The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
by Emily Skrutskie
Published on February 8, 2016 by Flux
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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 adventures, this YA fantasy was everything I hoped for and more, and I can’t believe I put off reading it.
In this futuristic alternate universe, the world’s seas are overrun with pirates and to protect the innocent ships, science has created Reckoners — giant monsters trained to defend their charges during their voyages. Okay, let’s stop there because GIANT. SEA. MONSTERS. Sold. Right there.
But the story is so much more than that. This book felt like a fantasy but had a lot of science scattered throughout. You’re introduced to the story in the midst of a scene and given just enough to go on before the story progresses. The world-building was a delicate balance that fed all my fantasy-loving needs while also not bogging the story down too much.
And this is probably one of my new favorite worlds. I thought the idea of the Reckoners was so original and the world both brand new but similar enough to make it seem like a plausible future for our world (which is both scary and cool). Plus, the biologist in me would love to be a Reckoner trainer. That would be SO AWESOME.
Speaking of Reckoner trainers, I loved Cas. She’s young but strong and has her flaws, yet doesn’t let them stand in her way. She does what it takes to survive among the pirates and definitely isn’t the same person she started out as upon her capture.
The rest of the cast was distinct without being overwhelming. This ship has a decently large crew but the characters didn’t overwhelm the story with their own subplots. I loved the captain. I need a prequel about her because that has got to be an amazing story in itself. And then there’s Swift.
Swift was great. She’s gruff and standoffish but has a lot more beneath the surface that really brings her character to life. And Skrutskie knows exactly when to reveal each tidbit for maximum impact.
Though I’ve seen some talk against the romance in this book, I really loved it and shipped Cas and Swift from their first meeting. Theirs is a relationship built on trust gained from aiding each other. It’s a slow romance but blooms beautifully by the end. And wow, that ending was rough for these two.
This book was a fast read. I finished it in roughly two hours and couldn’t believe that it was over already. I’m thankful to have the sequel because the end of The Abyss Surrounds Us wasn’t QUITE a cliffhanger but left enough of the story open to keep me wanting more.
Now this book wasn’t perfect. The writing was a bit rough at the beginning though I didn’t notice much once the story really picked up. And, at times, the story felt a tad rushed. But overall, this is a great fantasy that I think everyone needs to get their hands on! Can’t wait to see what Skrutskie does next in The Edge of the Abyss!