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. Praise:"[A] fresh and fascinating look at a lawless future." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "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 highly original and addictive."—SLJTeen
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Leung has been preparing her whole life to train Reckoners, genetically altered beasts raised to defend the Southern Republic of California's fleet against pirate vessels. Cas's first mission to guard the cruise ship Nereid sounds easy enough, but it quickly turns into a disaster. Her Reckoner, "a big dumb turtle four times the weight of a blue whale," dies, leaving their ship vulnerable, and Cas is taken captive on the pirate ship Minnow. While onboard, she is forced to raise a stolen Reckoner to do the pirates' bidding while learning how to survive among corrupt crewmembers and the merciless captain, Santa Elena. In her debut novel, Skrutskie creates an intriguing fantasy world full of floating cities, ruthless monsters, betrayals, and unlikely friendships. Her dynamic characters come from a slew of ethnic backgrounds, further contributing to a rich landscape. Cas's descent into pirate life is as unexpected as it is full of action, and her journey to find her place on the ship should keep readers riveted. Ages 12 up.