The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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.

"[A] fresh and fascinating look at a lawless future." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"Skrutskie adeptly creates a fantastical world of ruthless pirates; lovable, deadly creatures; and dynamic characters."--School Library Journal

"This is a solid, well-crafted, new adventure story with an interesting, unusual hook."--Booklist

"Skrutskie creates an intriguing fantasy world full of floating cities, ruthless monsters, betrayals, and unlikely friendships."--Publishers Weekly

"The Abyss Surrounds Us is richly drawn, a science-fiction universe with its own set of laws and customs."--ForeWord Reviews

"This futuristic novel is a true pleasure to read."--VOYA

"The Abyss Surrounds Us is highly original and addictive."--SLJTeen

Publisher: Woodbury, Minnesota : Flux, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780738746913
Branch Call Number: YA FIC Skrut
Characteristics: 273 pages : map


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jun 12, 2018

Yeah this book was good. Just good. No boring part, unique and entertaining!

Feb 06, 2018

Highly introspective; conceptually strong (if biologically questionable) and character-driven. Characters can suffer from inconsistency, but under the circumstances, so might we all.

SCL_Toby Jul 13, 2017

This story follows Cassandra Leung, a seventeen year old girl who trains sea monsters to fight pirates. The novel is set on Earth, many years in the future, after sea levels have risen high enough to drastically change the world. This story is compelling and exciting, with a rich cast of characters that deal with hard questions and moral ambiguities in a fantastic way. I enjoyed reading this book very much and I am looking forward to the sequel.

Jun 16, 2017

YES. THIS IS THE BOOK I WAS LOOKING FOR AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT. I knew I wanted a speculative fiction story with a gay, bi, lesbian, or otherwise queer main character, but I didn't know this would be exactly what I wanted.

an amazing sea monster pirate adventure grappling with morality AND ALSO a really convincing girl/girl romance???? MORE OF THIS IN THE WORLD, PLEASE.

Read this book. (Have the sequel, The Edge of the Abyss, on hand -- you'll need it.) Read it if you like adventure and worldbuilding and depth (sometimes literal depth! in the ocean!) and complex characters and SO MUCH MORE. Vivid imagery and cinematic detail! A plot that just won't stop! Giant monster sea turtles named after steamed buns! STEAMED BUNS!!

I cannot contain my excitement for this book. It's that great. I want to tell everyone about it and make sure no one possibly misses it.

My only regret is that I did not take the time to savor it and its sequel, because now that I'm done with both of them, I don't know how to find a readalike.

Dec 02, 2016

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.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 25, 2016

cklkjs thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top