This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
✨ The Girl The Sea Gave Back came out September 3rd! ✨
Hello everyone, and welcome to the fifth day of this wonderful blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the other stops too 🙂 ❤
Title: The Girl The Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 3 September 2019
Length: 320 pages
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.
This is a sequel to Sky in the Deep, set 10 years in the future.
This book was definitely darker than Sky in the Deep. Whereas the prequel (to me) reflected a more hopeful outlook and focused on the rebirth/regenerating of its characters, family roots, and a deep-set tradition, leaving you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, this one just felt like it was enveloped in a fog of despair with nowhere to go.
Which is not a bad thing. The gloomy, grey atmosphere made it feel like a true Viking tale, with the author really pushing her characters into violent and inhuman situations. It dug deep into the most gruesome of Nordic customs and was unapologetically morbid. I loved the casting of stones!
It made me bright-eyed to see so many familiar faces from the previous books, some of which I had completely fallen in love with and was missing terribly. I was only sad to see so little of them!
The one thing I was most surprised about was how I ended up so emotionally invested in some of the side characters. Each plays a key role in the story, but we aren’t really told that much about them. So how did they manage to invoke all kinds of emotion within me, especially towards the end? Who knows, but I’m not complaining!
I felt I couldn’t get into the story no matter how hard I tried; not like I did when I first started Sky in the Deep (I also apologise beforehand for comparing the two so much, but it’s inevitable).
I think two of the problems were the world-building and plot. We’re introduced to the former back in the first book, and the author did expand it further, which was great. However, it just felt like the exact same story. Different characters, different clans, different setting, but the conflict was all too similar to go unnoticed.
The other problem might have to do with the dual POV. In Sky in the Deep, we only had access to Eelyn’s POV and that seemed to both raise the stakes and the mystery factor. If we go in knowing exactly what is going on on the other side, then it just doesn’t feel as exciting. Another issue I had with this was the fact that once Tova’s chapters ended and Halvard’s began (or vice-versa), they sometimes intersected one another so we were faced with the same exact scene from a different perspective. It just got a bit repetitive and unnecessary, which in turn made it feel sluggish.
I was able to connect with Tova a lot more than with Halvard, and I just didn’t find his chapters all that engaging. His personality just didn’t feel as fleshed out and she seemed to go through a lot more character growth than he did. After finishing the book, I still feel as though I didn’t really know him at all and he left no real mark in me.
This is such a shame because I know he’s Young’s favourite character from the previous book and she really wanted to tell his story. But I also know how much she struggled with The Girl The Sea Gave Back – she was not in a great place when she was working on it, and actually forced herself to rewrite the entire thing before turning it in to her publisher.
This is something that I felt while reading it; the despondent, overcast feel it gives off is no coincidence. It came from the very depths of her being. So while it has that disconnection to it, I also can’t help but appreciate how raw it is and how much of Young is infused on the pages at the time of her writing it.
It pains me to write this review as I was completely enamoured with Sky in the Deep and will rave about it until the day I die – unfortunately, The Girl The Sea Gave Back did not give me that same experience, or even close to it.
The dual POV didn’t exactly help, and while I did feel connected to Tova in many ways, Halvard just didn’t speak to me all that much. The story felt a bit repetitive and the conflict too similar to the prequel to excite or interest me.
While I enjoyed the introduction of the new clans and their stories, the extremely desolate Viking aura, and the surprisingly interesting side characters, the actual plot wasn’t able to distinguish itself from the one of the previous book and that gave The Girl The Sea Gave Back a somewhat predictable and dull quality.
Overall, I’m disappointed in this book. But I know what Young is capable of, as she blew me away with her debut, so I’m not at all disappointed in her. I’m so proud she managed to finish a book that was so hard to write and I’m super excited about her new project, Fable! Simply cannot wait.