Book Review: “The Edge of the Abyss” by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/LGBT
Date Read: 26/04/2017 – 02/05/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this sligthly less than its predecessor was because I was sick while I was reading it. Not that it was necessarily any worse. My head was foggy, which made it harder to follow, so I guess my rating and review reflect that.

When Santa Elena’s ship, The Minnow, is attacked by a Reckoner without any trainer or companion ship, Cas Leung realises that  it is another of Fabian Murphy’s beasts, sold to pirates who were unable to train it and turned it loose. Realising that this is just one of many, Santa Elena convenes The Salt, a network of pirates, to try to take back the oceans.  But that’s going to be harder than it looks, and with Cas’s skills, she’s going to be right on the front line.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about this book that wasn’t really dealt with in the previous one was that Cas had to face up to how her disappearance affected her family. Some of my favourite scenes where those where she was trying to process that, and an eventual conversation she has with her brother, just before the climax.

As with the previous book, the plot is tight and the writing is solid. Cas’s relationship with Swift devleops at a good pace now that they are on equal footing, and I liked how complicated it got at times. There was just something that left me feeling a bit disengaged, though. As I said above, that may have been more on my end than Skrutskie’s. While I could see that technically, the book hit all the right boxes, I just wasn’t feeling it.


(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

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#WWW Wednesday – 03 May, 2017

Hello everyone! Apologies for my absence over the last couple of weeks. I had a 4000 word paper due a couple of days ago, which pretty much consumed my life for the time I was writing it. It turned out to be harder than I expected to write, but I got there in the end. It wasn’t my best work, but I’m reasonably confident I won’t fail the course, since I have done reasonably okay on the assignments worth the other 50% of my grade. And if I do fail, I will be disappointed for a bit, then shrug it off and do the course again next time it is offered (it’s a core one for my specialisation, so I do need to tick it off somewhere).

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You may notice that this post only features WWW Wednesday. That’s because I’ve set up a new blog for my writing. You may have already seen the post I wrote on Monday announcing this, or you may have seen my Facebook post. If not, you can read my first WIPpet Wednesday post in the new digs here.

So now it’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished The Asp of Ascension by B. R. Meyers and posted my review here. I enjoyed the mystery and felt it had a lot of potential, but there were a few too many things that didn’t work for me, so it only got three stars.

After that, I read The Abyss Surrounds Us and its sequel, The Edge of the Abyss, both by Emily Skrutskie. My review of the first one is here, and the second one will go up this Friday.

I finally got back to the Series of Unfortunate Events for a while and read The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket. It was nice to see the Baudelaires hanging out with some kids their own age, even if it didn’t last very long.

Last but not least, my review of The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil was also posted since my last WWW post; you may remember me gushing about it. Click here to read the review.

What are you currently reading?

After seeing a really incredible stage production of it last week, and after discovering that I hadn’t donated my copy, I am trying to read  Dracula by Bram Stoker. Mostly to compare it with the performance, because I’m intrigued as to how much of the eroticism and repressed sexuality that seems to be in every adaptation was actually in the original text.

I know I’ve said in the past that I was swearing off vampires but Dracula doesn’t count. It’s modern vampires that I don’t like. The ones with ~feelings~ and who are all angsty about their nature. Unapologetically evil vampires I am still okay with.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think I will try Poison Study by Maria  V. Snyder next. I own three of the books in this series and the four of them are on my April – June TBR. It’ll be good to knock a few off there, as well as being able to count them towards my Beat the Backlist challenge. Also everyone I know who has read these books has really loved them. And the covers are really stunning.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

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

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/LGBT
Date Read: 20/04/2017 – 26/04/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

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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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 19 April, 2017

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Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! This is a weekly blog hop hosted by yours truly. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I’ve finished the first draft of Memories and Magic! The last chunk is a bit haphazard, as I realised I need to fix some structural issues in the third act before I can make it run smoothly, but I sort of have a whole A – Z progression. In this scene, Clara’s memories of being a princess have just been restored after several months of her living with some false ones.

The scene didn’t change for several minutes. Finally, the blue of the rune faded and the ink on the wall disappeared, as usual. All eyes turned to Clara. She wavered on her feet for a moment.

“Huh,” she said weakly before passing out on the floor.

Yep.

My last assignment for the semester is due on June 09, so writing will go on the backburner for the next couple of months. It’s kind of a good time to finish a draft, as I’ll actually be distracted from wanting to start revisions too soon. I’ll still try to have something to share each Wednesday, even if it’s just something I’ve slapped together on the day.

Sort of on that note, a random writing observation: I realised the other day why I’ve never successfully written a contemporary. It’s because pretty much all ideas and characters I have for contemporary stories are based on my own experience, to the point where writing them in the third person feels weird and distant. Even though that’s what I write everything in, so it is kind of my default. Now that I have realised this, though, I’m going to try writing in first person and see if that helps.

And now it’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Soulless by Gail Carriger and reviewed it here. It wasn’t my favourite but it was amusing enough.  I would have preferred a bit more urban fantasy and a bit less comedy of manners in the end.

I also finished The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil. I fell in love with it on page one and stayed in love right to the end; not really a big surprise given how much I’ve enjoyed Keil’s other books. If you read YA and were ever a geek at school, you should read them. She nails it. It doesn’t read like she’s even trying, it just feels completely authentic.

Okay, I’ll stop gushing now. 😛 My review of that one will be up on Friday. If you’re interested, I also posted a review for The Man from Snowy River by Elyne Mitchell over here.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Asp of Ascension by B. R. Meyers, which I requested from Netgalley because I feel like there aren’t enough books that use Ancient Egyptian mythology as their basis and this one sounded fun. When I started it yesterday, I was fairly bored but I’m about halfway through now and it has grown on me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Next I will be reading The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie. I have the sequel waiting for me on NetGalley, but I don’t think it’s one to read out of order. I’ve kind of hyped this series up in my head because it’s premise is lady pirates fighting genetically-engineered monsters in a dystopian future and also there’s LGBT representation, so it’s got huge potential. I just hope it lives up to it!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily