Book Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Posted August 6, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Given to the Sea

Given to the Sea

by Mindy McGinnis

Series: Given Duet #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons on April 11, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Target Age Group: New Adult, Young Adult
Content Warnings: Abandonment, Ableism, Death, Death of Parent, Murder, Pregnancy, Rape, Sexual Assault

Rating: ★★½

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Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.


Given to the Sea is a bit of an underwhelming book. There was something to the language in the dialogue that reminded me of Shakespeare – at once lyrical, pondering, and riddling. But the story itself didn’t hold up to the twists and turns in the writing, and by the time I finished the book, I was happy to see it gone.

There are four POVs in Given to the Sea, but of all the characters (POV or otherwise) only one of them stood out with any kind of interest of variety. Dara was the most developed of the characters, principally because she actually had emotions that bled through the page. Not a lot, but there was a trickle, and most of it was bottomless anger. Otherwise? I found the characters shallow and unmotivated. Each one seemed to have a prime directive intended to color their behaviour. This worked well in another of McGinnis’s books (The Female of the Species) but makes a fantasy feel lacking.

There’s clearly interesting mythology behind this world, particularly with the Indiri, but McGinnis only barely explores it. In fact, the world and plot alike feel stretched too thin. There is a regiment battling their way through the land, the magic pulling Khosa to the sea, Vincent’s ascent, the search for any other Indiri, the love triangle… quadrangle? There’s a lot going on. There’s also the community of the rejected that plays between the two warring (ish?) kingdoms that shows the deep ableism of the characters in the book. Also ageism.

Let’s not forget the attempted rape and obsession with impregnating Khosa. Which probably took up the greatest chunk of the book.

To be honest, Given to the Sea is a mess. McGinnis wanted to do too many things and as a result she did none of them well. Add the lack of interesting characters and the insufferable romance plot/subplot/who knows and the problematic society… this just isn’t worth pursuing. McGinnis’s thrillers are better (if not still extremely memorable), but I recommend steering clear of this fantasy duology.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★

Two and a Half Stars


Given to the Sea Will Be Donated

I think I simply expected a lot more from Given to the Sea.  The title and concept lends itself to a world filled with ocean magic but instead it was a little too spread out and lacking in anything… special, I guess.  It was a let down for me, although I am sure others would enjoy it.

This one I left on my cruise ship for the next person who is in the room, or to be added to the ship’s library.  I hope the new reader enjoys it more than I did!


If you knew your death could save your country, would you do it?  What type of proof would you require to know it was real and not just superstition?  Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!

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