“No matter who I am or where I go, there’s nothing that can strip away the way the sea takes my heart. It’s the one constant that keeps me grounded as my life has been pulled up by the roots and turned inside out over the past months. Every time I look over the ocean, no matter where I stand, I feel right.”
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie was a wonderful sequel to her debut novel, The Abyss That Surrounds Us. There were many things within the pages of this YA Science-Fiction novel that kept me glued to it. Like its predecessor, I ended up marathoning the book. Being a slow reader by nature, this is an occurrence that rarely happens with me. The fact that both of her books could hook me from beginning to end within a span of 24 hours, means that I have a new favourite author to add to my gold-star bin, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it.
For anyone out there who may be reading this review who has yet to read The Abyss That Surrounds Us, I will keep the synopsis to the point and vague as to avoid spoilers.
We continue onwards with Cassandra Leung’s adventures in the wake of events after her encounter with the Minnow and Captain Santa Elena. The very existence and nature of the Reckoners is up for discussion as chaos begins to break free on the NeoPacific, one that Cas can’t help but feel the heavy burden of responsibility for.
Emily Skrutskie’s second novel is packed with high-stakes nautical ass-kickings, overwhelmingly terrifying yet magnificent creatures, a gathering of pirates unlike any you could imagine, and the complexities of an adult relationship amidst an identity crisis. These aspects are tossed into a book with frustrating characters that piss you off, yet you can’t help but love or admire in one way or another and a plot that’s as simple as it is morally multifaceted.
As with most of my reviews, let’s look at all the excellent parts of the book, starting with the action. It was quite good and appropriately spaced out. Where The Abyss That Surrounds Us had more of a non-stop feel to it, book two breaks up the combat throughout the novel for natural plot progression. The descriptions of the sea-creatures and fighting scenes were easy to visualise. My only warning to readers out there is that if you’re unfamiliar with marine-life, you may have a more difficult time trying to differentiate one beasty from the next without a minor hand from Google.
One of the facets that I found to be rather fascinating was the pirate-politics. It surfaces to enlighten us on just what it means to be a pirate out on the NeoPacific, and how these criminals interact with others of their creed. The vast sea-network of maritime marauders all gather against a common crisis and in doing so it raises some curious questions in regards to morality and power struggles. Another question that arises, more like a philosophical debate of human nature, is—who’s more dangerous: the person who manipulates one into committing murder, or the person with the courage to actually commit it? The notion of the worse evil between the inventor of the gun or the wielder of the gun arises and creates some thought-provoking situations for Cas and the company she keeps.
These next two things I’m going to chat about aren’t flaws, or cons, but rather minor things that affected me personally. Objectively, I think they contribute to the overall nature of the book and the character growth. The first was the relationship between Cas and her love interest, which is continued from book one. I won’t give the name of the person to avoid providing spoilers, so I will simply refer to them as Lover.
Some serious shit goes down at the end of The Abyss That Surrounds Us and it leaves our protagonist in a very conflicted and emotional state of mind. She exhibits quite a bit of confusion and rage that is natural in that particular situation, and fear at having to start over. Like many people who must start offer after a huge traumatizing experience, and loss, Cas doesn’t want to face these new inner conflicts that have arisen. Her struggle is beautifully real and intimate. The focus on how self-healing and identity crisis works with starting anew is something that many readers will be able to empathize with as it feels innately human.
“A poor, lonely beast, severed from the purpose it was bred for, caught up in a world it doesn’t understand completely, latching on to the first bit of instinct that comes to it–I can’t avoid the irony as I look down on the monster that reflects back at me.”
This character development process I thoroughly enjoyed. What I didn’t care for was how it affected Cas’s interactions with Lover. It evolved via a ping-pong quality. Cas’s emotions are all over the fucking place, so were her interactions and her attitude with Lover. On an emotional level, it’s quite easy to identify with her plight. There is a whole lot of bloody complexity to their relationship, which is a breath of fresh air from the relationships in YA that are always tied off with pretty pink little bows. But after a while their indecisiveness started to feel repetitive, which did affect my interest. I wavered slightly, I won’t lie. Nonetheless, this is very much a personal preference and probably won’t elicit the same feelings or reactions from other readers. I may be the only one who was sitting in her bed, like:
The second part that shocked me more than annoyed me was the death of one the characters. It was so fucking abrupt and felt like it came out of nowhere. I’m about 120% sure that is the reaction that the author wants to evoke, but it still surprised me so much. I literally had to put the book down for a second and process what the bloody hell had just happened. Plot wise, it’s gorgeously ironic and brilliantly fitting. Independently for myself, it was just too damn unexpected. I had grown to really like this character, so getting bitch-slapped like that was… astounding. This is another reason Emily Skrutskie is a phenomenal author for me. She can extort highly unanticipated reactions from me, which I adore with my books!
After 1000+ words of prattling, my conclusion is simple… I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS TO EVERYONE WHO LOVED THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US!! If you have not yet read the first instalment, then please get off your lovely little arses and go do so ASAP! It will not disappoint.
4.75 sea apes outta 5!
The book releases on 18-Apr-2017!!
**Please note that any quotes used in my review may differ from those of the finalized book as mine were taken from an uncorrected proof!