Book Review: “The Abyss Surrounds Us” by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Date Read: 20/04/2017 – 26/04/2017
Rating: ★★★★


I hyped  this book up to myself quite a lot, and while I have a feeling it didn’t quite live up to my hopes, it was still a really solid, enjoyable read.

Cas Leung is a Reckoner trainer, swimming alongside one of the giant genetically-engineered monsters that accompany ships through the NeoPacific and protect them from pirates. But on Cas’ first solo mission, she is captured by a pirate captain who wants her to raise and train the Reckoner pup that they have illegally obtained. And on top of that, she has to deal with burgeoning feelings for one of the other pirates, a pirate girl called Swift.

Regular readers of my blog know that  I’m not usually a fan of first person and I’m definitely not a fan of first person present tense, and yet somehow it works in this one. It’s really consistent, and the voice never really wavers, and so it worked.

Cas is a strongly-written character. She has plenty of doubts about her situation, but knows what she needs to do in her circumstances. I did find her character arc a little unbelievable; she becomes a lot darker than she starts out, but I didn’t quite feel the progression. Ditto her feelings for Swift, though for the most part I did like the way their relationship progressed in and of itself. I’ve seen a number of reviews calling it Stockholm Sydnrome, but I don’t feel that that’s the case. Or at least, it might be, but it feels less squiffy when both the characters are self-aware enough to acknowledge the power imbalance between them.

I really enjoyed the world-building, particularly the idea of the Reckoners and how the eco-systems are carefully managed to ensure that the Reckoners don’t completely destroy the ocean. I didn’t make as much sense of the governments of the future presented in the book. The idea of many smaller governments across the world that could actually look after their constituents made a bit of sense, but it didn’t seem especially viable.

I bought this book because I received the sequel as an ARC. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have ever heard of it, and I’m glad it was brought to my attention.

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