat in her bedroom on a wide reed mat beside her hammock, mixing runepaint. Once it was the right consistency, and the perfect shade of blue-tinged white, she took up her runebrush, dipped the coarse boar's-hair tip in, and started the rune for strength on her bicep. As she drew she sang the hymn of strength, and her song infused the paint, making it glow, until she tied the hymn off with a final low note and the rune set, seeping into her skin. It would stay there until she used it up.

She nodded in satisfaction and went back to mixing. The circle of prongs that made up her new blackwood whisk clacked against the shiny, matching bowl—a going away present from her older sisters. Blackwood was incredibly hard to come by, but it was best for blending the purest runepaint. Typically only the Masters, in their temples along the coast, had access to the sacred wood. How her sisters had come by the set she had no idea, but the two of them were bright eyed, sweet voiced, and charming, and tended to get their way more often than not. Yenni had not inherited their same powers of persuasion, but she had been able to sway her parents on the thing that mattered most: tomorrow she would leave for the Empire of Cresh."

I want to make one thing clear: I adore this book's magic systems. The runelore is absolutely fascinating and the Cresh magic system of source that is almost more European is still creative and interesting. I loved that applying rune paint to dragons made them even stronger, showing a benefit of the runelore as dragon kind cannot use Cresh magic in their dragon form.

Heck, I even liked the fact that they drew the line between dragons -- huge, fearsome beasts -- and dragon kind -- humans gifted the ability to shift into dragons.

The religions were even really nice and were interesting to see their impact on the characters and how they could clash with each other.

The world was my favorite part of this book, which is why it hurt so much when all of it was conveyed to us in such a dry way. The world is magical, and it deserved more magical writing to bring it to life. It never did. Like the narrative, the world building was very telly and boring.

Now, for the plot. My gosh, the plot...

I will give Nandi Taylor this: she tried to subvert expectations. She tried to make the mate trope something more in her book. She just... She didn't.

First off, I am majorly insulted that the mate trope has infected my precious dragons. But, whatever. I read the summary. I still got the book. Human and dragon-kind romance was obviously appealing to me.

But I got the book because the summary made it sound like it was more a thing happening alongside the plot. The Given (mate) thing was there, sure, but the summary was so focused on other things I thought it would be fine. Relationship that developed alongside the plot.

And the plot that I thought I was getting into sounded interesting. A mysterious sickness plaguing her father and Yenni having to go to another land to find a cure? Cool. I expected a lot of world exploration, clash of cultures, and learning to understand others.

Instead I got a book where all this happened in the background where I never really saw it happen, being told Yenni was struggling with classes, and all the focus going on Yenni and Weysh -- the dragon kind man -- having their spats that went like this:

Weysh: You are my Given. You must be with me.

Yenni: I don't wanna

Weysh: But you must!

Yenni: Nuh-uh

Until suddenly she was falling for him? Like, seriously, out of nowhere, she had a 180 and was just like "ya know, he isn't that bad." Then the stuff became basically the same as above, except her convincing herself they couldn't be together while Weysh kept doing things to mess stuff up and make her mad until, finally, they get together!

I wanted to chuck this book so many times... The intriguing plot promised to us got tossed in a fire to burn away while we focused on the most annoying drama I have ever read. Why? Because, quite simply, I despised Weysh.

Oblivious is one thing. Desperate to prove himself as a dragon is another. Treating his Given like she has no voice when apparently he is very kind to and considerate to every other woman he has been with, and constantly acting like she has no free will because they're Given?

I do not DNF books. But oh goodness, did I want to.

Also, the villains? Absolutely 2D. A knowledge maniac who wasn't set up very well to go as far as he did and a random classmate who ended up being crazed.

The writing was blah. The plot that was set up lost all its focus because romance. Romance which was blah between characters that were blah. World? Amazing. I liked. It's the only reason this is 1.5 and not 1.

*sighs* Such a waste of an amazing cover and world...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be trying to forget Given ever happened.
Profile Image for Monica.
484 reviews98 followers
October 27, 2019
**Disclaimer: I was given a free e-book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.**

Title Given

Author Nandi Taylor

Release Date January 21, 2020

Description from Amazon

Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting an attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself.

