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.

goodreads-synopsis-2

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.

plot-banner

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.

characters-banner

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.

writing-final-thoughts-banner-2

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?

Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

30689335The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Published by: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery/Contemporary

Pages: 276 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 STARS)

Trigger Warning: suicide & sexual abuse

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Penguin’s First to Read & Amy Engel for the eGalley of The Roanoke Girls

 

goodreads-synopsis-2

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

plot-banner

I picked up The Roanoke Girls not knowing a thing about the plot or premise other than it was making waves in the blogosphere & sometimes that makes for the best possible reading experience. I’m glad I had no clue what I was getting into, this book definitely was dark & twisted with a bit of shock factor working for it. Told in first person point of view, the main protagonist Lane is living her life in NYC when she gets a call from her grandad letting her know that her cousin has gone missing & that she needs to come home. Lane reluctantly heads back to Roanoke, the one place she swore to never return to. There are a ton of secrets, mystery, hurt, and cover-ups in Roanoke that Lane can’t seem to escape. I immediately started asking myself questions as to what could possibly make Lane stay away from her grandparents home. She opted to leave to NYC where life is not at as easy as it would be if she’d stayed at Roanoke with her wealthy family. As the plot unravels you realize how deep the secrets go & that Lane is just one from generations of Roanoke women that can’t seem to escape the manipulation and abuse in the Roanoke home. I was not expecting this book to go the direction that it did & yes I am purposely being vague because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone trying to read it. It is the darkest book I’ve read to date and seriously made me question the psyche of these characters from all angles. The air of mystery is held throughout the book until the very end since we are from the very start trying to figure out what happened to Allegra? did she run away? or is she dead in a ditch somewhere like everyone thought she was fated to end up? & while Lane attempts to solve this mystery, we are also being exposed to the family secrets one by one…

characters-banner

I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a cast of characters this messed up smh. Our main protagonist Lane is carrying some serious baggage from childhood that stems back to her relationship with her mother. Lane’s mom fled Roanoke while pregnant with her but she never truly escaped her past & lived a life of sadness where she cried daily and couldn’t actually have a relationship with Lane. Her mom carried the Roanoke secrets buried deep within her & committed suicide when she was 15 which meant that Lane would be sent to live with her grandparents (next of kin) back at Roanoke. The book is told by a now adult Lane who has flashbacks to the summer she arrived at Roanoke after her mother committed suicide. We meet Allegra in the flashbacks & for those of you who have watched the show Pretty Little Liars, Allegra is the equivalent of Allison & that’s as close a comparison as I’ve ever seen one haha! She is energetic & oftentimes frenetic. Allegra is ecstatic to have Lane join them at Roanoke & we get to follow the girls that summer while they date & even fall in love. We also get to see how the extent of the abuse they’ve experienced affects their relationships with their boyfriends at the time. Lane considers herself unworthy and therefore sets out to destroy whatever good she comes across through toxic behavior. I am not kidding when I say EVERYONE in this book is messed up but the Roanoke girls have it the worse. Paraphrasing here but one of the characters actually mentioned that there are messed up families & then there’s reallllly messed up when he referred to Lane’s own family. They were all twisted enough to stay in my psyche for quite a bit, this book won’t be for everyone but I found these characters interesting & they kept me wondering at all hours of the night.

writing-final-thoughts-banner-2

The formatting of this book kept me completely captivated, alternating between the present & the summer Lane arrived in Roanoke was interesting enough. However, I also really enjoyed the excerpts written in third person POV for all of the Roanoke girls who suffered the same fate while living in the Roanoke household. I couldn’t put this book down for too long, I needed to find out the truth but also Lane felt like a loose cannon the majority of the time & I couldn’t keep my eyes from reading just to see what she would do next. A page turner that for sure will make you uncomfortable but I think this speaks to the authors skilled writing. This book won’t be for everyone however, I enjoyed it probably because I gravitate towards complex characters. Given, this is on a whole other level of complicated but still, it made me feel several emotions & that was enough for me to know that this was a solid read my bookish peeps 😉

Have any of you read The Roanoke Girls? If so, what are your thoughts? If you reviewed The Roanoke Girls, feel free to drop that link down below & i’ll swing by your corner of the inter-webs 😉