Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
Published by Flux on February 8th, 2016
Genres: science fiction
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.
This was so much fun and so unique. I’ve never read another book like it before and I’m so happy it exists. It had a few flaws that kept it from reaching a higher rating for me, but it’s still so entertaining and a book I’ll keep in mind for rereading when I’m feeling down.
First of all: SEA MONSTERS. The Abyss Surrounds Us is about SEA MONSTERS and a girl who commands them. How amazingly bad ass is that? And it delivers on all its promises too. There’s more than one titanic monster in this book and there’s a ton of action too. Admittedly, I had low expectations with regards to this. I thought about all the books that promise dragons and never actually deliver, and thought this would be more of the same thing, but I was definitely mistaken. Cas is up close and personal with many of these deep sea horrors and it’s honestly the best part of the book to me. Not only are they awe inspiring and semi terrifying to think about, Cas raises them and loves them, which really calls out to the animal lover and pet own in me. It’s adorable how Cas constantly calls Bao “you little shit” and reminds me a lot of me and Weasley.
Also pirates! Cas spends the overwhelming majority of the book in the presence of these pirates. And there’s basically a pirate queen! The captain of the Minnow, the ship that Cas is aboard, is named Santa Elena and she’s theatrical and cruel and mysterious. I do wish we got to learn more about her story and her history, how she ended up becoming a pirate, and I hope that comes up in the next book. I also had a hard time following who the side characters were; they seemed interchangeable to me and honestly half of them didn’t need to be there.
Swift! Sexy killer pirate girl with a heart of gold. Swift was awesome and learning her past made her even more irresistible. As a character, I loved her, but as a love interest, I was slightly disappointed. I saw what the author was trying to do with making them sleep in the same bunk and twisting their lives together so closely and dangerously. Hers and Cas’ story together was great and mostly well-executed. I love that the author took the time to look at consent and imbalance of power – something that is rarely ever touched on but is actually constant in genre fic YA. However, the book was simply too short. Months would pass and in that time Swift and Cas would grow closer, but the reader didn’t get to witness it. So their connection was established off the page, which didn’t work for me.
I actually almost cried at the end, which I wasn’t expecting. By the end of the book I somehow got attached to Bao without noticing, and Cas became dear to me, too. I really enjoyed that Cas was forced to make really hard decisions and at no point did the book shy away from it. I selfishly wanted her to choose differently, but where’s the fun in that?
I’m so excited about where the next book is going, and so, so glad I have a copy of it waiting for me to read immediately after I finish writing this review. This world is just too cool and exciting to not read the sequel. I hope some of my questions are answered and I’m excited to see Swift and Cas’ relationship deepen.