Aisha Un-Haad, 17, and 18-year-old Key Tanaka have risked everything for new lives as mechanically enhanced soldiers. When an insurrection forces dark secrets to surface, the fate of humanity is in the hands of these young heroines in this epic space adventure.
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.