Book Review: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

by - 3:46:00 AM

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Pages: 320
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 18 April 2017

From Goodreads: "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?"

Thank you to Flux Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

This book was everything I wanted it to be and then some. I honestly could not have asked for anything better and the wait was absolutely worth it. I read The Abyss Surrounds Us back in December 2015, so the wait for a sequel has been long and hard indeed. But I absolutely loved every single page in The Edge of the Abyss and I think it was a wonderful ending to a fantastic duology!

"It's got more monsters, more pirates, more salty pirate language, and way more "equal footing" than the first book." -Emily Skrutskie

Three weeks have passed since Cas Leung fled the shore and everything she knew, pledged her allegiance to the pirate queen, Santa Elena, and let loose the Reckoner, Bao, she was forced to train. Being a pirate trainee is difficult, but not as difficult as being forced to work with the pirate girl who broke her heart. But bigger problems arise when Cas realizes that Bao isn't the only Reckoner swimming free. Illegally sold Reckoners have broken free from their captors and are attacking ships in the NeoPacific and destroying the biosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas may be the only one that can stop them and save the waters, but can she harm the creatures she's always loved and protected?

I knew going into this book that it was going to be amazing, but it absolutely blew all of my expectations out of the water. There was so much more to this book and I couldn't believe that there was so much packed into 320 pages. You get amazing character development from Cas, relationship development with Cas and Swift, more world building, more monsters, more pirates, just plain more. I really enjoyed the internal struggle that Cas went through when it came to having to fight the Reckoners (or Hellbeasts as they named them as they were not trained like Reckoners were) because it basically came down to where her loyalties were- with Santa Elena on the ship or back on the shore with her family and what had been basically her whole life. The relationship between Cas and Swift was, once again, not the main focal point, but still a big part of the story. There was a lot of back and forth between them, but it really helped drive the plot forwards, especially when it came to character development for Cas. A new element of this story that was really interesting to read about was the Salt system and just how many other pirate ships there were. It's not something that's really touched on in the first one, but you're introduced to several different pirate captains that are so different in so many ways. I loved that the world was expanded on with this element, and it was great to see that even pirates will work together when it comes to saving their ocean. The rogue monsters that show up were so incredibly scary to read about, because I was so used to the trained Reckoners. Hellbeasts are assumed to be the stolen and sold Reckoners that have escaped from their pirate ships and now occupy the NeoPacific. It was really terrifying to think that there were these literal giant monsters living out in the ocean and basically destroying everything in their path! Going from trained killing machines to rogue killing machines was such a wild ride, but it was so much fun at the same time. With this being the concluding book, you get all of the resolution you could have wanted when it comes to relationships and life choices, and an ending that closes things up with a beautiful bow on top but could also leave an opening for future books. Everything flowed so well and there was never a time where I felt bored or like there wasn't anything happening when it came to the story and as I said above, I couldn't have asked for anything better. It's fast paced and action packed with tons of monsters and a beautiful but still rocky romance that you can't help but ship.

I really hope someone appreciates these subtle (but not really) sea/ocean/ship jokes I'm tossing in.

There was so much character development with Cas in this book and I could not get enough of it. I said above that I enjoyed the internal struggle that Cas was experiencing with where her loyalties lied, and I absolutely meant it. Of course it was hard seeing her trying to deal with that, but I loved how it helped shape her character as a whole. She was constantly fighting against all of the training and the way she had been raised in order to please Santa Elena and try to more adequately adapt to her new life at sea. She was constantly up and down and trying to figure out where she needed to be as a person throughout the entire book, but she finally found her place at the end and I could not be more happy with the path she took and the choices she made. Cas has completely evolved from the shore girl she used to be into an amazing person who knows what (and who!) she wants and isn't afraid to go for it. It's silly, but I felt like such a proud momma watching her essentially grow up throughout not only this book, but book one as well. Cas holds such a special place in my heart and I will forever consider her one of my all-time favorite book characters.

The relationship between Cas and Swift also got some serious attention in the book. But just like with the first one, it wasn't the main focal point, and that was something I really appreciated. Not only is the relationship between two females, but it's written in such a beautiful way that never feels like it's being forced down your throat. As you read about what these two characters are going through, you find yourself wanting them to be together and wanting them to work things out because they're just so darn good for one another. Sure, they don't always agree or get alone, and they definitely don't have the most perfect relationship ever, but they're always willing to try to work things out or work towards a solution that works for the both of them. This is such a healthy relationship and I love that it's not perfect, because it just feels right. I mean, let's be real, they're pirates that are on a ship for long periods of time and, not only that, but they're both fighting to eventually take over for the captain. There's going to be stress and conflict, of course, but it's handled so well and so realistically that you just find yourself shipping the two of them so hard from start to finish.

Seriously, anyone laughing at these awesome puns?

I also really enjoyed the side characters, Lemon, Varma, Chuck, and Santa Elena. They were all so perfectly pirate-y and I loved the way that each of them interacted with Cas. Of course, Santa Elena is ruthless and tough to be around, and she does kind of blackmail Cas at one point, but I respected her a lot. We got some backstory on how she became the captain of the Minnow, and I couldn't help but admire her and some of the choices she had to make in order to get where she was at. Lemon, Varma, and Chuck were just really great friends for Cas to kind of lean on, however temporary it may have been. But they all looked out for each other no matter what and that's definitely something that Cas needed with all that she was having to go through in this book.

I can honestly say that I've never read a book about giant sea monsters and pirates before. The Abyss Surrounds Us and The Edge of the Abyss are so unique and fantastic and unlike anything you've ever encountered with a young adult book series before. The world itself is so beautiful, with giant sea monsters and floating cities, and then you have these pirates that are strong yet still caring and funny. There's such an eclectic mix of so many different things all wrapped up in this one book that all add up to making it a huge success. I think the fact that it's so different from other YA books out there is what makes it stronger. There's so much gorgeous description of the ships, monsters, the Flotilla, and even the ocean. You really get a sense that you're on the ship looking for Hellbeasts or celebrating the New Year with fireworks and food on the Flotilla and it's such a unique experience to just sit down and get lost in the world that Emily Skrutskie has created. There's nothing else like it out there and definitely a duology that no one should miss.

If you're looking for a duology filled with pirates, sea monsters, an LGBT romance, and an incredible story line, then these are the books for you. The Abyss Surrounds Us starts off the series with a cannonball bang and The Edge of the Abyss will sail straight into your heart and wrap things up nice and neat.

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