Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill Review

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'NeillPrincess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 56

Summary:When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This fast-paced fairy tale follows 2 princesses and their adventures across a kingdom. Not only are there so many positive and inspiring messages in Princess Princess Ever After, but O’Neill also puts twists and spins on fairy tale tropes!

I loved this graphic novel ❤ it was pretty quick, but adorable!~ I also felt myself getting into another reading slump, but Princess Princess Ever After, pulled me right out of it!

The story begins with Amira who is traveling across the kingdom when she hears Sadie from her tower and decides to rescue her from her tower.

“Dozens of princes already failed. What makes you any different?

Because I am no prince!”

From the very beginning its clear that there is a connection between Princess Amira and Sadie! They develop a great friendship as they leave the tower and travel across the kingdom.

Princess Amira is shown to have dark skin, while Sadie is shown to be “big-boned” and obviously there is a sweet relationship that develops between the two over the course of the story.  It was great to see tons of diversity!

Its revealed that Sadie sabotaged all those who would attempt to rescue her because she was told by a sorceress to never leave.

Not long after, they meet Prince Valdric who needs their help to get revenge on an ogre (who also managed to destroy a village nearby). After its discovered that the ogre was just dancing, Sadie and Amira spend the day teaching the ogre to dance more safely to avoid destroying anymore villages.

What I loved about this story was the twist and spins O’Neill put on classic fairy tale tropes. Its revealed that Prince Valdric feels there’s a lot of pressure on him, by his family to be the type of prince who slays monsters, etc., but reveals that isn’t who he really is, or wants to be.

When the sorceress returns to take back Sadie, she takes Amira instead and its revealed that the sorceress is actually Sadie’s sister (the current queen). After they save the day, Sadie takes the throne, but it will take time before she can fully take on her role.

As for Amira, she knows she still needs to learn more about what it means to be a hero. Sadly the two spend time apart for quite a number of years.

However, by the end they’re reunited and have their happily ever after.

There were so many positive/inspiring messages in this story about body image, gender, and what it means to be a hero.

I also really love Katie O’Neill’s art style and cannot wait to read her next webcomic turned book: The Tea Dragon Society (which I’m still currently reading & love so much ❤ <3)

I did want to the story stretched out a little longer, because it felt the pacing was just a little too quick. And I really wanted to see more of these amazing characters.

Overall Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet fairy tale of princesses falling in love. It features such inspiring and positive messages, creative spins on classic fairy tale tropes, and is a great read for fans of graphic novels and comics. 

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire Review

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuireDown Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 189

Summary: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Dark, gothic, and atmospheric, Down Among The Sticks An Bones is a a prequel which follows twins Jacqueline & Jillian and their adventures in the Moors set before the events of Every Heart A Doorway!

What I love about this series, is how McGuire is able to pack in so much story and character depth into such few pages! Every Heart A Doorway was just so unique and magical, I was happy to be getting more tales from this world💖~

Having a twin sister myself, I was beyond heartbroken at the forced separation that Jack & Jill were grown into from the very beginning and seeing the rift between them grow with each turn of the page. Reading passages of their resentment and just few feelings they had for each other, left me feeling so sad!

I felt the story started out completely strong with the background on their parents (Serena & Chester) and how their decision to have children really impacted how Jack & Jill would grow and see themselves. It really set the stage and tone for the rest of the story.

With their parents having their own selfish desires for what they wanted their perfect children to be, Lousie Wolcott (Chester’s mother) did her best with the time she spent with them to remind the girls to be themselves and not let anyone control who they want to become.

This quote resonated with me throughout the rest of the story “She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and all of them were valid…(34).

Jack was molded by Serena and forced to be a proper lady in her mothers eyes, while Jill was forced to be more of a tomboy, by Chester. Up until the age of 12, they lived very different lives under the same roof and there was a rift between them because of it.

Later they soon find a doorway that leads them to the Moors and their 5 year journey begins.

