PROMISING STORY FAILED BY CHARACTERS | REVIEW OF ‘GIVEN TO THE SEA’ (GIVEN DUET #1)

given to the sea review

Khosa is Given to the Sea, born to be sacrificed to the water for the Kingdom of Stille. Sacrificed by her own feet, a twitching within her that will drive her to the depths of the ocean. But before that, she must produce an heir, an act she is unable to endure as she is unable to endure the touch of any human. But when her village is attacked, Khosa flees to the heart of the kingdom, into the arms of Vincent, the third in line to the throne, and Donil, the last of the Indiri whose touch sends desire through hers. But with the land sinking, and enemies at the gate, Stille and Khosa are in bigger danger than they ever thought.

Published April 11, 2017, by Putnam’s Children, Given to the Sea
by Mindy McGinnis is the first in her new YA fantasy Given Duet series.

The premise of the novel itself is very interesting, but the biggest problem this novel suffers from is character development. It’s not even that the characters are unlikeable, well except for one. At first glance Dara seems like a very strong female character, she’s a warrior and devoted to her prince and brother. However, once Khosa enters the picture the green-eyed monster takes over her and turns her into a very unlikable character, she becomes petty to the point where she’s rude, she’s careless, and she’s vindictive. She’s just not likable at all and that’s probably one of the biggest turn offs of the novel because one-third of the novel takes place in her perspective. The context offers up a point of view where the author intended to make her a scorned lover, verging on the sympathetic, but it doesn’t work out at all. By the end of the novel, the reader wants nothing to do with her.

As for the other characters, Donil is as charming as could possibly be and Vincent is as sympathetic as Khosa. Both of the characters have no control over their lives and they are dealing with it as best as possible. Their circumstances don’t necessarily allow them to develop, for much of the novel they remain the same. In fact, they don’t really develop at all. By the time the book has begun they’ve made peace with their fates’ even if they continue to fight against it within their inner narrative. That is the same for all the characters in the novel, they just move through the novel in a straight line, and that’s it.

However, there is one character the story could do without, and that’s Witt, other than invading Stille, his character serves no purpose at all. He seems honorable at times, but, much like with everyone else, there is absolutely no character development at all.

The story itself does have promise. There are a lot of inner workings in the novel, schemes here and there that allow the story to flow and grow on its own. There’s definitely promise for the sequel to see how the characters may have changed and how the dynamics might as well, but for this novel, right now the characters are, for the most part, lackluster and some of them are just not likable. (★★★☆☆ C+)

About the Author

Cynthia Ayala

I am a current resident of Boston, MA studying Creative writing at Emerson College, but more than that, I want to Publish, work for a newspaper as a critic and be a literary agent.

My true passion above everything is reading fantasy novels. The Harry Potter series is my favorite series to date. They really got me into reading and started me onto this path that I love so much.

If you are a writer and have a short story you would like published let me know. You can send me a query letter at: cynthia_ayala@emerson.edu. Make sure the subject line says “Query: Blog Short Story“. I would like a quick synopsis and if i find it interesting I will ask for the full manuscript. Make sure that it is in manuscript format or I won’t even bother. In the industry formatting really matters. PDF or Word Document are allowed as an attachment.

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