The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us

by Emily Skrutskie


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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 giant, 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. 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 and teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780738746913
Publisher: North Star Editions
Publication date: 02/08/2016
Series: Abyss Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 91,083
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 940L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Emily Skrutskie (Ithaca, NY) has had her short fiction published by Harper Teen and attends Cornell University. The Abyss Surrounds Us is her debut novel.

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The Abyss Surrounds Us 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Alina_Sichevaya More than 1 year ago
My less-than-coherent, emotional review: I cried so much. I haven't felt this much emotion about giant water lizards since Pacific Rim. I loved so much about this book. Two of its characters are girls who love other girls--and /no girls who like girls were killed/! Which is extremely refreshing. The romantic relationship featured in the book also very clearly acknowledges some power dynamics that could have been extremely problematic, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that. The writing was beautiful, and I especially enjoyed the main character's determination. Cas grew much more as a character than I would have expected from such a short book. And now, I'm going to stalk Etsy until someone starts making Reckoner plushies, because I need a giant lizard that I can hug.
AndreCarolina More than 1 year ago
Pirates, kaiju-like monsters, and a well-paced interracial lesbian romance would normally launch any book onto my shelf of favorites. However, what makes 'The Abyss Surrounds Us' a truly special and gratifying read is the gray amorality that the protagonist must contend with. She battles many forces throughout the course of the story: it's Cas vs. Man (or more frequently, Woman), Cas vs. Monster, and Cas vs. Nature, but the most important battle she will fight is Cas vs. Self. It's a kind of conflict that many authors struggle to navigate as adeptly as Skrutskie does.
LittleFoxAndReads More than 1 year ago
***Pirates, Sea monsters, Swoony f/f romance, POC characters and kick-ass female main characters.*** WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED??? What I liked : * Dark, gritty atmosphere. I really did not expect for this book to be this gritty. It’s not really gruesome or anything, but it had cursing and fighting and monsters breaking humans into half, which is a plus for me (but still unexpected). * The whole reckoner, sea monster-training aspect was so well done. The descriptions of the equipment and the methods are put in such detail that it feels real. The writing, especially when it comes to the monster training and fighting, is brilliant. It made the whole thing immersive and fun. * Cas, the main protagonist, was kick-ass. I loved her! It feels like there is more to her yet and I’m sure the next book will give us more action from her part. * The hate-to-love romance was so well done. It didn’t feel like an icky captor-prisoner romance trope because they both acknowledged the difference in power and the author executed their relationship tastefully. There was chemistry between the two girls and their banters gave me life. I ship them so hard
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
Genetically engineered sea monsters as ship pets and protectors - oh yeah, I was so ready for this one. When I started this book, I did not know that I would come out with so much feelings at the end of it. I mean, like, 26 pages in, I was about to cry - 26 pages in! I was that invested, right from the start. It was because Durga was so damn adorable, yes, but also because the book explores the fragile nature of morality and belonging. Cas has been learning to be a Reckoner trainer all her life, but when she is taken prisoner on her first career voyage, she is thrust into this world of grey areas. All her life, she has been taught to keep the balance of the Reckoners, and to accept that they provide justice in the treacherous sea waters. But now, on the other side of the equation, when she has to protect the pirates (even if it is under duress) the ideology of her life disintegrates. Sure the romance is a major plot in the book, particularly in the second half, but let me talk about the other important relationship here -that between the Reckoner and its trainer. Cas has been nurturing Reckoners right from when she was a kid, and seeing one illegally obtained by the pirates, firstly it is her curiosity over the acquisition that makes her stay. In the early days, she resents her Reckoner because it is a symbol of her captivity, but she soon grows to love Bao. That development was shown so wonderfully in this book - she is worried over what she is training it to do, and how that affects its life. The demanding pirate captain has her perverting the regulated training and turn her beast into a true monster. But Cas soon realizes that the definition of a monster depends on what side of the equation you are viewing it from. Life on either side has the same value, even if one is provoked and yet innocent. Onto the romance - the author delivers a beautiful f/f romance by slowly morphing a tentative friendship into an intense relationship. The driving force for Cas' decisions in the second half are to protect Swift, but the plot twist at the end has me worried over the state of that relationship in the next book. Since this is going to be only a duology, fingers and toes crossed! The world-building of this book places it about a century into the future, I am guessing, since there is not a lot of history tied to it. That is perhaps my one grievance against this book, as it made it difficult to imagine a shore-life that is similar to ours, but an ocean life like the old pirate stories. It does make for an interesting anachronism that way, but I wished it was delved into more. I am hoping with Cas challenging this world that she was a part of, will we get to see more of the world-building? Overall, this was one hell of a science fiction book, and quite impressive as a debut. High hopes for the sequel!
