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Given to the Sea (Given Duet) Hardcover – 10 Mar 2017

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (10 Mar. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399544615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399544613
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,321,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


*Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award Winner for Best Young Adult Novel for A Madness So Discreet
*Mindy McGinnis has been nominated for an Anthony Award
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
"[T]he flawed heroes, relatable villains, and creative storytelling will pull in readers. The threads weave together, culminating in an eagerly anticipated conclusion." --School Library Journal

About the Author

Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion.

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Format: Hardcover
Actual rating – 2.5 stars

Given to the Sea had a lot of potential but for me personally, it fell short of delivering on that.

The author has built an entirely new world for this story, and while it is impressive and very well thought out, there is a lack of description and actual in-story world-building. As a reader you are essentially just thrown into this world with very little explanation of what the terms used mean and how the world works. I found it to be a little too disjointed. I couldn't fully immerse myself into the story because I couldn't picture the world properly or understand how it all works and how the different lands and races interlocked.

There are a lot of unexplained things and unanswered questions from the onset and though many of these do get answered, it isn't until much later in the book. I'm not talking about mysteries connected to the story here, I'm talking about simple details related to the world they live in. For example, in Witt’s first chapter (page 11) he explains how he sent his mother and young brothers off to their deaths in boats to the sea, yet we’re not told why. I'm expected to understand his struggle and why it is required of a man in his position, yet I'm given no explanation? I have to wait until much later in the book (around page 191) to learn that it is those of his kind who ‘can no longer be of use to their people’ who are sent willingly to die at sea. Although I now know why it happens, so many chapters have passed that I no longer care and it's not relevant anymore. Why didn't the author just explain that back on page 11 when it was first mentioned?

There are also a load of questions left unanswered.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterfully Written. 13 April 2017
By Jackie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ever since I stumbled upon "A Madness So Discreet" last year, I have devoured every book Ms. McGinnis has written, impatiently waiting the release of every subsequent book. Ms. McGinnis' writing is so riveting, no reader would guess that this was her first venture into the fantasy genre. Not only was the story interesting and unique, I loved the alternating chapters. What makes them even more unique is that each one is written in a different point of view (some are first person, others third). The dedication to maintain this flow is astounding! If you want to know what good writing is, pick up any one of Ms. McGinnis' books, you will not be disappointed!

The only thing I don't agree with is having to wait for the next book! Wonderful job Ms. McGinnis!
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It! 21 April 2017
By Dayna Lamb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
AMAZING!!! When can I expect the sequel???
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review for Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis 11 April 2017
By Alyssa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

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.)


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.
2.0 out of 5 stars This Sea Couldn't Rise to Meet My Expectations 16 April 2017
By Austine @ NovelKnight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to love Given to the Sea SO so much. I mean an all-consuming love for a book that I knew was going to be magical and original and all things right with the world. And I think my expectations were a bit too high.

Let's start with the basics: the multiple points of view. It's common enough in fantasy, not a shocker. But when you do that, ALL the characters need to be strong and I just don't think the members of this cast pulled their weight equally. You have Khosa and Vincent, both told in first person PoV, who seem to be the major players while the other two appear in third PoV and are more designated as secondary. Was that the intention? I don't know, but I didn't care about the characters equally and, in fact, I didn't really about any of the characters at all.

This is a struggle because I've read another book by this author (The Female of the Species) where the characters were SO strong and yes, I can't compare books especially in different genres but it's hard having read both to not see the differences. I felt like the author focused so much on this unique idea of the Given and these different cultures and her unique way of telling the story because, yes, this book was not like any fantasy I've read before. But in all that, I felt the characters suffered, and even the world-building.

Given to the Sea has such a rich, beautiful world it's situated in but you barely get a glimpse. You see more of the people and I've established that I wasn't a fan of that so that doesn't bode well. But the world had issues too. We talk about problematic books and I was a bit surprised that an entire group of people had disabilities and were seen as lesser for it. The Indiri are seen as uncultured and their entire race save for two people wiped out. The Pietra send any who are remotely weak, body or mind, to die at sea. The Stillean are the "perfect" people. Though the book addresses some of these characteristics, I can't say it sat well with me.

Also, if you are triggered by rape, there is both discussion and a pretty detailed scene so fair warning.

Now back to those characters. This book featured romance that seemed to wind its way through most of the characters which was crazy but alright. Let's see how that goes. Well... we got a love triangle-square thing. I don't even know. It was a mess and felt completely unnecessary. And in the middle is Khosa who can't bear human touch because of her genes but has to get pregnant to fulfill her destiny and I'm just sitting here like WTF is actually happening.

Honestly the whole plot was like that. You have Khosa, Vincent, and Dara (3 of the 4 PoVs) at the castle along with Dara's twin Donil. And they're just chillin' there dealing with their angsty emotions. And then there's Witt who's supposed to be heartless but isn't completely leading an army in the fringes but they don't really accomplish anything in the end so his character and most of the others didn't hold much weight for me.

This book was all over the place. I was never grounded in the world and never connected with the characters. And for a fantasy, that's really important to me. Perhaps I'm harsher about this genre than others because I read it more frequently than most but my expectations were high and this Sea couldn't rise to meet them.
4.0 out of 5 stars Given to the Sea is a well-rounded fantasy that will leave you feeling uneasy. 17 April 2017
By Amber Elise @ Du Livre - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Review based on review copy

4 stars

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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