Tag Archives: YA

Review of Hullmetal Girls, by Emily Skrutskie

I won a signed copy of Hullmetal Girls, by Emily Skrutskie though 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.

This was so much better than I expected. I’m just so jaded on YA lit, but this gave me hope for the genre. These girls face some real challenges and succeed through perseverance and determination, every times. Plus, the book is full of diversity and calmly breaks patriarchal norms all over the place. There are people who look different from one another and economic/class distinctions. There’s an aroace character, a pansexual character, someone who isn’t sure, a heterosexual character (they have a conversation, sexuality isn’t a big thing in the book). A gay couple adopts child because a woman loves her child but isn’t maternal or want to be a mother and that’s ok. One of the main characters is religious and wears a head scarf. All the people in positions of power are female (even God) and no one tries to explain it away or excuse it. Romance or being slighted by a man isn’t a motivating force for anyone. Of the only significant male characters, one is inept and clumsy and one is a support worker. There is just so much to love about it.

I did think the story was dependent on the characters being given a leave way that didn’t make sense and I wasn’t entirely sure what actually happened with Key at the end. It didn’t seem to fit the science of the eco rigs, as explained. But these are small complaints on the whole, I really enjoyed the book and look forward to more of Skrutskie’s writing.

Review of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

I bought a copy of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. Technically, it was for my daughter, but whatever.

Description from Goodreads:
The art attacks continue in this sequel to the acclaimed graphic novel THE PLAIN JANES. The coolest clique of misfits ever plays Cupid and becomes entangled in affairs of the heart. P.L.A.I.N. – People Loving Art In Neighborhoods – goes global when the art gang procures a spot in the Metro City Museum of Modern Art Contest. And the Janes will discover that in art and love, the normal rules don’t always apply.

I admit that when I picked this up I didn’t realize it is a sequel. And, reading it, I did feel the lack of having read book one. But it is followable. I thought it was nice the way the girls (and their tag along gay friend) support each other and stick to their guns to do their art (as in Do Your Thing). There’s a notably diverse cast and platonic male/female friendships (even in a book about Valentines Day). But I also thought it rushed (even for a graphic novel plot) and a little scattered. Plus, the villain is ridiculously depthless.  All in all, not bad though.

Review of The Sisters Mederos, by Patrice Sarath

I received a copy of The Sisters Mederos, by Patrice Sarath, through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.

House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…

Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.

This started out well and had a fine ending (though the epilogue seemed unneeded), but it felt like the middle dragged quite a lot. I appreciated the two strong female leads, one of which was disfigured and one brainy, and the writing was perfectly functional. But I felt like things came a little too conveniently for the girls and the ‘mystery’ was a bust. The villain was so obvious as to be painful. Lastly, I thought the cross-dressing ‘mistress’ was just queer-baiting. All in all, not bad, but not a true winner either.