Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
Published: February 8th, 2016
Publisher: Flux
288 pages (eARC)
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop.

Pirates and sea monsters and kickass girls OH MY! The Abyss Surrounds Us was my first read of 2016; it’s rare to start the year with a book that’s so amazing and sets such a high standard you’re afraid all other books will pale in comparison, but that’s what this book has done. It’s been a long time since I read something that captured my complete attention the way The Abyss Surrounds Us did. The story played out like a movie in my mind with every detail sharp and real and larger than life.

This book is full of great characters. I was surprised how quickly and easily I was sucked into the story and then I realized it was Cas’s voice. There’s just something about her, and I spent the entire book feeling like I was hanging on her every word and action. She’s strong, smart, passionate, and funny, and she felt so real. She started out seeming like a regular girl - mind you, a regular girl who risks her life every day dealing with sea monsters - and then morphs into this badass girl living among ruthless pirates and doing whatever it takes to survive, even when it means crossing into a grey moral area. The other characters in the book were equally real; I was immediately intrigued by Swift and terrified by Santa Elena. Every character served a purpose.

The romance wasn’t as much a part of the story as I’d expected/hoped, but it was done so perfectly I didn’t mind. Cas’s sexuality was another part of this story that made it unique: she was gay, but there was no coming out, it wasn’t an issue or an obstacle, it was just part of who she was, and I loved that so, so much. Don’t get me wrong, I will always support coming out stories, but I’ve been desperate for books where a character is gay and out and their orientation isn’t part of the story’s conflict. Cas and Swift’s relationship was complicated for so many reasons, but they had sizzling chemistry, and there were moments that were sweet and funny and achingly beautiful. I loved the push and push, the will-they-won’t-they, the tentative alliance, then friendship, then budding feelings.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a pretty damn near perfect debut from Emily Skrutskie. It’s original, compelling, and had me gripping my ereader in a white-knuckled grasp through at least half the book. I can’t wait to see what happens in the second book!

Have you read The Abyss Surrounds Us? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you read science fiction? Have a favourite book about pirates or sea monsters?

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds crazy! What a wild idea for a story. I'm glad you loved it so much. I hope your future reads are great too and that this one doesn't ruin them for you.


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