Tag Archives: YA

Review of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie

I purchased a paperback copy of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie.

Description from Goodreads:

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 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. 

There’s no time to mourn. 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, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea. 

Spoilerish Review:

Those in my book circle seem to love this book and I can see why. Perfectly readable writing, YA lesbian leads, a bad-ass female pirate captain, racial/identity/economic diversity, acknowlegement of power differences, dads and brothers who play domestic roles while women work, all things it’s nice to encounter, and even better when gender norms are perverted, not just swapped. The characters are natural in their role and the author doesn’t play it up for points. 

But the simple overall fact of the matter is that, despite liking aspects of the book, I didn’t enjoy the book. I felt that Cassandra’s sudden siding with her captors simply because she’d gotten to know some of them was beyond plebeian. Her sudden willingness to kill her own because she’d become attached to one person made me grit my teeth. It’s far too weak a motivation. 

And the ending? Well, I feel like the villain won. Nothing in the ending felt satisfying. I didn’t feel like Cassandra accomplished anything or grew. In fact, she put herself in the hands of her enemy. Nope. I was not happy with the ending.

Review of The Reluctant Sacrifice (The Aramithians), by Kerr-Ann Dempster

I In March of 2017 The Reluctant Sacrifice, by Kerr-Ann Dempster, was free on Amazon. I picked up a copy of it at that time.

Description from Goodreads:

Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope… 

If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith. 

Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar. 

Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind? 

Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart. 

It could kill her.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, so much as just uninspired. It has all the cliched YA tropes people are tired of seeing: the love triangle, the chosen one, the ‘let me throw myself at a boy sexually to forget my problems,’ the heroine who doesn’t do her hair or make-up normally, the prom-style dress that makes her a pretty-pretty princess for a night, the sassy best friend, etc. There’s nothing new or exciting here.

The writing was perfectly serviceable, but again, not anything marvelous. And there were a few big editing mishaps, like someone touching the exposed skin above a waistband, when we’d been told the character was in a dress. However, there was also a lot left too shadowed in the universe and plot. So much feeling and decision-making is supposed to hinge on the feelings and events from childhoods that we don’t see that it felt baseless.

There were also some strange things going on with age. 12-year-olds French kissing, 15-year-olds expertly manipulating people with sex, and no one questioning how a 16/17-year-old has numerous tattoos, for example. Not that such things can’t happen, it’s just that they felt truly strange and out of place here. Like the author imagined all her characters as just a bit older than she made them and then forgot.

I’d have said this was just a meh book, if not for one big problem. The whole premise that puts the three main characters together is preposterous. To say I was incredulous that the character that wanted Aubrey dead as badly as he did would have the compassion to allow the events of this story is putting it mildly. I suspect it was supposed to make him a grey character, instead of a villain. But it just red as wishy-washy and unbelievable. And if the very bedrock a book is build on is as shaky as this, nothing else stands on it. The book is supposed to be about life and death and a fight to survive, but the things that actually happen….a party, and getting to school everyday, and flirting, and going to work. None of it really hung together, I’m sorry to say. And then the unfounded mysticism was dropped in at the end. Nope, none of it worked.

Review of Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve


I borrowed an audio copy of Philip Reeve‘s Mortal Engines through the library.

Description from Goodreads:

London is a city on wheels – a future city like you’ve never known before. In the terrible aftermath of the Sixty Minute War, cities which survived the apocalypse became predators, chasing and feeding on smaller towns. Now London is hunting down its prey, getting ready to feed. But as the chase begins, Tom uncovers a secret – a secret full of deadly consequences. Soon he is plunged into a world of unkillable enemies, threatened by a weapon that will tear his life apart…

Review (with spoiler):

Ugh, a young, beautiful, innocent girl sacrifices herself for the sins of a man and all that can be saved are. The evil give up their dastardly ways, the vengeful forsake their life-long quest for revenge and the cowardly become brave. In her death she averts disaster and saves the masses. Welp, no one has ever seen that plot device before, surely. <<—sarcasm to the utmost. Nor have we seen lack of beauty equated with lack value or a boy shown as virtuous because he’s willing to look past a physical deformity. Nope, never ever have we seen this. <<—more contemptuous sarcasm. 

I thought the world was interesting and the writing engaging, but the rest of it was just dull as dishwater. It’s all been done before and I didn’t like it anymore here than anywhere else. I don’t intend to continue the series and, while I read the book in order to see the movie, I just don’t think I can be bothered after all. Barnaby Edwards did a fine job with the narration though.