Tag Archives: girls with swords

Defy the Stars – another stellar YA SciFi read 

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Defy the Stars – another stellar YA SciFi read 

Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars is another amazing addition to the YA SciFi genre.  If you enjoyed Ami Kauffman’s Illuminae, you definitely want to give this book a look.  I gave this book my rare five star rating because it grabbed my imagination and high jacked my evening from the first chapter.


Goodreads Summary

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

My Thoughts

What a great read!  Plenty of action and suspense kept me glued to this one for a straight read through.  There is attention and detail given to the building of characters and a fascinating new world.  I cared about these characters and the conflicts that drove them.  I liked the fact that the relationship between the main characters is believable despite the seeming impossibility of feelings and AI. It is also a timely read – Westworld has us questioning what it means to be a human while current political debates have us thinking about isolationism, terrorism, and the environment.  This book does a great job of giving readers room to consider these issues in a thoughtful way without ruining the story for those who just want a good escape read.  I’m definitely adding it to my high school classroom library wishlist, and I have already seen it in our high school library (but it won’t be there for long once I start talking it up).  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+, but it will appeal to adult readers of YA as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Shadow Run – Her Ship. His Plan. Their Survival

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Shadow Run – Her Ship. His Plan. Their Survival

When you put the idea out there that a book is for fans of Firefly and Dune, there is going to be a lot of expectation and some skepticism.  I have never gotten through Dune – I tried, but I thought it was boring.  I do, however, drop everything when Firefly or Serenity show up on the TV.  Don’t expect a Captain Tightpants, but it is pretty shiny.  I gave Shadow Run 4 stars.


Goodreads Summary

They can steal her home. They can attack her ship. But they cannot touch her crew.

Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is a rust bucket.

As for Nev, he’s handsome and impetuous—and Qole and the crew have no idea that he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary. Word of Nev’s presence on board spreads quickly to other ships, however. Soon a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Before he knows it, Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her.

To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

My Thoughts

Shadow Run is a  great read from beginning to end. I loved the action, which felt pretty non-stop.  It is surprising how much character development actually made it into the story considering that the crisis mode is on continually.  I will say I didn’t connect with the female narrator until the second half of the book, but the male narrator is a pretty solid anchor until that point.  Fans of Firefly will find the tightknit crew and the complete inability to do anything the easy way very satisfying.  Themes of honesty, integrity, and finding your real home add nice depth to the adventure.  I’m definitely adding it to my high school classroom library and recommending it to fans of Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae, Tessa Elwood’s Inherit the Stars,  and other fast-paced action reads.  Language and situations are suitable for grades 8+, but adult readers of YA will find it enjoyable as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ice Massacre – These are the mermaids Homer warned you about, but these aren’t your average sailors

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Ice Massacre – These are the mermaids Homer warned you about, but these aren’t your average sailors

Mermaids aren’t my thing, but a ship full of warrior women out to exterminate them had some real possibilities.  It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was engaging enough to keep me reading for a few hours straight.  I ultimately gave it only three stars, but other reviewers on Goodreads were more impressed.

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Goodreads Summary

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return.

Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

My Thoughts

I loved the idea of a ship of warrior women going out to conquer the enemy that was holding their society captive.  The battle scenes were interesting and tense, and the enemy was frightening and still managed to retain the universal “human” qualities necessary for the plot to make sense.  I loved the close friendships the main character had, and overall, I was engaged.  The problem for me really came in some of the details.  The time frame was murky for me – wooden ships but also helicopters.  I wish that had been clarified in the development of the setting simply because it would have helped me stop wondering about it every time I saw something that seemed off.  I also had trouble with some of the logic of sending only newbies out for the massacre.  Why weren’t the seasoned warriors accompanying these girls?  If things were so desperate, why weren’t the ones with experience on board to guide these untried fighters? This society just sends a bunch of eighteen year old girls out without any help?  Nope.  I also had to ask what exactly they had been doing in their five years of training since they had few team tactics or a developed sense of discipline and respect for leadership.  They are teen girls, but basic training in the military manages to instill those traits, and it doesn’t take five years.  These questions kept me from being able to immerse myself fully in the book, so, while they might be small issues (and ones I think could easily have been fixed) they were important.  I liked the story, and I would be interested in seeing what happens next, but tightening up the holes in logic would have made this book so much stronger.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Francesca Haig’s The Map of Bones 

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Francesca Haig’s The Map of Bones 

If you are a fan of post apocalyptic YA, you should give Francesca Haig’s The Fire Sermon series a try.  If you are hesitant because of the twin thing, just know that it is a lot less bizarre and a lot more believable than the premise makes it sound.  The second book, The Map of Bones, was one of my most anticipated reads this year.  I won’t lie – it started way too slow for my liking, but, oh, when it picked up, it really picked up.