Jack and Jill go their separate ways and undergo their own personal journey and we get a better understanding of who they are and how they try to break free of their parent’s molds.

Additionally there is an f/f relationship that develops nearing the middle/end of the novel!

I felt the 3rd person narrative really gave a broad scope at the world and each character in this story, which made it easy to get a sense of each character, Jack & Jill’s home life + their new life at the Moors. However, there’s just something about this novel (from the writing-style) that delivered a more “telling” rather than “showing” at times, which made the novel feel rather flat in some aspects.

While the story really did resonate with me, I couldn’t help but still feel a disconnect through the writing. Additionally, unlike Every Heart A Doorway, I felt this novel’s pacing felt much slower, which took me out of the story.

Honestly I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, because while there’s a lot that I really loved about it, I loved Every Heart A Doorway a little more~ 😭❤️🚪

Aside from those minor issues, there was still so much that I really loved about this novel. The uniqueness of the plot itself, the atmosphere of the world, and I also loved the positive messages about what it means to be a girl.

Down Among The Sticks And Bones introduces a much darker and brutal world compared to the first novella, it also delivers such powerful messages on who we are vs. what we become as a product of our environment.

Through thought-provoking writing, McGuire sets the stage for a dark but whimsical fairy tale-like world where the choices we make impact who we become.

While I had a few issues, I really enjoyed this sequel and cannot wait to read how this trilogy wraps up in Beneath A Sugar Sky!

The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave Review

The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood HargraveThe Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Publisher: Chicken House

Release Date: May 4, 2017

Pages: 288

Summary: Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Island At The End Of Everything is a captivating tale of adventure and courage, with such lyrical writing and messages of hope, this novel also heavily discusses themes of family and friendship.
I adored Kiran’s debut The Girl Of Ink And Stars and was eager to read her next book.

Along the similar lines of her previous novel, Hargrave uses a poetic and lyrical 1st person narrative as her stories follows young women on journeys of friendship, family, and finding their way home.

What made this novel different from her previous one, was that it was based more on history than just fantasy. 

Set in the early 1900’s Philippines, we follow Ami as she lives her life on the beautiful Culion Island with her mother. However, many of the people who live there have leprosy.

When government official Mr. Zamora arrives, her world is changed forever. Not having leprosy herself, she is forced to leave her mother and her home to Coron Island, where she will live in an orphanage with other people not having leprosy, to avoid getting it herself.

What I love about Hargrave’s writing style so much is that each sentence brings the story, characters, the lush setting of the Philippines, everything to life. Its lyrical and beautiful. As you read The Island At The End Of Everything, you can tell each sentence is put there for a reason and from the beginning to the very end, you’ll be in awe at how the story comes together through the writing!

I’d never read a novel set in the Philippines before or one that discussed this part of history. I’d never heard about this leprosy outbreak until I’d read about it in this novel, but I’m glad a novel like this exists for middle grade readers to learn about it.

Reading from Ami’s POV gave so much depth to this novel, not only to bring the setting to life, but also the characters. From her mother, to her local neighbors like Bondoc, Capuno, the Sisters, Mari, every single character felt so real!

Ami is heartbroken to be leaving her home and mother behind. However, when she reaches Coron, she finds solace with her new friend Mari. Ami was so brave and just reading from her POV was so empowering, reading about her journey to get back home and see her mother again.

Additionally, this novel is very diverse! Almost all of the cast of characters are Filipino + Mari is shown to have a disability (withe her hand) with her hand and Hargrave discusses it with so much care.

The 2 develop a beautiful friendship and over the course of the story, Mari becomes a very central character + such an important friend that Ami is grateful to have.

What I love about Hargrave’s novels, is the emphasis she puts on family, friendship and independence. Those themes are present all throughout this novel.

