It’s the last Saturday of the month, which means it’s Give a Sh*t Book Club time! Our pick this month is The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie.

On paper, this book has everything--genetically engineered sea monsters, a strong and capable heroine, ruthless pirates, the lawless high seas--and I was so tickled to find that it lived up to its considerable potential.

I liked how Cas starts out thinking she knows everything about good and bad, right and wrong, and then as she spends time among the pirates and gets to know them, her perspective gets a whole lot murkier. It’s not that she immediately buys into everything they say and comes to see them as the good guys--instead, she begins to see the problems with her old way of thinking AND with how Santa Elena runs her ship. No one is perfect and no one has the market cornered on righteousness. I also liked how Cas admits she would do bad things in order to save those she loves--it felt honest and true to her character.

June is pride month, and one of the reasons I picked this book is because of the f/f romance between Cas and Swift, her captor-turned-protector. I thought their slow-growing connection was super sweet, and I also appreciated how they acknowledge the power differential between them, as I don’t groove on romance with a power imbalance. Of course, at the end of the book they’re finally on equal footing, which is reason enough for me to want to snatch up the sequel post haste!

I thought the sci-fi elements were well done, especially Bao, Cas’s Reckoner. It was so cool watching her train him and connect with him, considering how massive and dangerous he was (and there were a few scenes that didn’t let us forget just HOW dangerous). I have to admit I was surprised and disappointed at the end when Cas just abandoned him to the deep. I would have expected her to be a little more attached to him and concerned about his welfare once he was on his own, especially with how much he seemed to depend on her before. Plus, all that work to train him and bond him to the ship…! It just wasn’t quite the ending I was hoping for with Cas and Bao. It makes me wonder if he’ll be back in the next book.

Overall, I had a great time reading The Abyss Surrounds Us, and I hope you did too! Comments are open below. Can’t wait to hear what you thought of this one!

And on a personal note: In honor of pride month, I made a donation to Lambda Literary, a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ writers. If you’re so inclined, you can donate here.