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Goodreads Summary

Book Two in the critically acclaimed The Fire Sermon trilogy—The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined post-apocalyptic series by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

My Thoughts

I was expecting a fast paced and action packed follow up.  I was a little annoyed when I didn’t initially get what I wanted.  The first half of this book is slow going.  Political maneuvering and the emotional fallout that Cass faces in dealing with the death of her friend and lover take up a good part of the book.  It wasn’t until I had almost given up that the story began to pick up steam.  The second half definitely delivered the action that I was looking for, and I have to say I didn’t see where this plot was headed until it was hitting me square in the shocked (happy) face.  I think this would have been a more engaging book if the author had taken less time to develop the characters and the political climate, but I think that the series would have ultimately suffered for it.  If you liked The Fire Sermon, I think you owe it to yourself to pick up the sequel.  I encourage you to persevere through the first half, because it is definitely worth it.  Myself, I’m beginning the impatient watch for book three.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but adult readers of YA will enjoy the series just as much.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bright Blaze of Magic – Jennifer Estep wraps up her YA Urban Fantasy series

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Bright Blaze of Magic – Jennifer Estep wraps up her YA Urban Fantasy series

Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series almost lost me with the second book, Dark Heart of Magic , which lost a lot of the things I loved about the first book, Cold Burn of Magic.  I’m happy to report that this book, the third (and possibly final) in the series, brought back all the warrior woman, action packed, mafia maneuvering that I could desire.

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Goodreads Summary

“The characters are as fantastic as Estep fans have come to expect.” – RT Book Reviews

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

“An adventurous ride you will never want to get off.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout on Cold Burn of Magic

My Thoughts

Bright Blaze of Magic is exactly what I wanted in the third book of Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series.  The action kicks off quickly and doesn’t let up until the very end.  The fast pace and focused plot make for a quick and engaging read.  I have to admit that the second book, Dark Heart of Magic, was a disappointment for me with its draggy pace and love-sick teen drama, but Estep regained her footing in this story by giving us back the smart and impetuous thief we all adored in Cold Burn of Magic.  That’s right, folks, the real Lila is back, and she isn’t going to let the Draconi’s take away her new family.  Don’t get me wrong, Lila’s character arc is still in motion, and she has given up her loner status, but she seems to have found her place and purpose and that makes all the difference.  I really felt like this book pulled the series all together, and resolved some long-standing conflicts in a satisfying way.  I’m not sure where Lila’s story will go next, but I’m definitely looking forward to finding out.  Word on the street is that this is the last book in the series, but I didn’t feel that finality, so I can dream, right?  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Shadow Queen – You haven’t seen a Snow White like this

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The Shadow Queen – You haven’t seen a Snow White like this

This reimagining of Snow White added a few important twists to the story that I really felt brought new life to a tired fairy tale.  There are no dwarves. Thankfully. There is a huntsman, but he has a lot more riding on capturing the wayward princess than he ever has before.  There is magic – big magic – tied to land and intentions and heart.  And this pretty princess with skin as white as snow?  Well, she doesn’t need a rescue.  She is a hardcore warrior in her own right, and this version of the story makes it clear that her courage is the real thing that packs a punch and not some idealized virtue that sounds nice in a eulogy.

