Mindy McGinnis has once again written a breathtakingly imaginative book with a story line that is too good to put down. Given to the Sea is the story of four nations, how they intertwine, the traditions they hold fast to, and how love can change it all.
The story centers around five main characters, each from different nations. Told through alternating perspectives, it outlines their reactions to a coming war, traditions that have survived for as long as anyone knows, and how they react to love that is not convenient, nor accepted by society.
Khosa is the main character that drives the story. She harkens back to the selkies of European tales. Born to be sacrificed to the sea gods, Khosa is physically drawn to the sea in a dance. But the people who depend on her to save them from the sea gods can’t let her go yet. She hasn’t had a baby to take her place.
Dara and Donil are the last of an ancient race of warriors. They can control nature and have supernatural powers. They carry the memories of all their ancestors. But what use is all of that if as brother and sister they cannot ensure the survival of their race?
The Feneen and Pietra are races as different as night and day. The outcasts of all races and a people that willingly sacrifice those who can no longer contribute to society to the sea creatures. An alliance has been formed, but will it last?
The book is sprinkled with imagination galore: people who sew themselves to wild animals as they have no legs, a bridge made out of humans standing on top of one another, a girl who can pull energy from nature and then when used release it back as a flock of butterflies. All this and more make the book a great read.
There are a few drawbacks. Some of the ancillary characters are not well-developed, and I would have love to have seen more time devoted to the development of the environment and the descriptions of daily life. The book definitely lends itself to a sequel and I feel that some of the beauty is lost with the scant details on the nations themselves. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending which seemed a bit contrived and hurried.
Overall the book is a good read. While in the fantasy genre, it isn’t overly magical and far-fetched. Those who like a good forbidden love story mixed in will enjoy.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Penguin
Profanity/Language: 9 mild obscenities, 2 derogatory names, 4 scatological words, and 2 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: Multiple instances of people drowning; army marches across hands of human bridge twice; woman crushes man’s skull with fire poker with images of brain matter and blood; numerous bumps, bruises, scrapes and cuts; fist fights resulting in broken noses (twice); flesh torn by bite of animal; numerous reports of death in battles, wars or accidents; report of a beheading; old and infirm are pushed out to sea to die in boats (three times); throat slit with graphic images of blood; warriors sew themselves to animals (no detail); beheading in battle (moderate detail); 3 page extended scene of a war scene with death, wounds and blood; graphic one page scene of sword being thrust through a man’s open mouth; two-page scene of attempted rape with nudity, injuries and death of one character.
Sex/Nudity: Hand holding, hug, kiss (five times); lewd gesture; numerous discussions on breeding of a female, having sex, sexual prowess, and affairs; two-page scene of attempted rape with nudity, injuries and death of one character.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, infidelity, social conflict, ethics, war, rape.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Alcohol use (mostly wine) by adults throughout book.