Initial Thoughts

This book sounded super interesting so when I read the description on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to apply. I also really enjoyed the last Wattpad published book I received from NetGalley so this seemed like a win-win.

Some Things I Liked

World building. I really liked the background information and descriptions of Yenni’s family and homeland. I was somewhat disappointed that we didn’t get more of that, but I would definitely like to see more of that in sequels to this story.
Harry Potter vibes. I loved the elements of magic school and Yenni trying to adjust to the culture shock of everything new around her.
Enemies to lovers romance. One of my favorites. I was a little worried that Nandi Taylor might sneak a love triangle in here, but I was very pleased to find that trope missing. I thought the romance was nicely developed and I appreciated the timeline of events. YA stories often feature insta-love or some from of the main characters hating each other then a week later getting married. This story had a nice pace and the timeline made their story believable.

Some Things I Didn’t Like

I felt like the NetGalley description was not entirely accurate. Yes, Yenni goes on a journey and she meets a dragon, but I definitely wasn’t expecting magic school / Harry Potter vibes. I didn’t mind it at all, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Similarly, I was expecting the central plot to be more about Yenni’s homeland. I think if the description cited that this was one of a series, I’d have been more prepared for the turns the plot took and the ending.

Series Value

While the description did not mention this is a series, if it is, I’d continue with it. Is this a drop everything, the new book is out series? No, probably not. But, I’d definitely pick up a copy of any sequel to this story and read it at some point.

Cover Art

I haven’t featured this section in a while but I felt like it was definitely relevant to this title. I am not a fan of the cover art here. I felt like it made the book look too much like a graphic novel or a kid’s book. I think the art would be fine for promotional material, but I don’t think it does the book justice. I much prefer the more abstract art featured when this book was solely published on Wattpad.

Final Thoughts

I liked this book. I would continue with the series and I think it has a lot of potential. I can easily see why it had so many reads on Wattpad.


Recommendations for Further Reading

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – specifically, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but I can’t just recommend one book in that series because what kind of lunatic would read a random book from the middle?? Anyway, this story gave me a ton of Harry Potter vibes from magic school to the culture shock that the main character experienced. If you liked this book, give the Harry Potter series a try.
Talon by Julie Kagawa – if you liked the shape-shifting dragon elements of this book, give this series by Julie Kagawa a try – you won’t be disappointed!
Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell – if you liked the enemies to lovers romance and the language elements of Given, give Jill Criswell’s series a try. Book two is coming out next year.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,226 reviews99 followers
September 12, 2020
Given was a really entertaining read that combined two of my favorite things in books: magical schools and dragons. I typically struggle with character-driven stories but found Given hard to put down. It had just the right mix of interesting, lovable characters and action.

Yenni Aja-Nifemi ka Yirba was such a compelling main character. The book is largely based around her experiences attending school in a colonizing country across the ocean from her home, rather than a broader external conflict, and I found Yenni a really interesting character to read about. She's driven by love for her family, angry about the prejudice she experiences in Cresh, and frustrated that a strange dragon keeps insisting she's his soulmate, or Given. I loved seeing Yenni grow over the course of the book and appreciated that the relationship between her and her Given, Weysh, often took a backseat to Yenni's personal journey.

The world-building in Given is really well done and I enjoyed the experience of learning more about Cresh through an outsider's perspective. There were important questions raised about the impacts of colonialism and how people can try to resist the efforts to assimilate into a culture they didn't choose. I would've loved to see more of the Sha Islands, Yenni's home, but I guess you can't have it all.

The big reason this wasn't a 5-star book for me was that I didn't really care for the ending. The plot of Given was relatively slow paced and character-driven yet the last 20% suddenly had a ton of external conflict that felt a bit at-odds with the tone of the rest of the book. It wasn't a bad ending but was a bit disappointing considering how much I'd enjoyed the rest of the story.


Thank you to Edelweiss and Wattpad Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rachel Penny.
284 reviews4 followers
November 27, 2019
2.5 stars.

*Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of Given in exchange for this review! (The Given e-ARC has 447 pages.)

