5/5 – The first official five-star rating I’m giving to a book and I’m about to explain why. There are three characters in this book that I think are very well written. One is our protagonist, Cas. The second is Swift, the love interest. The third is Santa Elena, the antagonist. Except, the three of them don’t fit neatly into those categories at all. This is one of the few YA novels I’ve read that deals with complicated moral codes. I’m not saying there aren’t others out there, but this was one where all three of these characters were morally gray and I loved it. I particularly loved Cas’s journey throughout the book. Which, I won’t say much more about, but when I saw the bold The End on the last page I wasn’t sure what to think. Was I rooting for her? Was I disappointed? I don’t know, honestly and that questioning of the protagonist’s choices is excellent.
Despite their decisions being seen by some as wrong, there are legitimate reasons behind doing what they do and all three of them are protecting someone. Wouldn’t you do anything for someone you loved? Our world isn’t black and white and even though we’re in a time where it’s easy to get caught up in that dichotomy, it’s not that simple all the time. In the world of The Abyss Surrounds Us, it’s the same thing. The people Cas thinks are horrible people, the pirates who capture her and imprison her, they are human and are out to protect themselves and their families.
Now, there’s one more point I’d like to touch on and that’s the romance aspect. This is a f/f romance and I have a type, let’s be honest, so that’s why I picked up this book. However, this book intertwines the relationship between Cas and Swift so well that it’s not a YA romance where two people instantly fall in love and live happily ever after. It’s incredibly complicated. In fact, their relationship isn’t romantic at all, because they are not on equal footing. Cas is a prisoner and Swift is part of the crew holding her captive. In fact, Santa Elena the Captain of the ship, intertwines their lives so if Cas fails in training the Reckoner, they both die. So, not only are Swift’s intentions unknown to Cas (the book is in first person perspective), but when Swift’s feelings are revealed it’s not a warm reception.
In fact here’s an excerpt from that scene:
“Swift,” I start, but I don’t know what to finish it with.
“Forget…forget I said anything. It was off base. I-“
“Swift, I’m a goddamn prisoner on this ship.”
“I know. I-“
“We aren’t on equal footing, not in the slightest. You realize how messed up this is?”
“Cas, I didn’t mean I want to-“
“I’m in no position to be thinking about any of that shit right now. I’ve got bigger problems to deal with than you and your feelings.” (Skrutskie, 166)
End. Fucking. Scene. Holy shit! This is absolutely a realistic reaction to your captor telling you they have feelings for you. Even if you are starting to have feelings for them too. When both of your lives are in danger you don’t go on a whirlwind romance, you fight to stay alive and that is just one more reason I loved this fucking book. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to see how the story concludes in The Edge of the Abyss.