The Abyss Surrounds Us Synopsis: 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. – Goodreads
The Abyss Surrounds Us Review
First off, look at that cover. Is that not a gorgeous cover?! I judged this book totally on its cover. I saw it and instantly went “I want! I want!” I’m happy to report the book was just as good as the cover promised it’d be!
This was a book that was a pleasure to read. Sometimes a book can be good, but a hundred pages in it feels like a thousand, and you struggle to keep reading even though you are genuinely liking what you read. Then there’s books like this where a hundred pages feels like only twenty, and you’re done before you’re ready to be done. Is it perfect? No. But its a story that gives us a believable teenage heroine, sea monsters, and life on a pirate ship. So, in this case, I say perfection is over-rated anyway.
Emily Skrutskie has a way with descriptions, and this book plays inside your head like a movie on the big-screen. The initial battle in the beginning was very easy to visualize, and absolutely heartbreaking. The battles after that are violent without being loaded with gore. The author gives you just enough of the descriptions of blood gushing, pain, et cetera, to make it clear what exactly is happening without going overboard on it.
Cassandra (Cas) is a character that is very easy to feel sympathy for, and The Abyss Surrounds Us is a fantastic introduction to her. Its definitely an introduction, though, because even though The Abyss Surrounds Us does stand as an independent story, it feels like merely the lead-in to an epic series. Merely might be the wrong word, as there was nothing about this story that was ‘mere’. Its more a tantalizing bite of a main course you’re aching to sample.
Overall, The Abyss Surrounds Us is a very well-written debut novel from Emily Skrutskie, and one to be celebrated not only for the sea monsters, but for further injecting diversity into the Young Adult literary world in the form of a non-white protagonist, but also the deft touch of the casual normality of a same-sex attraction.
“Well, I have a fat baby sea monster, but Bao doesn’t tell jokes, and somehow I need that.”
“It helps when you vent your issues,” I say with a shrug. “Your shitty life distracts me from my shitty life. Its a win-win.”