During the first half of the story I was "hooked" on knowing what would happen to Yenni Ajani during her year in Cresh. The world and magic system was very well constructed, organized, and explained. Runelore magic really interests me and I'd like to know what will happen to Yenni and Weysh after the events in Given. Overall, the story was enjoyable, but my interest was largely held up throughout the novel by the magic system, Yenni herself, and wanting to know exactly what the wither-rot sickness is and how it can be helped.
If it wasn't for those things, I may have put Given down. Many of the chapters seemed repetitive when it came to Yenni and Weysh's interactions with one another; they would see each other and just talk about the same topic with no change in their opinions and resolutions for a large amount of the beginning of the novel. There also didn't seem to be high enough stakes for the troubles that Yenni and her friends encountered, especially with a lack of explanation about Noriago's motives and reasons for his actions.
Profile Image for Gwen Carl!!.
109 reviews
January 5, 2023
Gods was this book terrible. I have so many complaints about this book and actually I don't think there was anything I liked about this b00k. First of all the world building was absolutely awful nothing was explained I had no idea what time we were in or how any of the world worked the author would just throw in random things and expect you to know what they are. Also FORESHADOWING I don't think the author has ever heard of it like seriously nothing was hinted at and I had no idea where the story was going for example near the end of the book the main love interest Weysh gets attacked and loses his sense of smell, but nothing leading up to that part said anything saying that it was important for a dragon to lose his smell so when it happened I was just like ok so you can't smell at least you aren't like dead stop being overdramatic but no apparently it's this huge thing and everyone knows about it like WHAT. Also there was a rivalry between Weysh and this other dragon but it wasn't explained why they hated each other throughout the whole book they were fighting and I was just thinking to myself why it makes no sense. Now let's get into the characters my favorite one was no of them they were all terrible, Yenni was nice I get but sometimes she was super annoying and then we have Weysh I did not like him in the slightest he starts out by claiming Yenni is his given which basically means his soulmate and the first thing he says to her is we must get married and I was like no, no no no stop that you weirdo and obviously Yenni doesn't want to marry this strange man she has never met before and then later he basically kidnaps her and then is offended when she doesn't thank him for it like what. After that he goes to apologize for said kidnapping by buying her dragon riding gear so they can ride together which is the worst idea like hey sorry for kidnapping you here is stuff to make the kidnappings more enjoyable for you, but then he doesn't even give it to her because he gets upset that she is scared of him, dude come on of course she is scared you grabbed her off the ground and flew her to a cave in a cliff did you expect her to jump for joy. I don't even know why they started liking each other like there was one time that she tells him she doesn't want to be with him because she is already engaged to a prince to help unite their tribes and he gets upset at that like honey obviously she doesn't want to be with you she has her own goals in life that do not involve you and then she says she can't be with him because she is a princess engaged to a prince and he was a nobody which he was and then he has the audacity to be upset about that claiming she needs to treat him with respect even though he basically on the first day he met her he said they needed to get married so she can have his baby and perform her wifely duties does he not know that respect goes both ways and respect is earned not given and usually you don't give respect to people who KIDNAP you. I didn't feel anything for any characters I laughed when Weysh's wings were ripped I thought he was going to die and you know what I was happy about that. Then all of the sudden they are in love WHAT when did that happen and she's like oops hopefully my tribe will be okay with me not going through with the marriage and instead I just get with this dragon shifter, she was definitely not a girlboss. Also Weysh's backstory was dumb and that's all I'm going to say about that. And there was this part where they were finally going to fuck and I wasn't even happy about it you know why because before they did Weysh said "If this continues I will make love to you tonight" I literally almost threw up in my mouth. Now I know what you are thinking this book sounds gods awful why would you not give up and DNF and let me tell you I have no idea I had to finish it, it was like a car crash I couldn't look away this book gave me a terrible case of stockholm syndrome and not the good kind. Anyway sorry for the rant but I had to get all my thoughts across and if you made it this far thank you for reading the whole thing you have my respect. And Avery if you read this whole thing and are going to comment of course it was terrible it was published by wattpad and I would like to tell you to shut your mouth.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Angelique Nish.
119 reviews2 followers
February 3, 2020
I received an electronic ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Given by Nandi Taylor is like if you took Harry Potter but put them in college. It even also deals with issues like racism and class structure.
Yenni Aja-Nifemi ka Yirba is - yup, with a name like that, you guessed it - a Princess of her island tribe kingdom. Sickness is threatening her father’s life and with the blessing of her gods, Yenni embarks on a 1 year journey that takes her to Cresh. More specifically to the post-secondary magic school in which Yenni hopes to learn of the Creshan healing magic. She’s ready to spend her year studying diligently until a man, who also happens to be a dragon, claims that she is her Given.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think it was ever explained what the cultural context or history of what a Given is? Or if it did, I didn’t remember it, or it wasn’t that important, which kind of defeats the purpose of the title of the book...

