The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (TASU #1)
Publisher: Flux Books
Release Date: February 8, 2016
Summary: Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?
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.
My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½
My Thoughts: The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi that is set in a fascinating futuristic U.S. with sea monsters and pirates! Wonderful characters and its unique setting will keep you turning the page!
I think I just went into this book with completely different expectations (hyping it up in my head) + based on edits and praise I’d heard, I was personally expecting a completely different story than I got! So sadly, TASU did let me down.
I will absolutely be reading the sequel!! I am still very invested in the story and intrigued to see where the plot goes!
Cassandra (or Cas) Leung is a Reckoner trainer who’s worked with her parents her whole life to understand Reckoners (giant + genetically-engineered sea monsters) and use them to accompany ships and avoid trouble with pirates.
However, when she gets assigned her first solo mission, things go very wrong! She gets captured by pirate queen Santa Elena and is forced to train Elena’s own Reckoner pup or face serious consequences!
What I really loved about this novel was the world! Set in our world, the U.S. is now divided among much larger territories, such as the Northern and Southern Republics of California.
In this futuristic U.S. there are now floating cities, pirates, genetically engineered sea monsters! So many great elements were introduced to this world and that is what really set this sci-fi novel apart from other’s that I’ve read. I just loved how focused it was on the science of this world!
Additionally, I loved the diversity! From the main character Cassandra who is Chinese-American + a f/f relationship that develops!
Aside from that, there’s so much girl power + I loved that this novel had a large cast of female characters! Many, such as the girls on Santa Elena’s ship (& Elena herself) were morally grey and it was clear they had so much depth and complexities to their characters! Above all it was just great to see a large cast of females at the center of this novel!
I also really enjoyed the writing-style! I love reading from 1st-person POV, because we learn so much more about the protagonist from seeing the world and everything that encompasses it from their eyes and that really allowed me to connect with Cas along the way as she finds her strength to prove herself as she trains a Reckoner pup for Santa Elena!
Through the writing (perhaps this is just me) it always felt like I was in a piratey-sci-fi! Skrutskie did a fantastic job at creating the atmosphere that really made you feel like you were out at sea with sea monsters, Cas and the crew!!
This was very character-driven story which I really loved too! As the story progressed, I could see Cas changing and growing as she spent time on the ship.
Now as to why my rating is rather low…I was expecting a lot more action and from my personal reading experience I didn’t really get much from the plot, aside from months passing by with Cas training with the Reckoner and some interactions here & there with the crew. Personally I just wanted more
Additionally, I wanted more development from the world. While it was discussed in a broad sense, it would have been great to get a more in-depth look at the politics, etc. of this unique setting!
As mentioned above, just because of my personal expectations, I was a little let down and did feel the pacing was rather slow at points (which did take me out of the story).
The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi which delivers a wholly unique story with pirates and sea monsters, fascinating characters, and a complex world that will immerse you from page 1!