April 3, 2017 by Zoë
The Kingdom of Stille lies at the mercy of the sea, which is why a girl must be sacrificed in order to prevent the sea from completely engulfing the kingdom. In Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis, Khosa is one such girl, ready to be given to the sea as soon as she has had a child. But it seems that before she is ready the sea may already swallow the kingdom. As forces gather around her with their own motivations, Khosa must try to discern what it is that she wants.
The world in this book is fascinating. There are rival groups of people, including a whole race that has been reduced to two people possessing magic. It was really fun trying to learn more about the world and figure out how everything works (especially, and most perplexingly, what is going on with the ocean?). While the world building was not explored deeply, making for confusing reading at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed the interesting details, especially once I was a bit further into the book and felt more solid about what was going on.
The book is told through multiple viewpoints, which worked for the most part, at least in terms of giving lots of perspectives on the action. I could have done without the shifts between first and third person, but overall I liked being able to see what was happening in different place in the kingdom. Again, though, this was a little confusing in the beginning before I’d worked out who everyone was.
There was a weird love triangle/square thing that I felt distracted from the plot. I’m not interested in stories where characters go back and forth and can’t figure out their feelings for this person and for that person and why don’t I just have both while I figure it out? The points where the book sunk into this back and forth were very annoying, serving to add only a tiny bit of unnecessary drama and to add to the twist at the end unnecessarily.
Some of the magical aspects were also confusing. Without revealing spoilers, Khosa’s parentage plays an important part in the plot. However, when it was explained, I didn’t really understand the implications. They were explained a bit, but I’m still a little confused as to how much characters can control their own actions and how much they are at the uncontrollable whims of their nature. (Which maybe is the point? But I found it frustrating.)
Despite a certain amount of confusion on my part while I was reading, I’m really excited to read the next book in this series. I really enjoyed the world and the mysterious part the sea plays within it. There’s a lot to be discovered and this was a great beginning to set up everything and find out what comes next.
She 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.”
I received an electronic copy of this book through Edelweiss for this review.