THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: YA epic fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books / St. Martin’s Press
Release date: September 2019
Trigger warnings: none
(Review copy sent courtesy of St. Martin’s Press).
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is a new companion novel to SKY IN THE DEEP, previously written by Adrianne Young. The story focuses on Tova, a Truthtongue, and what happens when she washes up on the shore of a rival clan’s land. THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is a book that fans of the TV show Vikings will enjoy, and also those who like reading about interesting new cultures in YA novels.
Here’s a short summary taken from Amazon:
The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
First of all, I’d like to thank St. Martin’s for the review copy! The cover of THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is absolutely phenomenal, and I’ve already featured it in quite a few bookstagram photos. :)
I didn’t actually know that there was a prequel book before THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK until I decided to look up the author’s previous books. I was a little worried that I would need to read SKY IN THE DEEP before this one, but it turns out that you don’t need to have read it to understand what’s happening. So that was a plus!
I am such a fan of the fact that the author wove Norse and Viking cultures in the story of her book. I think that her writing was lyrical and charming, and it did read almost like a Norse history book. If you had told me that Tova was a real figure in Norse mythology, I would have believed you. I am such a huge fan of reading about the beliefs and mythology of different cultures, and Vikings have always been of great interest to me. I really appreciated that subtle nod and appreciation of the Norse culture in Young’s writings.
Alrighty. Honesty time, friends. So, as you all know by now, I am honest with every book that I review. I don’t believe in BS-ing through a review, but I also don’t believe in author-bashing or being unkind to the writer who has put so much love, care, and time into making their dreams a reality. My opinions are my own, and I will hopefully be diplomatic in presenting them to you.
To be completely honest, I DNF’ed this book about 50% of the way through. I’ve been dreading writing this review because I wanted so much to like this book. Like I stated above, I absolutely love Norse culture and I was quite excited about it. As much as I tried my hardest, I couldn’t get into the book.
It’s set between two POVs, Tova and Helvard’s. Apparently, they are connected by a prophecy. The thing is, they see each other like three times in the entire book. And I knew then that if there is supposed to be a slow-burn romance happening, then I do except a romance to happen. The aforementioned romance was pretty non-existent. It’s hard to care for someone when you don’t really see them at all in the story. Plus, it was very hard for me to differentiate between Tova and Helvard’s POVs. At times, they sounded so much like the same person, that it was hard for me to figure out what was happening. That brings me, unfortunately, to my next point. As is the case with most mythology, there are many name-drops, whether it be people, gods, or clans. My problem with TGTSGB was that the different names sounded so similar that I kept getting confused as to which clan we were talking about, and which people were on which side. I felt like I, personally, couldn’t connect with Tova because her character was rather static. I didn’t get a sense of her uniqueness, and as much as I wanted to root for her and like her, I found myself wishing for hints of her personality or her character.
While I did indeed DNF this book, I did enjoy other aspects of it. The battle scenes played out very much like an epic film scene, and I could imagine a cinematic score being played along to them. Also, the uniqueness of the book’s concept is one to be commended on, because I have never read a Viking culture-inspired YA book before.
Even though I did DNF THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK, I was really sad that I did. I think that I may read SKY IN THE DEEP soon and see if that helps me get through TGTSGB if I maybe know a bit more about the background of the story. I am actually giving THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK three stars because the concept was brilliant, the writing was readable and flowing, and the battle scenes were pretty darn good. I think that with a good re-edit and adding to Tova and Helvard’s characters to make them more unique and personable, THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK has the potential to be an incredible epic fantasy book, even with future TV show possibilities.
As always, I encourage my readers to read books for themselves to form their own opinions on it. Please give THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK a try, and let me know what you think of it!
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK receives 3 stars out of 5.