I feel like while I enjoyed this book, I don't think I loved it as much as I wanted to, especially since I loved McGinnis's last book.

Hello everyone!

I am back with a book review for another book by a favourite author of mine, Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

The story follows Khosa, a girl who was born to die. She was born to be given to the sea (I see what you did there, McGinnis), an ancient practice that is believed to prevent the waters from overtaking the kingdom on its banks. The story is told in a few perspectives, Khosa's most frequently and in first-person, third in line for the crown of the kingdom of Stille, Vincent, also told in first-person, Dara, one of the last Indiri and adopted sister to Vincent - told in third-person, and Witt, the leader of the Pietra, a group of warrior soldiers who are marching to take over Stille. Khosa cannot be Given until she produces a daughter to follow in her own footsteps one day and after the village where she is being taken care of is taken by the Pietra, she is brought to the kingdom. With the tides rising and the sea as ruthless as ever, the people of Stille are ready for Khosa to be given. But she cannot bear the touch of anyone else, let alone produce a child and must come up with a way to escape her destiny or be the last of the Given if she cannot have a child.

This book deals with a lot of elements and I think that is where things go downhill for me. On the surface, the book sounds really interesting and I was very intrigued. But I think there was just too much going on for me to enjoy it fully.

I enjoyed McGinnis's writing style and the way she weaves the story, I've read all her other books and that has never been a problem for me.

I liked the storyline of Stille and the Given. This idea that a girl has to be sacrificed to save the kingdom, and the cycle is inescapable was really interesting to me. McGinnis does a good job of explaining why this needs to be done but also why it might not be as necessary as it is to be believed to be.

A major element of this book is looking at fact versus fiction and the idea that things may not be as we remember and books filled with history were written by people who probably had an agenda, wanting to portray some things in certain ways and other things in others. Without getting into spoilers, I will just say that some things are discovered and many begin to question whether or not the Given are of any benefit or if it is just a coincidence that the water has yet to overtake Stille.

The story also deals with a bit of magic, a group of outcasts called Fennan possesses some, as well as Dara and her twin brother Donil and Khosa in her dance to the sea. I liked the element of magic added and that McGinnis didn't weigh the story down trying to explain why magic was the way it is, like in other books I've read. I suppose the magic is a larger part of the story, but I pretty much accepted it as mainstream fairly early on.

I also enjoyed the few more modern elements added in throughout the book, usually dealing with femininity. It's made clear early on that the sea will not accept a child born of violence and force, though we do see some impatience from Vincent's father. There are also mentions of how Vincent's mother, while the Princess by blood cannot rule, it is her husband who is royal by marriage who can control. Just little things like that that aren't often included in fantasy books that I enjoyed.

There were a few things I didn't love in the book, however. I think it's mainly because things weren't as clearly described as it could have been. Like the concept of the Pietra. I get who they are and what they were doing but I'm still not sure why they were marching for Stille. It's quite possible that that detail was included and I just missed it, but I think in general, it could have been clearer.

I think my other issue with this book was that I don't really know a lot about what was going on. The world building wasn't where I think it could have been to help me fully understand what was going on, and I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I liked Vincent and Khosa for the most part, but I wasn't invested enough to care about many other characters.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and will be reading the sequel, but I can see why some people have a hard time with it.