Adriyanna More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved The Abyss Surrounds Us. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Pacific Rim. Skrutskie combines some of my favourite things to create this non-stop, action packed, female lead debut novel. I seriously couldn’t get enough of it! The protagonist, Cassandra Leung has been around Reckoners – genetically modified sea monsters – her entire life. Cas is a really likeable character, I could relate to her almost immediately and once I started the novel I couldn’t stop. Cas is about to go on her first solo mission when the novel starts, so we as the reader get the behind-the-scenes look when it comes to creating and training Reckoners. Skrutskie is really great with character development, especially when it comes to Cas. She opens up to the reader, to Swift – another great character – and to herself. Going into this, I thought it was fantasy but it delves more into sci-fi. This was a pleasant surprise because I love these types of books. Cas lives in a post-apocalyptic world, the borders of North America having changed. We don’t have an exact time period of how far off into the future this takes place, but there is some explanation into why countries became smaller – it’s better suited to handle and govern its people. In this day and age piracy has run rampant so governments and companies have created Reckoners, genetically engineered sea monsters, to protect important cargo and passenger ships. Skrutskie is really good when it comes to world building – this world isn’t so different from ours in that we focus on the story and not the history behind it. I had questions – which are mostly answered – but it didn’t deter from the plot. Modern-day pirates and genetically engineered animals are things we can readily imagine – they’re familiar elements. I do feel the world building could have been expanded on a bit more. That’s my favourite element, so I always want more. For example, there are floating cities which are dependent on piracy. These cities literally float on the water and go wherever the ocean currents take them. I wished we could have seen more of that, they seem like a really interesting aspect. I loved characters like Santa Elena, a pirate queen with a badass story to tell. Each character has their own story, their own worth. However, I didn’t feel like we got enough time with secondary characters. The Abyss Surrounds Us is largely focused on Cas and Swift. Santa Elena has gotten her hands on a Reckoner and tasks Cas with training him. Named Bao, he’s a terrapoid which is like this giant turtle with claws. Minus the scary I-could-eat-you parts, I wanted my own Bao – I just loved everything-Reckoner. Skrutskie really impressed me when it came to them. If you love pirates, sea monsters and diverse characters, this is the book for you. I’m really impressed with Skrutskie’s debut and I cannot wait to read her next book. When it comes to writing fiction, Skrutskie is talented. We can expect outstanding work from her in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my gosh - the rough start turned into an amazing story about pirates and what we'll risk for what we love. I don't want to spoil it, but Cas is an unapologetic character who doesn't care what you think of her, and it makes this book an intriguing, uncomfortable, un-put-downable read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It is a great work of YA science fiction and the reckoners were very compelling beasts! I highly recommend it. My only wish is that it would have been longer. It is a quick and short read and at the end I was longing for more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting, dark, and unpredictable! I read it all in one sitting and really enjoyed it. Would love to read a sequel!
Book_Sniffers_Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Abyss Surrounds Us starts off really strong. We are shown the bond and connection between Cas and her Reckoner, Durga. I mean, here's this massive turtle sea monster and it's so gentle with Cas. You see the bond between the two of them and the trust they have for one another. Then to see the Reckoner flip switches and charge at an oncoming pirate ship and become the monster it is was pretty interesting. Then Cas gets captured and you follow along while Cas struggles with what she has to do. It's been ingrained on her that the Reckoners are to protect others from pirates, and yet here she is training one to fight for them. Add onto that the fact that the Captain tasks a teenage girl who's Cas' age to be her guardian, which inevitably turns to friendship, and then more... yeah. Let's just say Cas has a lot going on. However, the story did start to lag a bit at times. It was going strong and then just started to slow down at parts while Cas trained Bao. There's a lot of resentment on her end towards the bestie but at the same time, she can't help her instinctive protectiveness of him. While the training portions were interesting to read about, I feel like some of that time could have been spent building a bond between Cas and Swift. I could see them having a friendship but I didn't believe their love for each other was real. I mean, I would have liked to have seen more time with the two of them getting to know each other. As it stood, I feel like Cas had more of a bond with Bao than with Swift. One this is for certain though, there are quite a few gory scenes in this book. I mean, after all, it's a story about a massive sea monster that's trained to take out ships. So, suffice to say, there are a few battles that get pretty suspenseful. Not to mention there's a part where Bao eats a human. So, while there isn't a lot of adult content in the way of language or intimate scenes, they do get a bit bloody. Which... I loved! The Abyss Surrounds Us is a great sci-fi read. I mean, how could it not be, there's genetically engineered sea monsters and pirates! I just wish the romantic aspect was a bit more solidified because I feel like that could have been amazing. Hopefully in the next book Cas and Swift are able to connect a bit more. Either way, I cannot wait to read the second half of Cas' story and to see where these turn of events take her.
