Top positive review
Brilliant. Perfect, really.
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2016
One of these days, G.S. Jennsen might write something that doesn’t deserve one million stars on a scale of 1 to 5. Today is not that day. Abysm was written and released very quickly, and I would be lying if I wasn’t a little wary going in — fast almost always means underdeveloped in my experience. But Jennsen has proven that her writing superpowers aren’t limited to amazing character development and complex (yet easy to read) plotting. Speed Demon Powers Activate!
Abysm is the finale in the second series in this world, following these characters. As such, it probably should not be read out of order. There is a huge deep end here that is filled with months— years — feels like decades— of character growth, situational development, and inside information that all combines to make this such a wonderful book. Jennsen gives you the quick and dirty at the start with a summary of the previous series and books, but it’s just not the same.
That said, Abysm is probably the one book that I would point to if someone asked me where they could see the true depth of Jennsen’s ability. In this book, characters are taken to whole new levels. Alex faces an internal struggle that is beyond anything I’ve ever read. Caleb! Dear lord, my sweet baby Caleb. He’s laid out bare in this one, totally ripped apart and put back together, and you feel every little tear. Miriam is really the star of this book as far as who gets the most s*** done, and while I’ve always had a fond spot for Miriam, this is really where I developed a love for her. She’s kind of like Dench’s M to me — tough as nails, better than all the stodgy old men at actually protecting the universe, but also vulnerable and caring. She’s not a cliche, though. Miriam is just like any of Jennsen’s other characters: a full, complete person.
Universe-spanning politics are out in full force, but that’s been par for the course with this series. While Jennsen probably didn’t plan it this way, it’s pretty easy to draw some parallels between the banning of a certain type of humans in this book, and the current political landscape across the real world. It made it hard to read at times, made it hard to not get angry — but I think this is just another testament to Jennsen’s ability.
I once said that one of Jennsen’s earlier books was the perfect space opera sci fi. It has everything from adventurers, spies, aliens, assassins, and plotting politicians, to true love, danger, honor, underdogs, and everything else that makes a fictional world so satisfying. I hate to say I told you so, but hey — I called it, yo. ;)
Abysm continues this tradition, with each character diving deeper into yet another aspect of the world, but somehow all of it intertwines perfectly. Everything rests on another part, everyone affects everyone else in ways they can’t even imagine — and none of it feels contrived or tropey.
The writing is straightforward, easy, and draws you in until you forget its there. There are definitely some beautiful moments, language that was expertly woven on Jennsen’s part, but I feel that her strengths really lie in her role as a storyteller. She could be making a movie; telling me the story around a campfire; or writing it all down for me to consume in a feverish couple of days — in any of those roles, I’m positive that the heart she pours into her stories would come through just as clearly as it does here.
I’m half excited for the final trilogy to begin, and half terrified. What am I going to do when these people aren’t in my life anymore? When their stories are finished? I don’t know how I’ll face that. And if that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about Abysm and the series, I don’t know what will.