While Hargrave’s novels are marketed as middle grade, they are novels that can honestly speak so much to readers of any genre. Her novels have messages that anyone can relate to (Understanding who you are, discovering friendship, and the emphasis and importance of family).

My only issue is that the epilogue did feel rushed and I did find the pacing to be slow towards the middle.

Aside from that…

The Island At The End Of Everything is a tale of friendship, family, and finding your way home. Hargrave’s writing is captivating, bringing the setting and characters to life as we follow Ami and her journey to find her way back home! Highly recommend this novel!

July 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton1. One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

One Italian Summer Full Review

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release Date: May 4, 2017

Pages: 245

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: There was a strong theme of sisterly bonding between the the 3 sisters Milly, Elise & Leonie throughout the whole novel which I loved, as they take a trip to Italy w/ their mother to celebrate a relative’s wedding. There’s also a theme of grief as the girls come to terms with their father’s death. Stainton really captured and kept the themes of sisterly-love + grief throughout the whole novel. However, there is a romance that I felt began to overshadow the plot (since its told through 1st person POV) + the atmosphere of Italy wasn’t quite there and I was hoping for a little more description. Aside from that, it was a pretty enjoyable YA Summer Contemporary!

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes2. This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

This Is How It Happened Full Review

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

Overall Thoughts: Genevieve Larsen comes to terms with her boyfriend Dallas Kade’s death in this YA Contemporary that discusses mental health, family, friendship, acceptance, and the impact of social media/internet! Kade was an up-and-coming singer and his fans mourned for his loss. Gen learns to accept and cope when truths come to light about what happened.While there were some moments of slow pacing + the romance feeling a little rushed, Stokes’s YA Contemporaries always manage to integrate a number of themes and topics into her novels that give them such depth!

The Library Of Fates by Aditi Khorana3. The Library Of Fates by Aditi Khorana

The Library Of Fates Full ARC Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Pages: 354

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: The Library Of Fates is a perfect YA Fantasy if your looking for a character-driven +thought-provoking tale! When Princess Amarita’s castle is attacked, she goes on a journey to reclaim her kingdom and change her fate! There’s female friendships, a rich mythology that really shines throughout the novel, and little to no romance! The plot kept me surprised with each and every page! While there were a few moments of slow pacing towards the middle + wanting a little more expansion on world/characters, Khorana’s novel was a tale that immersed me from the very beginning!

Lucky In Love by Kasie West4. Lucky In Love by Kasie West

Lucky In Love Full ARC Review

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Pages: 333

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Maddie’s life changes when she wins the lottery, however she makes some mistakes along the way as she is so overwhelmed with all the money she has! There’s a cute friendship/romance that develops with Seth Nguyen (one of Maddie’s co-workers), discussion on finances/financial struggles, + themes of friendship & family. While some of Maddie’s decisions did frustrate me, this novel is a fun and fast-paced contemporary that will have the pages flying by!

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan5. No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

No More Heroes Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing

Release Date: June 27, 2015

Pages: 265

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: No More Heroes is a perfect read if your looking for Urban Fantasy, action, mystery, love superheroes/superpowers, and are looking for a diverse cast of characters! (Seriously there is so much representation ❤ ❤ A majority of the cast are characters of differing ethnicites (Samon, Chinese, Indian, Cambodian + Maori  & characters who identify as aro-ace, gay, genderfluid, have anxiety + ADHD) In the City, we follow 3 teens who have Abilities who find themselves teaming up with Vigilantes (or those who use their Abilities to take down bad guys) as Vigilantes start mysteriously being killed off!  Kan does a fantastic job at building the element of mystery throughout! The world-building is so unique from the setting to the explanation for how the differing Abilities work! There is such a big emphasis on friendship throughout the whole novel + no romance! I did want a little more description/expansion in terms of world+characters, but above all No More Heroes was a unique and fascinating story that has me awaiting a sequel!