This book was soooooo... “college-y” for lack of a better word. I honestly had no problem with it; I really quite enjoyed the whole college aspect. It was fun and relatable. That and the characters is the reason that I’m giving this book 4 stars instead of 3. But it focused so much so on the college aspect it really lost its appeal of being a fantasy book. It honestly felt like college was the main quest (it was kinda supposed to be, I guess?) with all the magical adventure parts coming in as side-quests. I came into this book expecting way more fantasy than I got. If none of the “bad stuff” happened (conveniently during school breaks, might I add) I feel as though nothing would have been lost from the novel anyway. The action aspect of the book just did. not. matter. This was a book about school.

Let’s move on to characters. I thought most everyone was adorably, stupidly cute (I mean this in the best way possible.) Everyone was just so quippy and casual and not afraid to say what’s on their mind. For the most part Yenni was a focused, smart, hard-working girl. She was wary of all the new people and yet very adapting and accommodating. She would comment in her thoughts about the mildly racist things, but wouldn’t speak up about them though which I thought she would do. Basically nobody said her last name right, but she didn’t care? I liked her a lot until the become so “gushy” (because you know why).

I’ll stop here, even though I could say more because there’s a lot more to talk about. But I do recommend picking up this book if you want a not-so-heavy fantasy book. The beginning of the book is a little overwhelming with all the lore and introduction of their type of magic, but a couple of chapters in and you’ll be reading a fun, amusing story about magic college.
Profile Image for The Book Gawdess.
187 reviews9 followers
January 19, 2020
Given is the first book by Nandi Taylor. I can safely say that based on this book, I hope Ms Taylor is planning to write more books. The books is based on Yenni's life. Yenni is a princess of an island tribe whose father, the chieftain, is dying from a mysterious disease. She has to make a journey to find the cure to save her father. She goes to the Empire of Cresh, which is a new land to her full of strange people and magic she has never seen before. She meets Weysh, a dragon who insists that she is his destined mate, what the dragons call his Given. She cannot stand him but eventually she realizes he may be the only way for her to get answers.

From the beginning I was enchanted with the descriptions used to build the worlds Yenni inhabited. I was able to vividly imagine the strange colors of the people and dragons in Cresh while seeing in my mind's eye how striking the white runes must have been on Yenni's dark skin.

Honestly I knew other readers said he was full of toxic masculinity but I adored Weysh from the first time I read about him. He may have been a bit arrogant at first but that is because he was so excited that he was going to have something he always craved, a real family. And let's give him a little credit, he cleaned up so well later on in the book it was easy to forgive his bumbling errors earlier.

As a Caribbean girl, I was able to identify with Yenni, particularly when I saw the way other islanders spoke. 'Mam'selle' is used quite frequently in my country and curry goat is something all Trinis love. The use of 'de' instead of 'the' is something all of us islanders have in common. I think my favorite parts of the boon were when Yenni's fellow islander classmate, Deirdre spoke.

Unfortunately what I was also able to identify with was the prejudice she encountered. I have had ignorant citizens of other countries ask me if Trinidad & Tobago is part of Africa, they have asked if we have running water in our country. Some people were also quite surprised that we have internet and electricity.

I would love to continue this series and see what happens next with Yenni and Weysh. I hope Ms Taylor releases a sequel quickly. Anyone who is into fantasy would love this book and I think it would be appreciated even more by Caribbean readers.

Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild sexual content. Teens can read this book.
Profanity: None
Religious Themes: Talk about gods and demons.
Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking: One instance of drinking beer and another where a character is depressed and drinking whiskey
Profile Image for Paige.
1,723 reviews79 followers
January 22, 2020
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher and Netgalley. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Given

Author: Nandi Taylor

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Diversity: West-African and Caribbean

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Genre: YA Romance

Recommended Age: 15+ (romance, some violence, and… lots of romance)

Publisher: Wattpad Books

Pages: 352

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting her attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself.

Review: Overall, I thought this was an interesting tale with very interesting characters. For the most part, they’re developed and the book had a lot of interesting lore that I’d love to know more about.

However, the book is completely different than what the synopsis leads me to believe. It’s basically a romance. The book also didn’t do well in the writing department. The book didn’t fully incorporate racism and it didn’t really develop the plot well in my opinion.

Verdict: It’s worth the read, but it could use some work in my opinion. But it’s got a really interesting concept and I’d love to see it further developed!
Profile Image for Elana.
Author 8 books109 followers
April 17, 2021
This book was an impulse buy at B&N (because OBVIOUSLY, dragon right smack dab on the cover), and I'm so happy I found it. It's everything I could want in a dragon shifter romance!

The worldbuilding is beautifully done. I loved everything about Yirba, I enjoyed learning the fraught history and seeing the lovely environments of Cresh, but my heart was stolen by the dragons (shocker, who didn't see that coming?) and draconic culture. The romance between Yenni and Weysh was well fleshed out but not overstated, and honestly, I really appreciated that. I loved that both Yenni and Weysh were given things to focus on besides each other. I loved the fact that they both had agency and arcs that were intertwined with, yet independent of, their developing relationship.

I'm a sucker for a good fantasy romance, but oftentimes I find that the romance aspect overwhelms the fantasy aspect. That was not the case in this book, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. I particularly loved the magic system, and how Taylor had two cultures with different relationships to magic, yet the magic all seems to stem from the same wellspring of universal energy.

Poignant commentary, strong heroes, enchanting descriptions, and amazing dragon depictions make this a 5/5 read. An absolute must-add to the shelves of any self-respecting dragon aficionado!


P.S. - because I am at heart a 12-year-old boy, I feel I must make note of Taylor's terrific use of the term "ass boil," and admit that it made me laugh out loud not once but twice (each time I encountered it).
Profile Image for Mahalia Gosla.
324 reviews16 followers
February 17, 2020
I didn’t finish this. I know that the character is supposed to go through this massive change, but Yenni is annoying. Yenni whines on and on. About how she is a princess, however, at the beginning of the book, she says that she doesn’t want to abuse her rank. Yenni finds her Dragon (soulmate) name Weysh, who I have pitied through the chapters I have read so far. Although he does do some creepy stuff in their first meetings, this is a school environment where Yenni is to learn how to heal her father and understand dragonkind. She is beyond bossy, bratty, and ignorant at the rich culture around her. It takes her way too long to open her mind to the culture and customs of the Cresh. I will try to pick this book up again because I can feel the possibility of a four-star read.

Within this novel have the gender roles that Yenni fights tooth and nail to change, which is one of the reasons I tried to power through this novel, but I just can’t. Given isn't a bad novel by no means. The world-building, magic system, and history are fantastic!
Profile Image for Ola Adamska.
2,750 reviews20 followers
January 16, 2020
This book was a good debut of a new author. It had signs of this being a debut story as in some parts that story was unpolished and rough around the edges.
The description of this story I find not accurate in some parts as its misleading in some parts. There are some things I had not expected from the blurb like the school part/vibe and lots of growing romance parts.
I really liked the world-building and how this story was developing in that matter. It made this read really intriguing how two completely different cultures had clashed.
I think with better blurb this book would be rated much better!
I wonder what Ms. Taylor would write next!
Profile Image for V.S. Santoni.
Author 4 books92 followers
January 12, 2020
I got an ARC of this book from Netgalley. This book is a gem, and Nandi Taylor is a great writer who will only get better with time. Other fantasy writers better watch out.
Profile Image for Sage Knightly.
525 reviews26 followers
January 3, 2020
*These are just some rants. Full rtc

I am utterly shocked that Yenni never had the thought to help her Given's stepfather after she found a temporary cure. Especially since she is portrayed as a compassionate, selfless, kind Princess who does all she can to help those around her.