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Goodreads Summary

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

My Thoughts

I have to admit that I’m almost done with fairy tale revisions, and I had to take a break before starting over and giving this book my real attention.  I’m glad I took that break.  This book does deserve to be savored rather than devoured simply because the relationships are complex, the dangers feel real, and just when you want to cover your eyes or slam the book closed, another turn of events keeps you in the game.  Lorelai, the protagonist, is easy to connect with, and a strong female protagonist I believe my high school readers will admire and enjoy.  There is a bit of romance, and the author nicely sidesteps the dreaded insta-love by providing a deeper connection.  I think most readers will be quite pleased with their relationship and the relationships throughout this book.  It reminded me of Princess of Thorns a bit, and if you enjoyed that book, I feel sure this one will grab you as well.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wish list and recommending it to all my readers who like their ladies tough and true.  Language and situations are appropriate for middle and high school readers, but adult readers will enjoy it as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Daughters of Ruin – Don’t judge this one by its cover, or its summary. Really, you should just read my review.

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Daughters of Ruin – Don’t judge this one by its cover, or its summary.  Really, you should just read my review.

This was a pretty fierce read.  Ignore the cover and the summary because they both fail to really impart how vicious and bloodthirsty this book is.  I admit it sounds sweet – four future queens raised to be sisters and guardians of peace.  However, something went seriously wrong with this plan because each new scene pits these girls against each other in everything from hand-to-hand combat to the subtle art of mean girling.

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Goodreads Summary

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses…and they are enemies.

Not long ago, a brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye. For ten years the girls have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace.

But there is rarely peace among sisters. Sheltered Rhea was raised to rule everyone—including her “sisters”—but she’s cracking under pressure. The charismatic Cadis is desperately trying to redeem her people from their actions during the war. Suki guards deep family secrets that isolate her, and quiet Iren’s meekness is not what it seems.

All plans for peace are shattered when the palace is attacked. As their intended futures lie in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

My Thoughts

I think my high school readers are going to be wildly engaged by this book.  It isn’t just the fact that the plot is full of action packed fight scenes.  This book also manages to concisely convey the universal emotions and doubts inherent in coming of age.  Add in the surprising twists of plot and unexpected reversal of characters, and you have a story that is guaranteed to captivate a wide range of readers.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t sold on a book that involved four narrative voices, and I did have a preference for Rhea, the initial narrative voice.  However, I am now convinced that this was a pretty smart move on the part of the author because it acts as a device that rotates the story so readers get a 360′ view of the plot, which maximizes the depth of the twists and betrayals.  I know I’m gushing here, and I’m not sure that this book is gush-worthy for a few simple reasons.  The narrative sometimes felt disjointed.  There are clearly chapters that are styled with purpose and intent to be disjointed, but several times outside of those chapters, I found myself having to retread passages that just weren’t smooth enough to be clear.  I also didn’t really connect emotionally with these characters. Two characters were, I believe, distant by design.  However, I still struggled to embrace the two characters I felt I was suppose to connect with, which I think is the fallout of having four narrative voices.  I don’t think these issues interfered with my overall enjoyment of this book, and I would recommend it to my high school students, particularly those who have enjoyed books like Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen or Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass.  The characters are distinct, crafty, and battle hardened lady warriors, and I found them quite intriguing.  I can’t wait to get a copy or three in my classroom library. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but I think a lot of adult readers of YA will enjoy this just as much.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

If you know me and my books at all, you know I cannot resist a time travel story, and there have been many of them to choose from this year.  While this wasn’t my favorite (that was Into the Dim if you were wondering), it was certainly the one that provoked the most thought.  Complex and thoughtful, I believe this book will have a wide appeal.

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Goodreads Summary

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

My Thoughts

This book has a slow start despite the action the protagonist finds herself thrown into within the first few chapters.  It gradually picks up steam, and readers who stick with it long enough will find a very compelling adventure full of love, betrayal, and time travel to far flung reaches.  Etta and Nicholas are the major players in this story, and their relationship is complicated by a variety of surprising elements that make for suspense and uncertainty right up until the final moments of the book.  While Etta is the protagonist, I actually think readers will find Nicholas the more complex and intriguing character – his backstory is heartbreaking and well developed.  He adds some needed diversity to the YA literary scene, and his situation will inspire some thoughtful consideration.  He will also allow this book to be one that my high school guys can enjoy as much as my high school girls.

Etta is a less well drawn character.  Her motivation in the book is  a little at odds with the initial image readers are given of her relationship to her mother.  She does, however, find a lot of growth as a result of her experiences and she has a determination and loyalty that will play well with the female YA demographic.  While I didn’t feel an intense connection with her, I think others will.

