Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: February 8th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 2/11/16 to 2/14/16
288 pages

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.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I am incredibly pleased to have picked up The Abyss Surrounds Us, seeing that it wasn't exactly high on my list initially. But then, as I read the blurb, I just had to read it. The cover itself gave me Mass Effect feels, even though the setting itself didn't take place in outer space. But it did take place out at sea, and at a floating island, so close enough, right?

Cas is a Reckoner trainer, or one in training, in that she works on training these huge sea monster-like creatures. And what do these creatures do exactly? Well they defend ships from pirates, by imprinting on their ship and protecting it by smashing up the other ships. And you see, none of the pirates could get a hold of these Reckoners, since bringing them up is no easy task. Except for now, of course.

Or smashing into walls, I suppose
Which is why when Cas is captured by The Minnow, run exclusively by pirates, she knows she's done for. But instead of taking her own life, she meets Swift, a girl fighting to be next in line to be captain. Their relationship starts off a little rocky, but throughout the novel, the two of them learn to tolerate each other, which later turns into a strong bond of trust and loooooooove. The ship is here folks, on the pirate ship. Yep. And it's not like their relationship is all ooey-gooey either. Swift has to look out for herself, and so does Cas, but slowly, this transitions into the both of them looking out for each other.

And Cas is Cantonese! Or at least part? This story takes place way in the future where the geography is a little messed up due to rising sea levels, but Cas does mention her heritage at a point, and it made me happy~

Along with huge sea monsters, and epic ship battles, the story itself was fantastic and unique. Although the plot was a little slow-paced, there was no lack of character development. Did I mention that the f/f relationship was never made out to be weird or different? And never did Cas or Swift question their own sexuality, meaning that they already knew their sexuality or labels didn't really matter in their world. Either way, it was refreshing, especially since this rarely happens in science fiction or fantasy.

So did I convince you to read this? Because you definitely should. This features so many great things, from pirates to a wonderful f/f romance, and SEA MONSTERS, and amazing characters. The Abyss Surrounds Us definitely went above and beyond my expectations, and I am so happy because of that.

Oh my bad, not this kind of "sea monster"
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