Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

25314447Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis

Published by: Putnam’s Children’s

Publication Date: April 11th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★ (3 STARS)

*Trigger warning for attempted rape & suicide

HUGE thanks to Putnam’s Children’s, Penguin’s First To Read, and Mindy McGinnis for the eGalley of Given to the Sea in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.


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.


The Goodreads Blurb for Given to the Sea gives a pretty detailed account of the plot and how all of the characters are tied together. So instead I’ll talk about some of the plot points and the things I enjoyed…

  • We start of our story with the main protagonist knowing that her whole existence is meant to serve as a sacrificial lamb to appease the Ocean.
  • Khosa (main protagonist) is no heroine jumping at the chance to save Stille and her people. She is also in no hurry to fulfill her role’s main requirement which is to bear a female child prior to being given to the sea.
  • Similar to many other stories of court life, we see politics at play. Khosa’s path does cross with that of the young prince who is 3rd in line to the throne.
  • While getting to know Khosa’s fears and wants, we are also introduced to other pivotal characters through multiple POV chapters.
  • Dara & Donil are Indiri brother & sister who were adopted since birth by the Prince’s mother. They lost their entire native race and since then have lived to protect those who took them in. The twins are feared by the people; known to have the ability to talk & walk from birth, they also possess certain abilities (a pretty cool superhuman ability lol) that make them excellent hunters.
  • We get introduced to the Pietra who pose a threat to Stille, the Pietra are led by Witt who obtained his rank or position by being the most fearless. Unlike in Stille, the elderly aren’t in positions of power. It’s up to Witt to cast away the elderly once they  can no longer physically contribute.
  • The Pietra however, aren’t the only threat to Stille who has yet to yield the Given to the ocean. A tradition that they believe is necessary in order to pacify the ocean & keep it from wiping them out completely.
  • I however, found the outside forces such as the Pietra to be the most interesting part of the story. There’s a bloody history tying the Indiri & the Pietra that was touched upon and think we will get more of in the sequel.


Our main protagonist Khosa is strong willed & full with the desire to live although her fate has been decided since birth. Born into the line of women that have all been sacrificed to the ocean as the Given, she appears to have accepted her fate. Internally however, Khosa is angry & despises the idea of being set to breed at all. She wants to save her people & Stille however, a part of her resents them all. There wasn’t anything about Khosa that stood out to me as a likable quality, then again I would be bitter too if I was existing only to be sacrificed. Prince Victor gave me Dorian from the Throne of Glass series vibes & I could take him or leave him. Just like with Dorian, I wasn’t a fan of this Royal. I was however, VERY intrigued by Dara & Donil who are the Indiri twins adopted as Victor’s siblings. I LOVED their relationship with one another & how fiercely loyal they are. I also loved that Dara is actually made out to be the more lethal & stronger one (YAY Girls Rule! lol). Witt, the leader of the Pietra is a character I didn’t feel much towards even though he’s written as having a struggle with morality. Whether it’s the years of sending elderly to their deaths in handmade boats, or the brutal murders he’s witnessed & committed himself…we are made to believe that he doesn’t enjoy any of it. I however, wasn’t able to feel any empathy towards this character since all throughout this book he carries on sending people off to their deaths. I was satisfied with most of the characters development since the multiple POV’s allowed me to see things from each character’s perspective. I did wish that Dara & Donil’s POV’s were actually separated in order to get more from Donil.


Given to the Sea is broken into multiple POV chapters, the focus being: Khosa, Victor, Dara, and Witt. As I mentioned before, Donil’s perspective is meshed in with Dara’s even though he has as big of an arc as Dara. I also struggled with half of these characters perspectives being told in first person while the other half is told in third person. Often times stopping while reading because of the awkwardness. It is the supporting characters and their histories that really drew me in and made for compelling story telling. The Indiri’s birth into this world was a bloody & painful one filled with loss & I found myself wanting to know more. I flagged this review for the following trigger warnings: attempted rape & suicide…the suicide is the “willing” sacrifice made by each of the women born to the lineage of the first given. There are also scenes of attempted rape that are a bit generous with the details. The reasoning behind the attempts is that the clock is ticking, the sea is angry, and the Given is not with child. Although I flew through this book,  found myself feeling uncomfortable with many parts. Some i’ve described in this review & others i’m still sorting my feelings on. Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable scenes for me, was one between a woman from a group of outcasts that is described as missing all of her limbs and one of Witt’s men. I won’t go into detail other than to say that I felt this character was very much sexualized because of  her missing limbs. This being my 1st Mindy McGinnis read, it’s clear to me that I may not be a fan of her Fantasy however, I am still very interested in her other books some of which I already own & will be reading later this year. Given to the Sea ended off possibly stronger than it’s slower start & for this reason alone, I will probably read the conclusion to this duology. I am attached to the Indiri twins and it is their story I would like to see to the very end 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read Given to the Sea? what are your thoughts on Mindy’s first full fledged YA Fantasy? did you connect with any of the characters like I did with the Indiri?

