The Abyss Surrounds Us, Book 2; published in 2017; 281 pages. ★★★★☆
Every burst of fireworks feels somewhere between a prelude to war and a statement of purpose. We’re here. We’re alive. And we’re going to light you up.
Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.
But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?
Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?
If I’m honest with myself, I think The Edge of the Abyss is my second-most-anticipated release of 2017, following only Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer. The Abyss Surrounds Us was an absolute delight, refreshing in its originality, complexity, and casual diversity – at once a rollicking science fiction story, an exploration of moral questions, and a confident assertion that the future holds a place for all people. It also ended on a frankly vicious cliffhanger, and I’ve been longing for its sequel ever since. And after all that, it did live up to my expectations… for the most part. I want more. I want so much more, some of it that I wish had been in this book and some of which I’m still hoping for. That is, in the end, a testament to the strength of the world, story, and characters that Skrutskie has created – but it does mean that I feel The Abyss Surrounds Us to be the stronger book. Cliffhanger aside, it felt like the more complete of the two.