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Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Mar 06, 2017 at 6:05pm

Given to the Sea tries hard to be a complex, character-driven fantasy but falls short on many accounts. The book follows four points of view: Khosa, the Given, is to be sacrificed so her kingdom won't drown. She must also give birth to the next Given; Vincent, the prince of Stille, doesn't want the responsibility that comes with his position; Dara and Donil, twins who each carry a hint of magic. Their race, the Inditri, are slaughtered by the Pietra and they are the last of their kind. Adopted by Stille royalty, they become Vincent's half siblings; Finally there's Witt, the leader of the Pietra. He's readying his army for war once again, and this time, Stille is his target.

First, the world building. There were so many names thrown at me, and each was explained in very few sentences before the point of view switched, only for the same thing to happen again. Sure, I was familiar with them halfway through, but I felt so disconnected that I stopped caring altogether. With a such a small world, I also expected more focus on Stille and Pietra's cultures, but no. Instead everything seems to be revolving around Khosa and who she would bed. The magic system is another problem I have. It felt too convenient and underdeveloped. During a crisis, a person with magical would burst out and save the day because they can. Plus, how can a race with magical powers like the Indiri get wiped out entirely save for two people? If people with magic exist, how can they not find some sort of solution against the ocean that tries to drown them all? So many unsatisfied questions.

The characters hardly developped at all, and I just don't get Khosa. One second, she refuses to be touched by anyone. Then she suddenly melts into the arms of a boy she talks to twice because he's attractive. I kind of wanted to push her into the sea myself since she hardly contributes anything to the plot. And what's with the oversexualized plot? The topic of discussion in every chapter was who sleeps with who. I seriously think the reason Vincent hates his position is because he can't choose who he should sleep with. The dude literally spends the whole book romanticizing not one, but two girls, who he repeatedly says he has no interested in, then proceeds to be jealous when the girls are with other people. Dara is properly the most decent character in the book. She is strong, brave, and every bit an independent young woman. Although she too has a crush on someone, she doesn't spend the whole story mooning over him. Dara gets the job done, but she still feels too generic. I don't have anything to say about Donil and Witt. I don't hate them, but neither do I appreciate them.

A lot of ranting aside, I do want to see other opinions about this book. When it comes to fantasy, I just happen to be super picky. Do try this book out if the premise interests you, but I can't say that I recommend it. At the very least, you'll end up with a pretty book on your shelf and that's all that matteres. 1.5/5 stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Given to the Sea will be available April 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

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See:

Given to the Sea

- Young adult hardcover

by Mindy McGinnis - $23.99 - Add to Cart

Kings and Queens rise and fall, loyalties collide, and romance blooms in a world where the sea is rising--and cannot be escaped. 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.Praise for Given to the Sea:"Star-crossed love is at the heart of this darkly vivid tale, woven with hypnotic prose and captivatingly intense characters [. . .] Readers will be hypnotized by their relationships as well as the allure of the created world in this first book of the Given duet."--Romantic Times"[T]his book isn't just about love triangles (or squares): themes of duty and fate are thickly woven into the fabric of this tale as each character grapples with balancing moral obligation against desire."--Kirkus Reviews"Four neatly interlocking narratives build a riveting story about destiny [. . .] There's plenty of gore, romance, plot twists, and cliff-hangers, but readers will also find thoughtful challenges to racism, misogyny, and cruelty--plus a strong feminist element too."--Booklist"Readers willing to look at the larger ensemble cast, the characters' connections, and the subsequent political machinations may appreciate the world building and the disturbing but satisfying ending."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books