Also, what the heck? This was such a different story than I was expecting based off the synopsis. I feel lied to.

We meet Yenni on her home island about a day before she is to depart for Cresh, and it feels like we get this peek of her island home just to introduce her sick father and potential arranged marriage partner. Because honestly, those two things are constantly referenced throughout the book and we rarely hear about her culture, home life, and traditions. Not to mention the book fails to fully incorporate the racism and struggle Yenni must have (or should have) faced (considering her Island has not been in contact with Cresh for hundreds of years) in such a new environment.

We get drama (of the romantic sort) and a very predictable threat (which of course Yenni did not discover until near the end despite how obvious the culprit is), and of course her Rune magic. But otherwise, this story lacks the reality of the struggle and problematic encounters that some would face in real life, which makes it hard to connect with the characters and to feel fully immersed in the story.

I also did not enjoy the romance. It was there, and I did not hate it. But I did not love it. Yenni refuses to even listen to Weysh during their first few encounters, and afterwards she constantly belittles his feelings and doesn't seem to care that she may be hurting him. Weysh on the other hand starts off as a possessive brute (We WILL get married! Why you will do your womanly duties as my wife, of course! We are Given, you are mine!), and eventually realizes his behaviour and becomes more of a passive 'I will do as you say' character. He stays by her side and forgives her even after the countless times she has rejected and hurt him. I did not like them together. It felt like the only reason they even ended up together was because they were Given. Though thankfully, it was not insta love since Yenni fought him for so long.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for disa.
34 reviews23 followers
Want to read
June 7, 2020
Wow this sounds great
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,216 reviews391 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
January 1, 2020
Abandoned 100 pages in. Things were moving too slowly, the focus was very heavy on the romance when I wasn't expecting it, and when I put it down, I had no desire whatsoever to pick it back up. I'd rather just quit now and say this much than punish myself by finishing the book and writing a bad review for something that simply wasn't what was marketed to me.

This is the first time I've said this in nearly ten years of reviewing books, but Given reads less like YA fantasy and more like new adult or straight-up adult fantasy romance despite the main characters being eighteen and twenty. Their life experiences, goals, and the way they're written (for instance, Weysh immediately thinking about marriage and children when he's only just met Yenni) just doesn't read like YA. I even double-checked the book's catalog listing on Edelweiss and yep, this is categorized as YA fantasy. Miscategorized, in my opinion.
Profile Image for D.T. Henderson.
Author 4 books57 followers
April 22, 2020
First, this cover *chef’s kiss* is excellent. I’m always in the mood for black female leads, fantasy, and dragons, so I was excited to read this. I liked that the Given conflict started quickly. This certainly wasn’t a bad story but too much of Weysh’s family and college life consumed it. If it was going to be about saving Yenni’s daddy, then I wanted that to be the primary focus and let Weysh’s telenovela happen in the background.

One of the coolest elements of the story was the runelore/rune painting. I just adored it! The way Yenni paints literal UPGRADES onto her body immediately fascinated me. The different Moonrise and Creshen Gods were also great, and the Otherspace and magic theories were fun. In addition, there are some references to microaggressions, racism, colonialism, cultural appropriation, family expectations, etc. I could have done without the hair-touching scene tho.

The pacing was not slow, but it felt long at times. Maybe that was due to so much filler. But I will accredit it mostly to the merge from Wattpad. When you’re waiting for a story to update, the pacing is perfect, but, when you have all the chapters at your disposal, y’know it is different. I was tired of Yenni’s tutoring, Weysh, and little ragdoll Carmenna’s feelings being tossed to and fro. She just dealt with a lot, but I’m so glad there was no jealousy from her. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. Toward the end, we get a super fun fight scene with a puppet. I would’ve liked more scenes like that! The ending picks up but that long middle slowed me down.

