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Early Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

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The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie // VBC ReviewThe Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1)
Emily Skrutskie
Published: Feb. 8, 2016 (Flux)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Margaret

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a truly original take on the pirate story! It’s a contemporary, though alternate, world filled with diverse characters, including many women in authority positions. I was just fascinated by it and finished in practically a single sitting.

Some kind of cataclysm flooded the Earth, creating smaller continents. Countries divided into smaller, more manageable areas. But some land masses drifted out to sea, unclaimed by any country. Those became havens for pirates, who thrive in the new ocean-driven world. To defend against the pirates, several countries worked together to develop the Reckoners, sea monsters created Jurassic-Park-style from the DNA of different creatures. Each ship now has a Reckoner escort and carries a Reckoner trainer.

Cassandra Leung grew up in the Reckoner industry, her mother a scientist who breeds them and her father a trainer. She’s worked her entire life to be a trainer herself. But her first solo mission goes horribly wrong. Her Reckoner is killed and Cas is captured by pirates.

Captain Santa Elena wants to rule the seas. She’s obtained her own unhatched Reckoner and she’ll let Cas live if she raises it and trains it to defend the pirate ship. I love that the pirate captain is a strong, successful woman, even if she’s also a ruthless one. And I liked the supporting cast led by Santa Elena’s four teenaged protégés.

Cas justifies her decision to stay and train their bootleg Reckoner by thinking she’ll be able to find their industry source and stop it. But eventually, predictably, she begins to sympathize with the pirates and question her own beliefs. While her emotional journey mostly followed the path I expected, I was still surprised where Cas wound up at the end of the book.

The Reckoner battles are magnificent, both as action scenes and in the way that they let Cas shine. (I would love to see this book become a movie!) I really only have a few minor complaints. I thought the “inside source” of the stolen Reckoners was too obvious, which made me want to smack Cas a little. And I wish that the details about how the Earth changed were not so vague.

Still, I’m excited that The Abyss Surrounds Us looks like the first in a series. I can’t wait to see where Cassandra goes from here!

Sexual content: kissing

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