Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review: Given to the Sea

Title: Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1)
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Publisher: Putnam's Childrens
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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 (goodreads)


Given to the Sea is a well-rounded fantasy that will leave you feeling uneasy. 
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.


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