Review #211 // Hullmetal Girls – Emily Skrutskie

Hullmetal GirlsAisha and Key both have different motives for taking up the Scela armor, but despite their differences, they end up in the same team. As the two girls work with their team to rise through the Scela ranks, they stumble across a rebellion against their mysterious government, which lead them both to question their loyalties.

Why this book?: loved Skrutskie’s The Abyss Surrounds Us and the sequel The Edge of the Abyss.

I would like to thank the people at Random House Children’s for sending me a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Emily Skrutskie wow-ed me when it came to her debut duology, The Abyss Surrounds Us and it’s companion The Edge of the AbyssI loved the characters and couldn’t get enough of the unique sci-fi world with monsters, hate-to-love sapphics, and badass pirates. So when I heard about her next, Hullmetal Girlsyou can bet that was was ecstatic! After reading it, however, I just cannot, cannot, recommend this book. Maybe others will enjoy the aspects that I found so frustrating, but overall, this book was a letdown.

Skrutskie’s writing was similar to what it was in TASU, with itnot being very descriptive but still fairly emotional and intense. However, when nothing really happens for the entire first half of the novel, the writing kind of lost all of it’s luster. I was constantly waiting for something to happen, but all we got were training montages and Key and Aisha banging heads over small disagreements. We got hints here and there to a larger problem with the government, but after hitting the halfway point, I just didn’t see a point in continuing. I knew that with no buildup in the beginning, everything would be shoved into the last half, and considering this book is a standalone, it just wouldn’t work. Too much was shoved into the last half of the book.

Going back to the characters, holy shit. Aisha was okay, but she was completely defined by her siblings and her past. I understand that that’s normal, but when you’re reading from her perspective and only getting things about her brother or sister or memories from her past–it got old really fast. And Key–Key was angry at everything, hated Aisha because she was religious, and lashed out at anyone who looked at her the wrong way. Like Aisha, Key was so one-dimensional, and they fought so often that I just couldn’t stand them.

One thing that this book had going for it was the representation. Aisha follows a religion (Ledic) that is similar to Islam in our world, which was interesting. People hated Aisha because of this, but that was about it. I’m not even sure if there were other Ledic characters besides Aisha and her family. In addition to that, it’s revealed that Aisha is aroace, Woojin is pansexual, and Praava is trans. Nice! Except for how these identities were revealed. There’s a whole scene when Aisha and Key have to relive a memory of Praava and Wooj having sex, which is when Aisha is mocked for being a “Ledic prude”, which “forces” her to come out as aroace. Great, love it when an aroace character comes out after having a sex scene shoved in her head. Praava is given a “gender reveal” when the characters have their minds connected, and it’s explained that everyone got to see the other’s secrets, including “Praava’s XY chromosomes”. Can people just drop the whole chromosome bullshit already??

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆


I really, really struggled with Hullmetal Girls for so many different reasons. The terrible pacing, the mismatched writing, the representation, and the characters all came together to force me to drop this book when I was barely half way through it. I wish I could have loved this book, but it just didn’t work well at all.

Would I Recommend?

As stated at the beginning of this review, probably not. The characters were very one-dimensional, the representation was there but not the best, and the story took way too long to develop.

Hullmetal Girls

Additional Information:

Published: July 17th, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte

Page Count: 320

Genre: Science Fiction/Young Adult

Synopsis: via Goodreads

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.

- Avery (2)

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