Additional Posts + Miscellaneous From This Month:

All Systems Red by Martha Wells Book Review (Originally read in July)

Fire Emblem AwakeningMisc*~ If you didn’t know, I love video games and after so long, I finally got back into playing them again! So, in July what took up a lot of my free time when I wasn’t reading was Fire Emblem Awakening!✨🎮 Its a tactical role-playing game where your a skilled tactician who wakes up from amnesia to find yourself helping out a prince, his sister and their guard in their fantasy kingdom of Ylissie as you defend the kingdom from monsters! I don’t really wanna give too much of the plot away, but yeah this game is tons of fun! I adore it, the characters, plot, world, everything, one of my new favorite video games for sure!! I made it about 1/2 way through the game in July & I’m hoping to finish it this month!😍💖🎉 ~

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan Review

No More Heroes by Michelle KanNo More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing

Release Date: June 27, 2015 (Feb. 2017 for 2nd edition)

Pages: 265

Summary: The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young, would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This action-packed and character-driven urban fantasy, follows a diverse cast of characters who have superpowers! No More Heroes is a tale about friendship and what it means to be a hero!

No More Heroes had me hooked from page 1! Vigilantes (or those who use their Abilites to protect the City) mysteriously seem to be getting killed off 1 by 1!

A group of teen Vigilantes: Clare, Linus, and Mallory (who are fairly new to it), become involved when they rescue Vigilantes (Shockwave +Resonance) from a burning building!

Resonance tells them more about what Vigilantes do, but to stay safe!

Over the course of the novel, Linus, Clare, and Mallory become more involved in this mystery of surrounding the Vigilantes. They soon join Shockwave, Resonance (much to her dismay), and a few other Vigilantes as they uncover more behind who could be behind these attacks.

This novel really put a focus on character development and I loved that so much! There is also so much representation, which is amazing!

There’s Samoan representation (Linus), Chinese (Resonance aka Fang), Indian, Maori+ Cambodian rep.! Also characters who have ADHD (Clare) and anxiety (Resonance). There was also characters who identify as aro-ace, gay and genderfluid!

I also really felt connected to Resonance as it gets mentioned that she has anxiety! As the novel progressed, I picked up on certain actions/moments that showed Resonance’s anxiety, but no matter what she pushed on and continued to be a strong leader, despite it! Even when she encountered some obstacles along the way,  she was so brave and so determined to keep her friends safe!

With the mystery that surrounds who’s been killing off the Vigilantes, I was surprised when it gets revealed! Kan did a great job at keeping the element of mystery present throughout the story!

As for world building I found it to be so unique. The novel takes place in the City, a fictional city that has numerous skyscrapers, buildings, etc. and has a mainly cool/foggy weather. It was fascinating and with night being a big element of the setting I felt it really added to the mysterious tone of the story! Continuing with the world building, I also loved the explanation for why Vigilantes mainly work at night-time/evening (b/c a theory suggests that the night enhances Abilities). It was an additional little tidbit of info, but for me it added much more to the knowledge of Abilities and above all the direction Kan took with superpowers/abilities was so unique!

+ I really loved Clare’s ability (being able to travel through fog) it was so unique and I loved learning more about it!

Also if your looking for a novel with no romance, this is the book for you! No More Heroes really focused on its characters + story and friendship was a theme present throughout the whole novel.

I loved the friendship/dynamic between Clare, Linus & Mal so much ❤ ❤ (+ Shockwave/Resonance)!!  Its clear from the very beginning that they are all looking out for one another and have each other’s backs! While I really loved Clare + Linus’s dynamic, it would have been great to get more between Mal + Clare too, but I loved their dynamic all the same!

As the story progressed, there was also expansion on some of the older/ more experienced Vigilante’s motives which touched upon some characters showing morally grey sides/elements of antihero and that really added another layer of depth to these characters who already had so many differing sides to them.

