Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-fi
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.
After having had some trouble getting interested in books for a few months, The Abyss Surrounds Us managed to firmly get into the swing of things again.
The relationship between Cas and Bao was amazing to see develop: from reluctant trainer, to almost that of a proud mother. And the character development that Cas went through from start to finish was truly beautiful to witness. Skrutskie managed to make it so that Cas's journey felt fluid and natural - from her first day out on her own boat, to the self-discoveries brought on by captivity.
Another definite plus was the relationship between Cas and Swift. It started out so subtle, that by the time it is addressed in the text, it feels almost inevitable. But the way Skrutskie manoeuvred around the issues that arose from the situation both girls were in was what truly shone: at no point did the romance feel wrong, forced or even detrimental to Cas as a character in captivity. Much to the contrary, in fact: Cas's strength and determination when it came to Swift made her shine as a character that not only knows what she wants and deserves from life, but also one I hope young girls will look up to. The world needs more Cassandra Leung's in literature; not only to show that it is okay to love another girl, but also that love, in whatever form it comes in, should never come above your own sense of self, identity, freedom and morals.
Truly a very entertaining read right to the very end. Definitely recommend, and I'm very much looking forward to the next book, because that cliffhanger was a killer!