I read Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (book 1 in this duology) when it came out back in 2017. It was one of the first books I ever received in my FairyLoot subscription and I became totally enamoured with the world featured in the story. As part of my 2020 reading mission to finally tick off some of those unfinished series, Given to the Earth was put on the August TBR list.
I originally intended to reread the first book in the series before attempting the finale however, with many books piling up on my shelves I settled for just reading the last few chapters of book one before embarking on the sequel. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead for Given to the Sea, so if you haven’t read that yet and intend to… approach with caution!
Book: Given to the Earth
Series: Given Duology
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA | Fantasy
Publication Date: 10th April 2018
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Duty, fate, desire, and destiny collide in this intricately wrought tale, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.
Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa’s marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she’s untouchable. But being Queen hasn’t stopped her heart from longing for the King’s stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn’t stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.
While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra’s leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri.
As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.
OK, first off I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room with this series: the narration.
The Given duology is told from the perspectives of around 6 different characters. Some of the characters have 1st person narration so we read the chapter directly through their eyes; the rest feature third person narrations and we witness the events as an outsider to the story. Although there are character headings at the start of each chapter, there is no pattern as to who talks when and the constant flipping between narrative voices has been a bone of contention between some readers. For me, I wasn’t particularly bothered or distracted by this. Did it make me feel more distanced and less connected to some characters…? Yes, especially coupled with such short chapters. However, it clearly wasn’t enough to put me off reading this sequel and finding out how the story set up in Given to the Sea ended.
The main reason I liked this duology was for three very specific creatures/beings that form part of Given’s world.
> The Tangata cats are vicious and travel in packs called clowders. They are feared by many but the feature of one Tangata cat was a particularly memorable aspect of the story.
> The Indiri are a race of people, of which only the twins Dara and Donil remain. They have spotted skin like that of leopards and have magic that can connect with the earth and nature. I found them to be really intriguing characters and it was Dara’s narrative that I was especially drawn to in this sequel. Her journey, after the events of the first book, leads her upon an unexpected path which kept me guessing as to how it was going to be resolved.
> Finally, the Hadundun trees which soak spilled blood from the earth and have razor sharp leaves were such curious additions. It is their role within the story that ends up shaping certain character’s actions and consequences.
It is these creations which mostly drew me into this series and made me want to read until the very end. Their presence makes the vaguely medieval-style setting come alive and is one of my favourite aspects of the whole duology.
The plot itself was fairly straightforward. In dealing with the aftermath of the events from book 1, the characters now need to find a way to either deal with the consequences or find an escape. At first, this seems like a fairly simplistic trajectory, but typical complications along the way result in a tension-building, action-packed resolution with some shocking twists that I wasn’t quite expecting! There is tragedy, which I probably would have been more heartbroken over had I built a deeper relationship with the characters, but it still feels as if the author was prepared to take some risks with how certain characters fared during the ending of this series and I have respect for McGinnis in doing that.
Overall, Given to the Earth was a very satisfying end to a series which keep me guessing and entertained until the very end.
Why Should I Read This?
For: intriguing creatures and beings which make a plain(ish) world quite unique.
For: a love triangle where you genuinely don’t know which one you’re really rooting for.
For: a fulfilling and enjoyable (and in one case – brave!) ending to a series.
If you enjoyed Given to the Sea then you’ll probably be content with the ending to this series. It’s a hard duology/book to review and describe – a little vanilla, but the good kind…with the bean, and I definitely like it!
Find out more about this book here: