Book Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back – by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep #2

Fantasy, YA

Wednesday Books; September 3, 2019

303 pages (Paperback)

4 / 5 ✪

Delayed thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the ARC!

I won an ARC from a contest I tooootally forgot about until it came in the mail! This did not affect my thoughts on it and all opinions are my own. I also want to mention that although this is set in the same world as Sky in the Deep, it’s not a direct sequel. And as I’ve not yet read Sky in the Deep—you don’t need to read it to pick up the thread of this one.

Tova lives among the Svell, and has for as long as she can remember. But she hails from somewhere else. She bears the tattoos of the Kyrr—the mysterious people from the Headlands—specifically those that mark her as a Truthtongue, one specially born to read and tell the future. Halvard is preparing to become leader of the Nādhir, having been chosen by all the village Tala. And yet with war looming before them, Halvard and Tova are set on a blade’s edge.

Tova has never really had a people of her own—not that she can remember, at least. Meanwhile, Halvard is surrounded by a loving family; some of his blood, but all are now his kin. Both must fight to protect both themselves, and the ones they love most. But for one such as Tova, who can see what fate has in store—there can be no surprises. That is, until there are.

First off, I really enjoyed this one. I don’t read a ton of YA, but I was a little surprised regarding the amount of blood and death here. Yet as I read a lot of Dark Fantasy and such—didn’t bother me.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back is written from a pair of perspectives. Tova and Halvard chapters are told in 1st PPOV, interchanging between one and the other. Additionally, there are 3rd PPOV flashbacks, also following our two stars. Young’s writing is very descriptive; smooth and flowing, with only slight slip-ups that fail to detract for any real time. Both POVs are incredible, and I really felt immersed in the characters and the story she wove (I enjoyed Tova’s more than Halvard’s by a slight degree, but I loved them both, so).

But as this is the book’s greatest success, it brings its greatest flaw, too. With the alternating chapters, the alternating perspectives, I soon lost sight of whose story I was reading. To combat this, I started taking breaks between POV chapters, which in turn slowed everything down. Thus, the immersion of still great, but it quickly became frustrating to have to mentally disengage after each chapter. I still finished the Sea Gave Back pretty quickly, something I credit to the writing more than anything.

Other than the combat and blood, the only thing that surprised me was the romance. I’ve heard that the romance in Sky in the Deep between Eelyn and Fiske was one of its strongest elements. The same cannot be said of whatever is between Halvard and Tova. I’m not sure what I’d call it, but “hot and heavy” wouldn’t even be close. “Romance” even seems a stretch. There seems to be something between the two of them, but that’s about it.

The ending (spoiler free) is… a bit open, to say the least. I’m not saying that nothing’s resolved or that there’re holes or loose threads, it’s more… it’s open to interpretation. So much so that even three- or four-plus readers may have radically different interpretations depending on what the story meant to them. If you’re the type of reader where everything has to be cut-and-dry come the close… well, this might not sit well with you.

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