Book Review: Given by Nandi Taylor

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Given
Author: Nandi Taylor
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
ISBN: 9781989365045

Synopsis from Goodreads:
As a princess of the Yirba, Yenni is all-but-engaged to the prince of a neighboring tribe. She knows it’s her duty to ensure peace for her people, but as her father’s stubborn illness steadily worsens, she sets out on a sacred journey to the empire of Cresh, determined to find a way to save him at any cost, even though failure could mean the wrath of her gods and ruin for her people. One further complication? On the day she arrives at the Prevan Academy for Battle and Magical Arts, she meets an arrogant dragon-shifter named Weysh who claims she’s his “Given”, or destined mate. Muscular, beautiful (and completely infuriating), he’s exactly the kind of distraction Yenni can’t afford while her father’s life hangs in the balance.

I’ll preface this with the same thing I say every time I need to write a bad review — I absolutely hate giving bad reviews because I know the effort and time it takes to write and produce a book. However, I am continually disappointed by the content that Wattpad Books puts out. I think it’s time that I start choosing to avoid this particular publisher. Given has an excellent concept — the description is really unique and I love the idea of the fantasy world that Taylor has built based on the synopsis. Unfortunately, the book itself did not live up to the expectations that I had going into this read.

Disjointed is the best word that I can use to describe the flow of this book. The plot moves at a jerky and halting pace, making it very difficult to read. There was little flow and often no transition between chapters and sections within chapters. It felt very broken and made the flow of time within in this world difficult to follow and often very confusion. There are sections of the writing that are strong and very interesting — particularly the focus on runelore and the protagonist, Yenni’s affinity for this particular strand of magic. There is a significant focus on runelore and its magical properties so that was a major plus. But the remaining plot elements felt too coincidental or expositional. There is a lot of “tell” rather than “show” going on in the writing, which created a sense of the story being a work of fanfiction rather than a fully developed novel.

Additionally, the characters are unfortunately just not believable. The dialogue is halting and rudimentary, often stating the obvious without allowing the reader to infer or interpret for themselves. It also seems like the majority of characters struggle with anger management issues. Everyone’s reactions are over the top and often violent and aggressive without cause. Characters motivations are often not known, or the motivation does not accurately match the reaction. For example, one antagonist comes from a difficult past, leading his present actions against the “good” characters to be violent and criminal, but there is no reason for him to dislike or antagonize these particular characters. He just doesn’t like them, so he relentlessly attempts to kill them. Fine, but it seems a little farfetched that he’d pursue these attacks on one particular character with such vehemence without provocation.

I wish I had something good to share with you for this one, but alas, it’s been the least enjoyable book that I’ve read in a really long time. I considered not finishing it, but I continued out of curiosity. The ending was not satisfying and was actually quite confusing. I felt as though there was no resolution. I get the feeling that perhaps it’s meant to be a series and we were supposed to be left with a cliff-hanger, but it just read like a final chapter had been forgotten. I will admit that I read an uncorrected proof, so it’s possible this has been fixed in the final version, but I won’t be seeking out the final book to confirm.

It saddens me that this isn’t one I can suggest to you, readers. But if you do read it, I hope your experience is better than mine.

Published by wornpagesandink

Hi! I'm Jaaron. I'm a book-obsessed blogger, writer, reader, coffee-drinker, and dog-lover. I have a B.A.H. in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Book and Magazine publishing. I've been fortunate to have worked in both trade and educational publishing. If you have any recommendations for excellent reads, let me know!

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