The thing that Emily Skrutskie really nails in Hullmetal Girls is all the nitty gritty of bodies being invaded by machines. So much care and thought has gone into every spliced muscle and metal port that it's easy to visualize the cyborg monsters these teens have become ... The way Skrutskie has built the world of the Fleet is also compelling, with each ship containing one piece of the puzzle required to sustain a world's worth of people as they journey through the stars for hundreds of years in search of a new home planet ... In some ways, the characters struggle to live up to the promise of the world ... I often found myself flipping back to make note of which character's name was at the beginning of the chapter, as it wasn't always possible to tell their narrative voices apart ... Hullmetal Girls feels like an evolution of the sci fi and dystopian works that have come before it ... Its strength is its commitment to the body horror concept, and the freshness of seeing familiar militaristic space opera shenanigans through the eyes of teenaged girls.
Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie has everything I might want in a book: friendships between angry female cyborgs, super soldiers with a persistent and creative body horror element, and a confined, high-stakes setting on a human fleet wandering between stars. Unfortunately, while these elements are emphasized and mixed in excellent and new ways, many other elements of the story are tired and left me struggling to get through the first half of the book ... Too full of horror to be a comfort read and not detailed enough to be transporting horror, Hullmetal Girls is stuck in a strange in-between place—while still being exactly the kind of book I’m glad to see enter the science fiction YA canon ... I love the idea that young women reading science fiction will know it’s a place where angry, scarred girls can get super powers and navigate tough moral choices ... This novel is so very close to what I wanted it to be that to say otherwise is uncomfortable. I loved the characters as ideas rather than people and, to a degree, that’s fine—especially for someone unfamiliar with the super soldier subgenre, Hullmetal Girls could be an exciting and empowering story.
Emily Skrutskie's complex, space-based post-apocalyptic world is populated by diverse characters representing various gender expressions, sexualities, races and religions. Hullmetal Girls's governing body is perfectly sinister, the motivations of the protagonists wholly understandable and the stakes as high as they can be. A gripping and intelligent young adult read.
Told in alternating chapters by Aisha and Key, this exciting standalone is full of shifting allegiances; but the world-building and characters, especially the secondary ones, aren't well developed ... Despite being action-packed and having ethnically diverse main characters with a range of sexual identities, this sci-fi never fulfills its promise.
Though Skrutskie’s novel sounds like yet another teen dystopian tale, its strengths lift it above the crowd. She’s created a fully realized world that’s different enough to seem unique but understandable enough to keep readers from getting lost ... And the diversity of ethnicities, sexualities, genders, and religions is seamlessly integrated into the story, influencing the characters’ actions but never overwhelming the main tale. Definitely recommended for readers looking for a fresh take on classic sf tropes.
Skrutskie’s...tale is packed with diverse characters: Aisha identifies as aromantic and asexual, and adheres to a Muslim-like faith, while her squadmate Woojin Lih is pansexual; other characters are coded as Asian or Indian, and much of the story’s conflict stems from class-based tension. Skrutskie’s examination of what defines humanity, family, and free will makes this an engaging, satisfying story.
Skrutskie...presents a space odyssey of diverse representation told in dual perspectives between Aisha and Key, two women of color, with clarity and precision. Aisha identifies as aromantic and asexual, and her Ledic religion appears to be derived from Islam, with some similar rituals and symbols, which affects her worldview and how she is treated. Woojin is pansexual.
An engaging narrative with a complex cast that intersects race, sexual identity, religion, and class.