Friday, June 29, 2018

ARC Review: Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Hullmetal Girls By Emily Skrutskie
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Egalley, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor's salary isn't enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she's from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha's and Key's paths collide, and the two must learn to work together--a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.
This was my first time diving into a book by Emily Skrutskie, but you may be familiar with her already if you read The Abyss Surrounds Us. I still haven't read that one, so I went into this book not really knowing what to expect. I sometimes like that better because then I have no preconceived notions about what I should expect from a book. All I really knew was that it was about space cyborgs?? After reading this book, I have to say that is a pretty good description.

I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book, mostly because for awhile I really hated it! Not so much the book or writing itself, but I just couldn't stand the characters. They were annoying me so much! In this book, we get two perspectives from two different girls that have gone through the process of becoming part machine called Scela. They are tools for the General Body (the government on the fleet of ships) and don't have a lot of free will. Aisha, chooses to "take the metal" as they call it, because she comes from a lower class ship and she needs the money to make sure her siblings are provided for. The other point of view, Key, has no idea why she decided to become a Scela. I really understood Aisha, and I understood why she did this and why she was so worried for her siblings, but Key annoyed me for much of the novel. She just seemed like a real witch with a "B", and it wasn't really clear where that anger was coming from. She was really cold, and it just felt like she had all this really unfounded hatred for Aisha. It really irked me for most of the novel, and it wasn't until she figured out why she became a Scela that I really got to understand why she was this way. After this, her character development and the turn of the story got really interesting. It's why I feel so conflicted by this book! I was frustrated for so much of it, but in the end I was pretty satisfied with where the story ended.

This book uses the "Generation Ship" Scifi trope, which I have to admit I haven't read much of, but it definitely has a very Battlestar Galactica or Quarian feel to it. The world building of this group of people all just on a fleet of ships together searching the stars is what really interested me about this book. I liked the world building here, and I found it especially interesting how the class system between all the linked ships seemed to work.  I do feel like the conflict with the General Body was a little much. It was a little too predictable and it felt like the conflict was resolved way too quickly. This book feels like a standalone book, and I liked how it ended, so I don't think there needs to be another book, but it definitely felt like it was wrapped up way too easily in a bow.

The way that the Scela work, and how the author describes the process in the first chapter was really hard to read. In that the physical description of it was straight up brutal! I was fascinated reading about how these tools of the General Body worked. I think the author really thought hard about the logistics of the Scela, and I think that really comes through in the writing.

One big thing that irked me about this novel was the diversity, in that it felt like it was just there to be on paper. We see a character that is trans, one that identities as aro-ace, and one that is pansexual, but there is literally one line in this book that really shows us that. It just felt like it was there to check off a diversity box. I think as a cis, white girl, I can't really speak to if that is good or bad, but to me it felt like there could have been a little more character development there.

Despite I few things that didn't work for me in this novel, I still really enjoyed it, and I think if you are a YA scifi fan you will enjoy this one too.

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Happy Reads Everyone!