arc, book review, fantasy, young adult

Book Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

giventotheseaShe laughs, the sound jarring as the gray light of morning fills the library. “The waters are rising. My blood may mark me as the Given, but eventually all of Stille will drown.”

Given to the Sea

Oh my goodness, what a story! Even as excited as I was about this book, I was not prepared for the full tale and the ending. I thought it was going to be a loosely inspired greek mythology retelling of the sacrifice (and saving) of Andromeda to the Kraken. I thought wrong, aside from the fact that there is a girl and an ocean.

Given to the Sea is an epic story told from the point of view of several characters. This includes Khosa (the Given), Vincent (a prince of Stille), Dara (an Indiri warrior) and Witt (a Lithos of Pietra).

Khosa, the Given, is the latest in a long line of women to be doomed to sacrifice herself to the sea. Khosa will begin an involuntary twitching of her limbs, which changes into a dance, which carries her to her death in the sea. According to tradition, this keeps the Great Wave from returning to destroy their people. You will understand that from the novel description, but trust me, it goes much much deeper.

It is incredibly difficult to speak about this book without leading into spoilers. There is so much at work. There is tradition and myth, scholars and warriors, royals and milk maids, politics and romance, betrayal and hope. And death. Lots of death. It is an island with many different people, none of home seem to like each other and who are fighting for land and demanding that the Given make her way to the sea soon as the waters are rising. The constant throughout all of the people of their land is that the sea is to be feared, and life sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

The world building is solid. The sea is worrisome at best and utterly terrifying at its worst, and it will stick with me whenever I go for a walk on the beach. I loved all of the characters. Even the villainous ones. So while the title is “Given to the Sea” and Khosa is the Given, the story isn’t ONLY about her. This is the part that took me a few chapters to understand, even as the point of view repeatedly shifted. In truth, she was not even my favorite character for many of the pages, but like many of those around her, you can’t help but be drawn in by her fate and her acceptance of that doom. To me though the story actually pivots around the two Indiri siblings, Dara and Donil. They are magnetic and I could not get enough of them each time they graced a page.

Given to the Sea is a whole new myth creation, full of intrigue and devastation. I found myself full of hope, only to have that hope dashed away time and again as the mounting tension of the people of Stille were equally matched by the threatening sea and the secret army marching against them. The twists and turns churn like the ocean itself, and are both unexpected and expected. I was completely absorbed the words and histories. Highly recommended to those who love mythology, adventure and a bit of magic.

And fingers crossed for a second book. Please?

Note: Thank you to Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this arc. Given to the Sea is scheduled to be released on April 11, 2017.

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