The plot is one that takes a bit of unravelling.  Readers will have to invest a bit of time to get the payoff, but I think it is worth the effort.  At times the romantic relationship took a frustrating amount of time, and that slowed the action, but it does create a more complex story and I think most YA readers will appreciate the time dedicated to developing this sub-plot.  I do think a bit more time could be spent explaining the time traveling concept, but it is clear enough for readers who can suspend disbelief and just roll with it.  My impression is that this is a purposeful lack of detail, one that will come into play as the series evolves.  I say that because the story does end with a clear arrow pointing towards more books. While it isn’t a terrible cliff-hanger of a “resolution,” it does leave the reader with unresolved conflicts, and that irritates some people beyond reason.  I wasn’t outraged, but I will be anticipating the next book starting today.

Overall, I think fans of all ages and both genders will find something to enjoy in this book.  I’m certainly adding it to my classroom library wish list and recommending it to fans of time travel and action reads.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Siren’s Song is exactly the conclusion readers want from Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy

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Siren’s Song is exactly the conclusion readers want from Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy

If you like Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, I think you will enjoy Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy.  They have similar elements and similar feels, though they ultimately head in completely different directions.  The best part, though, is that Weber’s trilogy is finished (and each ebook only costs $5.99).  The final book, Siren’s Song, published this month, and I think it was the best of the three.  However, you have to read this series in order.  The first book is Storm Siren and the second is Siren’s Fury.   The third book, Siren’s Song, is exactly the ending that the Storm Siren trilogy needs.  If you have read the previous two books, it would be a big mistake to miss this resolution.

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Goodreads Summary

Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.

My Thoughts

Fans of the series will be quite pleased with the mix of action, danger and thwarted romance.  Yes, I said thwarted romance – Bron is free of the Draewolf, but he could be a ticking time bomb, and Nym can’t really take the chance, especially since she is the final puzzle piece in the prophecy.  According to Bron, at least. Gah.  This is only one of many sacrifices Nym may be faced with making, and as the stakes get higher, it becomes apparent that she might have to sacrifice everything if she is going to give her people a chance at survival.  That threat is present and real all the way through this journey, and the suspense makes for a great read.   Seriously, the more questions the story answered, the more uncertain I became about the fate of Nym, her friends, and her world’s survival.  I enjoyed this series, and this final book is really the best of the three.  This series is engaging and the romance is compelling, but I love the fact that it doesn’t have any language or situations that compromise my ability to add it to my classroom library. It is appropriate for grades 7+, but adults will enjoy it as well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Abyss Surrounds Us has a wildly original premise that I just couldn’t pass up

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The Abyss Surrounds Us has a wildly original premise that I just couldn’t pass up

I’m betting that YA scifi/fantasy fans will have a hard time not sampling this book out of curiosity.  I’m betting more than a few of them will stay for the ride.  I certainly couldn’t resist it because I loved the concept of sea monsters trained to defend against pirates, and I loved the complicated internal struggle that the plot creates for the protagonist.  While I did enjoy most of the book, I struggled with a few parts, so this is a three star read for me, but will that really stop anyone from picking up a book where sea monsters fight pirates?  No.  No, it will not.

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Goodreads Summary

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.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

My Thoughts

Cassandra is a well developed and complex character who I genuinely liked for her honest response to her bad situation.  She loves and loathes the decisions she has to make, and that makes her feel less like a character and more like a real person.  The secondary characters also had some depth that added a nice element of unpredictability to the plot.  It was easy to see how Cassandra’s initial resolve began to waiver as she learned more about her enemy.  I didn’t particularly care for the romantic relationship for some reason. I thought there was a lot of care taken to give the relationship time and reason to develop, but, in the end, I just didn’t buy it as romantic – friendship, yes, but romantic love, eh.  Other readers might not feel the same way, but I wasn’t sold.  I wasn’t quite happy with the resolution because I was a little confused about what decision Cassandra was making – was she fooled, did she not care, or was she plotting a stealth revenge?  It was a hard twist to take in at the end, but that is something that might bring readers back for a follow up read.  Overall, I think this is a pretty cool concept, and I think my high school readers would find it novel and engaging as well.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.