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December 11, 2017

Review: Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis

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.

Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1)
by Mindy McGinnis
Publication Date:  April 11, 2017
Publisher:  Putnam’s Childrens

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I couldn’t find a trailer, so here’s a song!

Who doesn’t love a story that they haven’t read before? We’ve all got our favorite genres, our favorite stories that are told and re-told by various authors, our favorite tropes that just add a little somethingspecial to a novel’s storyline—but who doesn’t want to pick up something new? The premise for Given to the Sea by author Mindy McGinnis sounded like an opportunity to read something original and brand new. From the moment I started reading the description, it sounded like a novel that had all this potential to be something great. The potential was there, but the execution is another story.

                In Given to the Sea, Khosa is the Given—the descendent of a long line of girls who have been sacrificed to the sea after giving birth to the next Given. The Given’s sacrifice is one that keeps the world afloat, but Khosa is yet to pick a man and conceive a child. With the touch of all but the Indiri people being repulsive to her, the countdown to cataclysm has commenced, and panic ensues within the Kingdom of Stille. Stille’s Prince Vincent is enamoured by Khosa, and tensions rise when the Lithos of the Pietran people decides to lay siege to the Kingdom of Stille and conquer the land for his own.

                Initially, I had really liked Given to the Sea. The first half-dozen chapters were intriguing, and I was excited to become invested in the large cast of characters. I’ve been a fan of novels in the past that have multiple protagonists (see Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo or Ruta Septys’ Salt to the Sea) given that the plot can balance everything that comes with having a story told from various points of view. The thing about Given to the Sea is that it felt like it couldn’t balance having such a large cast. There was simply too much going on and not enough reason for the reader to be invested in the story.

                The first thing that really stood out to me while reading Given to the Sea was that the world-building just wasn’t there. We were given brief descriptions of locations, the names of places, of groups of people in the world and their ideologies—but none of it felt coherent. I didn’t have a clear image in my mind of where the story was, of which groups did what and belonged to where, of why conflicts existed outside of the fact that they just did. It was hard to keep up with the novel given that I was reeling and lost the majority of the time.

                The second thing that stood out to me was the fact that I wasn’t invested in any of the characters. At all. Their flaws felt distant and stereotypical, their personalities were cliché, there was nothing that had me cheering on any of them. I wasn’t too concerned with what would happen to anyone in the cast, which was such a disappointment because I really wanted to feel for Khosa and her situation. I thought that Khosa would at least be a character who would develop to be strong on her own, especially since so many men have tried to dictate her decisions thus far. Not to mention characters suggested numerous times in the novel that Khosa be raped in order to produce an heir. I just  had such high hopes that she would develop into a well-rounded character—a protagonist that I would cheer for until the end.

                Yet I experienced none of that. Khosa annoyed me. Her ‘romance’ felt forced. Come the novel’s conclusion, it felt like nothing with her had really changed. She had so much potential to be a ground-breaking character, but alas, it all just fell short.

                 Now, this isn’t to say that the novel doesn’t have its moments. McGinnis’s writing is easy to read, and there were moments where her prose managed to stir up my emotions in the best ways. I was also a fan of the chapters that involved the Lithos. Out of the entire cast, I felt that he was the most well-developed and the only character that I could maybe root for and stand behind, despite the fact that he was an anti-hero. I enjoyed the turmoil the Lithos faced, as well as the duties he had to carry out, no matter how dark some of them turned out to be. The Lithos was easily the most flawed character in the novel, the most broken, and the only character that felt real. It’s a shame the entire cast wasn’t built with that same realistic touch.

                I’m sure there are some readers out there who would pick it up and find that it’s exactly their cup of tea. And all in all, Given to the Sea was a novel that was all right, and just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.

 

About Mindy McGinnis

Mindy McGinnis is a YA author who has worked in a high school library for thirteen years. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival story set in a world with very little freshwater, has been optioned for film my Stephanie Meyer's Fickle Fish Films. The companion novel, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST was released in 2014. Her Gothic historical thriller, A MADNESS SO DISCREET won the Edgar Award in 2015. Her newest release, THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is available now!

 

 

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