Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Given to the Sea

Everyone has a place.Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pie...

Title:Given to the Sea
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0399544615
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:352 pages

Given to the Sea Reviews

  • Trina (Between Chapters)
    Apr 22, 2017

    Trigger warning if you need it: This book depicts a scene of attempted rape and examines rape culture in a fantasy setting. There is also some animal cruelty that is mentioned twice.

    If you've read anything else by Mindy McGinnis, you know that she writes about social issues. I was surprised by how much of that carried over into her fantasy world. Here, she shows a flawed society full of sexism, racism, and ableism that our main characters have to face. There were some moments I didn't enjoy read

    Trigger warning if you need it: This book depicts a scene of attempted rape and examines rape culture in a fantasy setting. There is also some animal cruelty that is mentioned twice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Overall, I enjoyed the world and characters, but I have definitely preferred some of Mindy's other books. I will be reading the sequel though!

  • Cinda
    Jun 21, 2016

    Prepare to dive into a terrifying world where the hungry sea demands human sacrifice and the people are willing to comply—by sacrificing somebody else. The story centers on Khosa, a girl whose sole job is to breed and produce a daughter before she dances into the sea, assuring the survival of those left on dry land. Awkwardly, Khosa seems disinclined to deliver.

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

    I’ll

    Prepare to dive into a terrifying world where the hungry sea demands human sacrifice and the people are willing to comply—by sacrificing somebody else. The story centers on Khosa, a girl whose sole job is to breed and produce a daughter before she dances into the sea, assuring the survival of those left on dry land. Awkwardly, Khosa seems disinclined to deliver.

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

    I’ll never walk along the beach again without looking over my shoulder.

  • Nastassja
    Jul 23, 2016
  • Emily May
    Apr 15, 2017

    I started reading

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

    The first problem with this book is the writing. It has other problems too, but it takes a while to dig through the

    in order to figure out what they are. McGinnis is clearly

    I started reading

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

    The first problem with this book is the writing. It has other problems too, but it takes a while to dig through the

    in order to figure out what they are. McGinnis is clearly one of those authors who never writes the same kind of book twice (I enjoyed her dystopian

    and dark contemporary

    , but not so much her historical thriller

    ) and this one really did not work for me.

    I'm not exaggerating when I say

    . The book is split into

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

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

    Plus, everyone seems to be obsessed with everyone else, when they're not obsessed with Khosa's impregnation. You could call it a love square, I suppose, but that seems far too neat for this mess. Basically, Dara is obsessed with Vincent who is obsessed with Dara but also obsessed with Khosa who is obsessed with Donal who is also obsessed with Khosa. ARRRGGGGHHHH. I don't

    to read on.

    . I'll go wait for the author's

    instead.

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    |

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  • Alyssa
    Nov 20, 2016

    ***

    ***

    Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

    Book One of the Given series

    Publisher: Putnam's Childrens

    Publication Date: April 11, 2017

    Rating: 2 stars

    Source: ARC sent by the publisher

    Summary (from Goodreads):

    Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to

    ***

    ***

    Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

    Book One of the Given series

    Publisher: Putnam's Childrens

    Publication Date: April 11, 2017

    Rating: 2 stars

    Source: ARC sent by the publisher

    Summary (from Goodreads):

    Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

    Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

    Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

    Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

    The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

    What I Liked:

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

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

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

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

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

    What I Did Not Like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Would I Recommend It:

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

    Rating:

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

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

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

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

    Okie. I'll bite. I haven't really enjoyed any of McGinnis's previous books (I've read of them), but maybe this one will be different.

  • Cait • A Page with a View
    Mar 29, 2017

    It was super hard to find the story through the murky mess of this book's writing. But I kind of wish I had never found it because then I'd just be bored instead of irritated.

    Khosa is meant to be sacrificed to the sea but ends up in a kingdom where she has to find a guy she's able to tolerate touching so she can get pregnant. There's way more to the story, but it really doesn't get any better.

    The worldbuilding is weak, but I'm still not a fan of the little that's there. I just don't want to si

    It was super hard to find the story through the murky mess of this book's writing. But I kind of wish I had never found it because then I'd just be bored instead of irritated.

    Khosa is meant to be sacrificed to the sea but ends up in a kingdom where she has to find a guy she's able to tolerate touching so she can get pregnant. There's way more to the story, but it really doesn't get any better.

    The worldbuilding is weak, but I'm still not a fan of the little that's there. I just don't want to sit through women being treated so poorly... like that's not fun to read (especially when there aren't many other redeeming elements to the story).

    None of the characters are realistic or well developed, either... or even particularly likable. I seriously cared about nothing. It was boring, cliche, full of hollow instalove, and honestly made me cringe.

    I really hate to leave such a negative review because someone put a lot of time into writing this and I admire anyone who can finish a book. But this was just frustrating all around as a reader.

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.

  • Khanh (the meanie)
    Apr 11, 2017

    Like, ew.

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

    This was a pretty awful book. I can't even make fun of it or enjoy it

    Like, ew.

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

    This was a pretty awful book. I can't even make fun of it or enjoy it for being entertainingly bad. It was just

    . There's like, a

    The writing is lackluster, the characters lifeless, the setting confusing and poorly explained when it was explained at all, and at least two of the narrators (there are four) were pointless, and

    .

    This story is about

    , a girl whose single mission in life is to ~~aaaah~~~

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

    ;_;

    Lol.

    The next narrator is

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

    ;_;

    Lol.

    And then there's

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

    And then there's

    and her twin brother

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

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

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

    Oh and there's this strange obsession with impregnation.

    Go rewatch The Little Mermaid or something. Don't read this book.

  • Vivianne
    May 24, 2017

    The concept was interesting but I don’t think that I would have bought this book on my own. I didn’t like the story of Kosha,

    The concept was interesting but I don’t think that I would have bought this book on my own. I didn’t like the story of Kosha,

    And for everyone to just be okay with her faith? The fact that the sea had some kind of special power of drawing girls (and let them do this weird dance), needing sacrificing otherwise it would rebel had me a little hm.. not sure I will like this. And yeah I’m so sorry to say this but I hated it.

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

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

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

    But something that really put me off in this book was

    There are lines in here that I read 10 times and still don’t understand. It was like a try at old English with a sparkle of self-fabricated slang. And it just didn’t work. But also some sentences are super weird that I’m like who in their right mind would come up with this.. I will give you an example of this:

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

    Another writing style thing; it was just not descriptive enough, and normally I really like that but when you introduce this whole fantasy world to me it needs some words about the surrounding.

    But I also had no idea how the main characters looked and that I hated most.

    It started to quick, like I noted before it needed more character introduction and more world building. The second chapter of Kosha (so page 15) hell already broke lose. Well I can say that but I actually had no idea what was happening?! It was just so strange and illogical and weird.


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