Author: Emily Skrutskie
Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us Duology
Genre: Science fiction
Release Date: April 18, 2017
eARC received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Three weeks after turning her back on everything she was raised to believe and pledging her allegiance to Pirate Queen Santa Elena, Cas is confronted with a threat the scale of which dwarfs everything she's faced to date. When she released Bao, the Reckoner she trained, she thought he was the only one, but they soon discover that many of the Reckoner pups illegally sold to pirates have escaped over the years and are now a threat to the ocean ecosystem.
Review at a Glance: An overall engaging and fast-paced and action-packed sequel that I wish had been a bit longer and had a bit more development!
Review: I still really like the idea of this duology (genetically engineered sea monsters! pirates!) Anyway. Onto the actual review-y bits of the review, rather than just me talking about sea monsters. This was quite a quick read, and an enjoyable conclusion to the story that started in The Abyss Surrounds Us. When we left Cas, she'd just sworn her loyalty to a fairly ruthless pirate, released Bao, and found out that Swift was responsible for Durga's death. She's just trying to get her feet under her- between her new duties and avoiding Swift, she's got enough work cut out for her.
Cas was a kind of confusing character for me this time around, it took me at least 50% of the book to really get back into her head space. I'm not really sure why, it might just have been my mood, but her thought and decision-making processes weren't really something I followed. Part of it, I think was that this was such a quick read and it took me a while to start connecting with her again... so by the time that happened, it felt like the book was almost over. She works through a lot (shifting loyalties, Santa Elena making things difficult, Swift, the whole ocean being in danger...), and I overall found myself really appreciating her character arc, especially once I did succeed in getting back into her head!
Her relationship with Swift was complicated in this book, and not in a way I particularly enjoyed... I'm not a fan of back-and-forth, hot-and-cold kind of relationships so it was for me frustrating to read, even though I understood why it was the way it was. Swift wasn't someone that I always liked, and I wish we'd been able to see her grow a bit more as a person (not that she's not allowed to be flawed... I just wish that we'd seen her do a little bit of work on those flaws). I think that their relationship was another thing that might have benefited from having a bit more time (ex. 100 more pages) to develop.
I did really appreciate the action in this one- there's pretty much always something going on! For such a short book, there are a lot of settings and characters that the readers are introduced to, which lends the book a slightly rushed feeling (something that fits well with the fact that things are a little frantic a lot of the time). All of this leads to a pretty fantastic and high-stakes climax (one that felt pretty cinematic, if that makes sense).
Overall, I really enjoyed this conclusion! The plot was strong and the action was great, though I feel that more character-driven aspects of the story would have benefited from a little more time to develop.