One minor thing I wondered about the technology in Creshen/Yirba. Yenni had never heard about a pencil and apparently dragons did all the air-transportation.

Yenni is a bit dull and naive but not bad. She stands up for herself and is capable.

On the other hand, Weysh is annoying. I don’t know if it’s because I never cared about Weysh but all his drama was tiresome. He came out the gate too thirsty. He licked Yenni (in dragon form) and then upon their first meeting, he said they’ll be married soon. Way too much! Haku would never haha! Of course, Yenni’s reaction was the obvious one.

I know, a tall dude with violet eyes and a lone black braid with his chest out should be endearing. I don’t think many readers are strangers to angsty, promiscuous, physically-fit, and possessive male love interests with anger issues, but I didn’t care for Weysh at all. I enjoy villains, anti-heroes, or “bad boys” who secretly have hearts of gold as long as they’re likable. Although Weysh is nowhere near one of the worst offenders, I didn’t find anything swoon-worthy about him. Eventually, he does change for the better after a life-changing event. A good point: Weysh tried to learn Yenni’s language/about her culture.

Montpierre is horrible, and, to be honest, Weysh’s maman is complicit.

Noriago was trash.

Diedre was sweet. I loved her Island accent.

The ending had such an air of finality, but I know there is a sequel. I’m calling it now: Whatever the case, I’m interested in reading more stories from this author..
Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews362 followers
August 19, 2020
I admired Yennis loyalty to her family and the courage it took to leave everything she knew behind to travel to an unfamiliar country on her own. I found myself connecting to many aspects of her character. Her fierce and confident personality had her standing firm in her beliefs even when it was difficult, but she sometimes took it too far by being stubborn to the point of wallowing in denial. She fought her feelings for Weysh so hard, but I dont blame her for wanting to do her duty as a princess. I thought it was sweet how she first started warming up to Weyshs dragon form while still not being able to stand the man. She definitely liked him more when he couldnt talk, and to be honest I probably would have too. His oblivious attempts at courting were hilarious, but it was him owning up to his disregard of her wants and needs that truly endeared him to me. They both ended up getting some satisfying character growth.

I had to suspend my disbelief a little when it came to Weysh not knowing how to properly interact with a woman, especially considering his track record of hooking up with plenty of them. I'm happy we got the first few chapters to get to know Yennis family. Her bond with her parents and her siblings was really heartwarming. I also really enjoyed Weyshs relationship with his mother and sister. Then we have the amazing friendship between Yenni and a fellow student named Diedre, but I was a little sad Yenni didnt pick up on any of Diedre clues that she was clearly into women. Yenni also made friends with two other dragons named Harth and Zu. The cute couple were old friends of Weysh so they were a good buffer between them. What didnt work however was Yenni having Weysh ex-girlfriend as a tutor and making promises she shouldn't have.

The plot starts off with Yenni going to study magic abroad in the hopes of finding a for her ailing father. Beside being worried for her father, theres also the threat of war looming. If her fathers illness is perceived as enough of a weakness another tribe might try to attack and gain power. Yenni is stuck between a political marriage to form an alliance that will strengthen her tribe or following her heart. Her struggle to deciding what to do created some compelling stakes. The dymanic between the main characters made the romantic plot line very entertaining. Then theres a few antagonists thrown into the mix, like Noriago who has it out for Weysh for no good reason. All that tension made for an engaging pace. Theres also the suspicious circumstances surrounding Yennis fathers illness that added a compelling mystery to the story.

Despite the heavy focus on romance, we still get a well developped fantasy world. I found the exploration of cultural differences between Yenni and Weyshs home very captivating. We also get two well thoughtout magic systems. Runelore consist of painting runes on the skin while singing a hymn that infuses it with divine power. Spellcraft on the other hand is more focused on incantations that need focused intention for the magic to respond. I loved the fascinating magical creatures like Yennis sphinx Ofa so much that I wish we got to see more of them. The shapeshifting dragons were awesome, but it was weird how Yenni would guess what Weyshs was saying when grunting in dragon form. I really enjoyed the school setting and seeing Yenni navigate a new city. I would definitely pick up a sequel if one comes out.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 4 books76 followers
February 16, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley, Nandi Taylor, and Wattpad Books for the opportunity to read Given in exchange for an honest review.

