Jan 16, 2018

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie


First Sentence: Any other morning, I'd dive into Durga's observation bay without hesitation, but this is the day before my life begins.

Score: 4/5

Last week I had to cancel two days of work because my pain levels were insane. So, with this spare time I started one of my three mystery books. "Mystery" because they were sitting on hold at my library and I have no memory placing them on hold for pick up.

I only know they're waiting for me because I receive email from my library notifying that they exist. Then I checked because it says 3, and there's a few week old emails notifying me that they've been there awhile. Thankfully I saw the most recent library email!

Here's the other two: The Forbidden Wish and NineFox Gambit

I am so glad I saw the email and my boyfriend went and grabbed them for me.

The Abyss Surrounds Us had no inkling of what I was getting into. I could have searched out the information about the book so I would be prepared. But I had placed a hold at the library so I knew at one point that I had some interest in this topic.

But pirates? I don't recall ever reading a book focused on pirates. I've watched movies based around pirates. I've never held an interest in reading about them...until now.

Summary: Cassandra is a trainer of Reckoners -- giant, genetically modified sea monsters that protect ships from pirates. Something horrible happens and she is abducted by pirates forced to train a Reckoner of their own -- which is the first to happen.

Well, I have a fat baby sea monster. But Bao doesn't tell jokes, and somehow I need that.


I enjoyed Cassandra's story and her journey toward who she becomes.

There are a lot of things happening to her that would be hard for anyone at any age.

Her view on things develop through the story she does not heavily flip flop on things. She does not stay stagnant in opinion of the things around her and the things that are happening.

At the beginning of the story she stands strong on the moral high ground but as the story moves on.. she starts to realize it's a shit view. She knows and understands that parts of her thoughts and opinions are irrational and aren't realistic but still holds onto them.

There are reasons for the most part on what she does, what she's thinking and how she operates.

We don't have a holier than thou who stays holier than thou. We don't have a character who is naive stay naive and "Blind" for the most part to things that are in her face. Which Young Adult books that I've read have -- character who is always morally right no matter what, character flips and flops on things, argue without reason, etc.

Cassandra's struggle is moving from being a Reckoner for the company she works with. With the company she's protecting innocent people from evil pirates. But her life on the pirate ship she learns that not everyone in a pirate ship participates in the "evil". 

She begins struggling with training Bao against ships Santa Elena decides to attack. She doesn't want to be a participant in killing people in this way. She was a participant when she worked for the company but there was a "rightness" to it.  She realizes and understands that her moral high ground in fighting "evil" pirates was...roughly the same as what she's doing now on a pirate ship -- only hurting those who attack them.

She sees why people are working on pirate ships. She sees what caring for someone does to someone.

It was a fun read. I loved that even though connected the dots early on about who gave Santa Elena the Reckoner pup and the possibility of what happened to Durga, enjoyed it through this.

Romance is there it is a slow developed one due to captive vs. captor thing happening. It's about survival and develops into something more for the both of them. They both realize they are stuck in their predicament and are conflicted with what is happening in their life. There is not abuse between them once they are no longer enemies which was a relief. Physical situations that they have occurred because Cassandra being a prisoner, etc.

“Did it ever occur to you that your neck might matter to me at least as much as mine? Actually, probably more than mine? - Swift, to Cas” 


She is a Reckoner trainer so a lot of the focus is on training. We start with Durga(RIP) and then we move on to Bao (!!!). She loves Durga, raising her, getting her ready and she's excited for her first job with her. With Bao, she struggles with bonding with him and preparing him to be the protector of the pirate ship.  As Santa Elena said: You look like a Mother (not exact quote).

We get sea monster battles! AHH!!


She is a Reckoner trainer so a lot of focus is on, well, training. She's training at the facility that she works at with her parents. She then is training for the pirates on the ship for the majority of the time.

It's in first person point of view. So we are restricted to what only Cassandra sees and knows about what is going on around her.  We are restricted on the growth of Swift and her attachment toward Cassandra. We only have a small glimpse at places like the Flotilla so there's not much going on.

From what we get from Cassandra everything is culturally mashed together more than what it is today. Something happened to change the world to what they are dealing with. There is new tech, smaller governed countries, etc. But even though for some this may be bad we get enough that we can move around in this world and it feels like a real place.

Romance is there but it's not at the front for those who need romance to be top level. It's there, Cassandra is working to keep her and Swift alive. But like, Cassandra, points out ...she's a captive and she's falling in love with someone who is her captor.

We get sea monster battles!! But then, Santa Elena decides that it is too dangerous to have Bao. When they've defeated their attackers, Cassandra, tells Santa Elena to let him free. So, we spend all this time with Bao...and he's gone!


Yes. It's a fun first POV Young Adult science fiction story. I've already placed a hold for delivery of the sequel at my library. If you like reading about sea monsters and pirates this is definitely a nice cup of tea.

Can't wait!

There's only two so I'm super excited about not committing my life to a never ending series. (Hopefully, didn't jinx myself.)


“It's one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, knowing their stories.”
Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us

“You're at the top of the world - you're the most powerful thing on the sea when you're serving under her - but there's a cost. There's always a cost.”
― Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us

“Did it ever occur to you that your neck might matter to me at least as much as mine? Actually, probably more than mine? - Swift, to Cas”
― Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us 

“I don’t just raise monsters. I am one.”
― Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us  

“But when you suffer with someone, you learn them. And it’s hard to kill a person you’ve learned.”
― Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us

"Well, I have a fat baby sea monster. But Bao doesn't tell jokes, and somehow I need that."
― Emily Skrutskie, The Abyss Surrounds Us 

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