Author: LairOfBooks

"I didn't choose the Book Life, the Book Life chose me"

25 thoughts on “Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis”

  1. Great review! Yours is much more positive than mine was, hahaha. I agree that Donil and Dara were really interesting characters and I loved that Dara is the stronger/fiercer one of the two. I definitely want to see how their stories play out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lmao! I try my hardest to find redeeming qualities but even in being nice you just can’t hide the facts. I’m as honest as possible & I LOVED your review. We share the same thoughts in this one smh. The twins are what will make me p/u the conclusion to this duology. Thank you Kourtni 😃💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds interesting. Although it sucks that you really only connected with two characters. And I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book where it jumps from first person to third person. I feel like that would throw me off too. Not sure if this one I would enjoy. Either way, great review as always Lilly!! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Annie, I honestly had to vent 1st to another blogger who had read this title as well. The Indiri twins story is sooooo interesting and I loved their characters. Wish we had more from them and have a feeling there will be in the next book. I just couldn’t overlook how uncomfortable I felt reading certain scenes. 3 Stars from me is being nice, because it did have redeeming qualities just not enough 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review for this book Lilly. Also thanks for putting the trigger warning at the beginning, even if it is only attempted parts of this book may have been uncomfortable for me to read if I didn’t know about those aspects going into it. It’s a shame this wasn’t a better read for you. I know about sometimes authors writing styles not being for you so I hope you enjoy the other books by her you still have on your to-read list, and yeah I get what you mean about the POV changes, splitting between characters is hard enough but splitting from first to third person POV would be even more so in my opinion. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Beth! I’m usually very thick skinned and can get through tough scenes but these just seemed a bit too detailed not to put up a warning for those who may be triggered. I enjoyed a few aspects of the story, just not enough to rate it higher. I will def check out her other books since I’ve heard nothing but praises. This one I’m beginning to see, isn’t getting favorable ratings. The alternating 1st & 3rd POV seriously had me re-reading sentenced trying to figure out why they felt odd. Thank you for always stopping by 😃💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right, and yeah I’m the same. A lot of the time I’m thick skinned when it comes to books like this but it’s always nice to have the warning to be prepared for it as well. Oh well in that case hopefully you’ll enjoy her other books better, especially if you’re only hearing good things about them.
        It’s so the same to me too, skipping between POVs can be confusing enough if there are too many of them, skipping tenses is a whole other thing altogether.
        That’s all right! 😀 ❤


  4. Love the thorough review on this one! I think I mentioned recently that I was eyeballing it. Going to pass I think. You point out some scenes that I feel won’t necessarily agree with me. Given the story line I feel there has to have been a better way of handling them? I don’t upset easy, but almost get the impression they were overly graphic perhaps when it wasn’t needed. That is when they bother me most.

    I have to admit though that I cannot blame Khosa. What a bum deal huh? Lots of possible potential here for some maybe, but picking up the ‘not for me’ vibe. You always keep me clued in haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the scene I pointed out was as Kourtni @Kourtnireads said “gratuitous” in nature, It could have been less so given that it is Fantasy. I almost felt like it could easily be for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s works. It wasn’t overboard but it was much for the targeted audience. I’d say pass lol. Thanks Danielle 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome review twin and thanks for those trigger warnings! We’ve spoken about this in depth outside of the blogosphere. Sucks that it didnt work out as you wanted. Why do these underwater worldly books do this??? Definitely skipping cause you know.
    Hope you’re next read is that much more amazing bff ❤


  6. I’m so bummed this book wasn’t a hit. As you know her YA contemporary, The Female of the Species was one of my favorite books last year. Maybe she should stick to contemporary? I even had the opportunity to pick up a copy and have Mindy sign it last weekend and I passed because I have read negative review after negative review.

    Maybe had it just been about the Indiri twins? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am too Amanda smh, the story telling overall was good though. I wouldn’t say she shouldn’t give it another go cuz I did enjoy many parts. I LOVED the Indiri twins & I guess we’ll see what she does with the sequel, hope it’s a good ending *fingers crossed* Ok so like Kourtni mentioned in her review, there’s this feeling of overall fetishizing one of the female nomads who doesn’t have arms or legs…it truly made me feel uncomfortable. This is besides the gratuitous almost rape scene, so yea def some things she could’ve done w/out. I’ll still be reading Female of the Species, a book I already know is about a rape but I hear she handles well. Can’t win them all 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was only gonna read this one if it got amazing reviews, but yours and Kourtni’s and have definitely sealed the fact that I won’t be reading this. It’s a shame to hear how many issues this had because I LOVED Mindy McGinnis’ The Female of the Species book. It’s why I’m so shocked to hear that there was a rape scene in this seemingly done for shock value when she depicts rape culture so well in TFotS. Seems like a case of authors thinking they can get away with things because it’s “Fantasy” which, sigh. Great review, Lilly ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lauren! Sorry for the late reply, battling the stomach flu 😩 but yea I really wanted to LIKE this book at the least, the awkward scenes made that impossible. The sad part is that this being her first Fantasy book, it’s actually better than some others currently out on shelves. She can def spin a story, I just wish she had left certain things out 😖lol. Thank you for stopping by, I’ll still be reading Female of the Species of which I’ve heard only positive feedback 😉💕


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