First and foremost, I love dragons. I feel like it can be a bit of a challenge to find a young adult dragon romance book that I can really enjoy. I love the style of the book cover and it's the visual dynamic between the girl (Yenni) and the Dragon (Weysh) that drew me in. Though once I read the description, I was instantly sold.

Not only do I love books about dragons, but I love it when it's about dragons who can turn into humans (hence the romance).

Yenni is from an island clan of people. As a princess, she is able to take a year of experience away from the islands and chooses to go to Prevan Academy for Battle and Magical Arts in Cresh,  an empire on the other side of the world. Yenni hopes that her new knowledge and experiences will bring her a way to praise the gods and find protection for her people (and hopefully a cure for her ill father within that experience).

Upon arrival to Cresh, a black dragon lands in front of her, sniffing and tasting her. She feels attacked, as one who has never seen a dragon before, but passersby take the action in stride. It's a norm there.

Weysh is a dragon. Dragons, sometime in their lifetime (generally before the age of thirty), have an imprinting bond called a Given, basically the one that is their soul mate. Weysh knows without a doubt that Yenni is his given. While those around him, including his family and girlfriend, understand the inclination of finding one's Given, Yenni does not know about this cultural phenomenon and fights the dragon at every turn. I mean, she is a warrior after all...

When Yenni's culture clashes with the practices of Cresh, she is unsure if she should stay. but the deal with her deity is to finish a year of school and return to the Moonlight Islands with knowledge to help her people strive. Though upon her return, she is to be married to another. Weysh believes Yenni will come around. She is his Given, so she must return his feelings eventually, right?

So is it the YA dragon romance I have been waiting for? Not exactly, but it's still an enjoyable read. It felt like it might be a stand-alone, which I was hoping for, but it looks like there will probably be a continuation to the series. Will I keep going? More likely than not! Between dragon rivalries, royal politics, and seeking honest knowledge, this book has a flavorful feel of adventure and flare, with enjoyable dialogue and captivating cultural elements. I will definitely be suggesting this book to the dragon-living teens I know.
Profile Image for melhara.
1,272 reviews57 followers
May 5, 2020

This was an incredibly slow moving fantasy novel. I imagine many may feel inclined to DNF it as there isn't much going for it plot-wise. Also, the action doesn't commence until about 80% into the book (no jokes!)

Even so, I thought the worldbuilding and magic system were exquisite. I also loved the diversity and portrayal of Island (Caribbean) culture/magic versus Creshen (Caucasian) culture/magic (in terms of diversity, worldbuilding and magic, I thought this book did a much better job than Children of Blood and Bone ). I also thought it was great that this fantasy novel touched upon themes of cultural appropriation which I don't think is something I've encountered in a fantasy novel.

Yenni is an island princess who practices runelore (magical runes that are painted on the body) who travels to Cresh to learn their magic and find a cure to her father's mysterious illness. Having never left the island (and being one of the few Islanders that are enrolled in the Creshen academy), Yenni struggles to learn Creshen ways, to understand their vastly different ways of using magic (spellcasting), and encounters discrimination for the first time. To make matters even more difficult, Yenni encounters a shape-shifting dragon for the first time who has taken an immediate liking to her and refuses to leave her alone because she's apparently his "Given"/soulmate! (*barf*)

Despite the interesting world-building and premise, the book itself was pretty mediocre. I hope this is a series because what I thought was a major plot point was not addressed at all by end of the book (). I also wasn't the biggest fan of the writing style - it was incredibly juvenile and felt like I was reading a middle grade novel even though the characters were all in their late teens/early twenties and attending a magical university.

Unfortunately, the weak plot, slow pace and terrible ending (which only tied up a few loose ends and left a major loose end hanging ) makes it difficult for me to give this book a higher rating.

tl;dr - This was a decent book for middle-grade kids and possibly YA on the younger spectrum (age 10-14). It's not a good standalone novel as it feels like it might be the first book of a series.
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