Friday, July 6, 2018

ARC Review: Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Hullmetal Girls
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Publication: Delacorte Press (July 17, 2018)

Description: Fans of Pierce Brown and the Illuminae series will love this epic space adventure that New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis says "you will devour in one sitting."

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 maintian 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.

My Thoughts: This science fiction story takes place in a fleet of humans looking for a new home planet. They have been searching for 301 years. During this time the fleet has divided itself into seven castes of varying prosperity. The book is told alternately by Aisha and Key.

Aisha is from the seventh tier which is the lowest caste. She has been working as a janitor to support her younger sister and brother since her parents' deaths. Now her young brother has caught the plague which can be treated but costs a lot of money. In order to provide treatment for him, Aisha decides to become a Scela for the higher paycheck. The Scela are the peacekeepers in the fleet and are remade with mechanical parts. It is a desperate option but Aisha doesn't have any other. She's doing it for her family. She leaves her sister with her mother's sister Yasmin. Yasmin is supposed to keep her out of the dyeworks where many in her tier work and die.

Key is from the first tier where the rulers and rich people live. She wakes to find that she is now Scela and has no idea why she made that choice. She has large gaps in her memory about her life and her past.

The two girls and two other new Scela become a squad and go through basic training to learn to use their new bodies. They have ups and downs as they learn to integrate the machine intelligence that is now part of them. On Aisha's first leave, she and Key are allowed to go back to her home ship to check up on her family. There Aisha finds out the her sister is working in the dyeworks, her brother has been sent to the plague ship for treatment, and her aunt is part of the underground Fractionists who are rebelling against the leaders of the fleet and who believe that they would have a better chance of finding a new planet if they fleet split up. Aisha, very reluctantly, gets involved with the Fractionists because she is being coerced by her aunt in return for better treatment for her sister.

Meanwhile, both girls are seeing things that lead them to believe that the leaders are so eager to hold onto power that they are passing up planets that could be settled. Key also begin to learn some of the things that were blocked from her memory which I had already figured out.

This was an engaging and exciting science fiction story. The characters were well drawn and the world building was intriguing.

Favorite Quote:
"Calm down," he soothes. Like the words calm down have ever had their intended effect on anybody.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.


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