While I am usually pretty hesitant with 3rd person narration, Kan did a fantastic job! It really helped to expand on the large cast of characters and overall went perfectly with the story! I do hope for future novels there is more development + expansion on the characters! I really loved each of them, but felt I needed to known so much more about them~

As to why I took off 1/2 a star: I wish there was more description/expansion on the City! Its such a fascinating setting and it would have been great to get more development + same goes for the characters (as mentioned above)! I adored them and felt they were all so unique & amazing, I just wanted to learn more about them~ ❤

With the way the novel wraps up, it sets up for a great sequel! I’ve read online that there is another novel in the works and I’m so happy about that b/c I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these characters and the fascinating world just yet! :’)

No More Heroes is a perfect read if your looking to get into urban fantasy or really love stories about superheroes! This novel is filled with diverse characters, action, perfectly planned mysteries, fantastic character dynamics, emphasis on friendships and above all a fun and fascinating plot that will keep you turning the page!

The Library Of Fates by Aditi Khorana ARC Review

The Library Of Fates by Aditi KhoranaThe Library Of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Pages: 354

Summary: No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

*Received ARC from a festival*

My Rating:★★★★☆ (still debating between 4 + 4½)

My Thoughts: The Library Of Fates is a character-driven tale that explores a rich and immersive world, while weaving in thought-provoking discussions! The plot goes in directions that keep you turning the page!

While I may be in between 4/4½ , just the reading experience alone made this book so much fun!

Khorana’s writing really builds the world we see through Princess Amarita’s eyes! Through the 1st person POV, The Library Of Fates easily becomes a very character-driven story that shows so many different sides to Amarita as she undergoes a journey to reclaim her kingdom.

As for plot, I adored it so much! From the very first page discussing “The Parable Of The Land Of Trees,” I felt immersed from the very beginning.

The princess has lived quite a sheltered life and over the course of this novel, yet comes to understand more about her home of Shalingar and the magic that sweeps across her kingdom.

Amarita must escape her kingdom when it gets attacked by Emperor Sikander and finds herself on the run with Thala, an Oracle (who was taken from her family and trapped within Sikander’s kingdom)! There is never rivalry, etc. between them and they support each other no matter what as they go on this dangerous journey to reach The Library of All Things and undo the fate that’s been put upon Shalingar!

However, with Sikander eager to take control of the Sybillines cave (for the powerful drug chamak), his guards among others, are never far behind, so Amarita & Thala try to stay hidden over the course of the story.

Female friendships + empowerment in this novel is also huge part of The Library Of Fates! It really focuses on Amarita & Thala’s growth as they become friends and their strength as they face struggles while learning more about who they are!

As for the other characters, such as her father Chandradev, Arjun, her childhood friend+ Mala, her lady in waiting (among others we meet along the way) they all came to life through Amarita’s eyes.

The relationships, especially between Amarita + Arjun was very well done! We learn so much about their past and strong friendship, I wish he was present in the story more!

This novel is essentially a journey story, as Amarita tries to find a way to undo her kingdom’s fate and Thala hopes to find freedom. The plot went in directions that kept me guessing and above all was unexpected for me!

Khorana’s writing really delivers a world rich with mythology and is a vital part of the novel! That aspect of the story really shines throughout the novel, as do the magical/fantastical elements + Amarita as a character!

Similar to Mirror In The Sky, what I love about Khorana’s writing is how thought-provoking it is and how it really makes you think about the bigger picture!

I did find the pacing to be just a little bit slow towards the middle + I did want more expansion/development from certain characters + aspects of the world, because I really wanted to learn more about them as the story progressed!

Aside from that…
The Library Of Fates is a complex and thought-provoking YA Fantasy that really focuses on the expansive mythology in the world as well as the characters! The plot takes unexpected turns that will leave you guessing till the very end!

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie Review

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily SkrutskieThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (TASU #1)

Publisher: Flux Books

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Pages: 320

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.
However…
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).

Regardless…

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!