bookyabber More than 1 year ago
The Abyss Surrounds Us is a face paced, epic, adventure story about sea creatures, created in a lab, and their trainers who accompany and defend their assigned sea vessel on their various missions. The story reminded me of Jurassic Park meets Pacific Rim. Emily Skrutskie is a debut author and I had the pleasure of meeting her while I attended ALAMW 2016. She’s very sweet and I’m so excited for her and this book. This book didn’t take very long to get rolling. Almost immediately you were thrown into the action that never seemed to seize! This book was fast paced and had a simple plot line. Not very much was going on apart from the main story line, which is fine, just made for a fast contemporary-like read. The story moved along at a fast pace entirely and my attention never wavered. Emily’s writing was easy to follow, flowing, and vividly graphic. I enjoyed the writing. The characters seemed a little stiff at the beginning, but they came into themselves as the story progressed. I really fell for these characters, especially the Reckoners. So much that I want more from them. I hope this turns out to be a series. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was new and fresh, the characters and their rapport left me wanting more, the story line was fast and simple, the battle scenes are action packed, the book never lagged nor did my attention ever wane. I gave THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US three stars. I liked it! All books start at four for me and I removed a star because it felt too simple. That being said, I still really enjoyed the book and I hope there’s a book two!
Cambear More than 1 year ago
The Abyss Surrounds Us is Emily Skrutskie's debut novel. This story is set in a future where the world has been fragmented into smaller, more independent countries and big ships sail the seas accompanied by huge seas monsters (called Reckoners) for protection. Cassandra Leung (Cas) is a Reckoner trainer and gets hijacked by pirates on her first solo cruise. Oh and they have plans for her and her Reckoner training skills. Uh oh. A fun, adventure page-turner, Skrutskie immerses the reader quickly into this new world. There isn't a huge lecture on the quirks of this world so the story moves quickly and with enough background to follow along. This story is all about girl-power since the pirate crew is mostly female and the few males are kind of token characters. Still, Cas' work with the Reckoners is well drawn and there's extra points here for the diversity of her characters. This is an enjoyable read and clearly the start of the series with plenty more to explore in the next book.
Katie_breathofbooks More than 1 year ago
This book is technically outside of my typical genre for reading, yet I still loved it so much. My favorite part of it was definitely the relationships between the various characters in the book. My favorite relationship in this book is the one between Cas and Swift. It is a slow burn hate to love, and hate to love is one of my favorite relationship tropes. The book deals with how they are in positions of different levels of power, which makes a relationship for them difficult. Swift is essentially helping holding Cas captive. And Cas's choices are tied to whether or not Swift will be allowed to live. And somewhere along the way, both of them fell for each other. It was a great progression to see when Swift kept Cas safe because she just cared about her own life and the transition to her keeping Cas safe because Cas's life matters to her. I shipped the two of them so much, though it wasn't always an easy and pain-free ship. The world in this book is really interesting. It's a very aquatic world, with pirates and other ships that they attack. The whole thing with the sea monsters is also interesting, since they are trained to guard ships and fight off the pirates. There is a lot involved with the training of them sometimes. It is definitely not a safe job. Cas has been trained to do this job throughout her life, though she never intended to do it on a pirate's ship. She questions the morality of many things throughout the story, learning that maybe she's almost as bad as the pirate's and hypocritical in thinking that what they do is wrong and what she does is right. If you like YA sci-fi or just books with good character relationships, read this book.
DahlELama More than 1 year ago
Welp, that's jumping in the ranks of both my favorite sci-fis and my favorite f/f ships. I've also never read a book I would so distinctly rec to animal lovers, but there you have it! The voice is killer, I love this world, I LOVE THAT THEY ARE PIRATES AND THERE IS A BAMF-Y AND TERRIFYING PIRATE QUEEN, and ugh, Cas is such a great heroine. Cannot wait for book 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping and imaginative, this book is definitely worth the read.