Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers #1) by Zoe Hana Mikuta
Published by Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Publishers
Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Release Date : June 29th, 2021
Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.
We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead…
The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.
Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.
As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…
“It makes sense that, when the times were desperate enough, when the people were frenzied enough, at a certain point we went past praying to deities and started to build them instead.”
ARC provided by the publisher Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When two people from opposite sides of the war find each other with a common chaotic goal to destroy and wreck havoc. A half bionic Windup pilot with a dark past and a gearbreaker with a dangerous taste for adrenaline. Two unlikely enemies team up to bring down the gods and panic in gay a few times in this explosive YA scifi debut.
First and foremost I would like to thank Colored Pages Tours for choosing me as one of the many amazing book bloggers for Gearbreakers tour from June 23rd to June 29th. Thank you as well to the author and publisher Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Publishers for providing a digital ARC (Advance Readers Copy) as part of this blog tour. Also for sending a physical copy of the book!
Because they did not simply create another Pilot. Another soldier. Another protector. They created nothing short of their own downfall.
Gearbreakers is a young adult sapphic scifi debut by one of the most hyped young authors Zoe Hana Mikuta. This soon to be adapted book will be the first of two books that will kick off the start to a thrilling, adventurous, and action packed series. Marketed as a book perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series this book fulfills my fantasy of a sapphic version of Gundam or Gurren Lagann. Before diving deep into the book I would like to highlight the beautiful cover of this book done by the amazing Taj Francis and designed by Mike Burroughs. The illustration of the cover is just perfection with Sona and Eris up front and the font choice reflects the story so well. The head of the giant windup in the background is so subtle and the color scheme is also stunning! The cover definitely got me excited to dive into the book.
The story of Gearbreakers takes place in a world where one nation proclaimed to be the capital of the world and the world’s only super power that emerged victorious from the Springtide War, a world war during which each nation battled each other using Windups to assert dominance and claim the limited amount of resources. Godolia became the nation that conquered the world during the war as they were the first to build the first generation of piloted Windups contrary to the common autonomous system. The Godolia’s technological advancement in syncing pilots to the giant two hundred feet robot proved to be superior to the other nation’s windups. Since then Godolia has continuously oppressed and exploits other nations to serve their needs for resources. Standing in defiance of Godolia’s power are the Gearbreakers, a chaotic resistance army that take down the god like Godolia Windups.
Yeah, we’re small. Yeah, we’re human. But we’re also Gearbreakers, and we’re here to dismantle the fuckers who thought we’d just sit back and take it.
Mikuta created a world that is reminiscent to movies like Mad Max combined with the small walled cities in the anime Attack of Titan. Godolia is a crowded metropolitan city, separating the city is a wall that divides the city from the ravaged outside lands dubbed as the Badlands that have been heavily ruined by war and where the resource villages are located. The world building is simple, impactful, and vivid. Though some parts of the world could’ve been explained in even more detail and in depth it didn’t hinder me from enjoying the whole story. I liked the contrast between the Hollows and Godolia in the story. The Hollows is the Gearbreaker’s sanctuary that is hidden somewhere in the Badlands where there the skies are clearer, surrounded by trees and plants, and contained some of the natural essence of earth that don’t exist in Godolia. In Godolia the sky is covered with smog, the air is much more polluted, and it is jam packed with the human population. Unless they live somewhere of significance, such as the academy, life is harder and more dangerous on the streets.
Though I adored most parts the world building and the full scale of the world that came to view when I reached in the middle of the book. The quarter part of the book (~30% of the book) the writing is quite a hurdle to get over. Though I enjoyed the book there are parts that made it a bit hard and challenging. Mikuta’s ability in conveying the sheer emotions of her characters and setting the right mood of the story through her writing is articulate. Though I favored her writing style later on in the story; during the earlier chapters the prose felt scattered, the history felt convoluted, the world building is hard to follow at some parts, and the mythos could’ve been much more concise. I have to admit that I had to reread these earlier chapters to fully understand the world, it’s as though the first time I read it I only got fragments that I have to reread it at least twice to completely understand it. From the reviews I’ve read I am not the only one that struggled with this. I was too immersed in the vibes and was in prime condition for reading that I continued reading until the end. It did get better significantly the further you go into the story as the plot finally picks up and the messy scattered prose became much more cohesive. I would say that I adore the writing style as it carries the right amount of sharpness, sometimes brutal, captivating, and refreshing. I encourage readers to push through the earlier chapters as the writing doesn’t persist further into the book. The amazing story is worth it to push through the earlier chapters.
It was from hate for them, hate for myself and the way my recklessness and childishness had forever bound me to this nation and the dream of its destruction, and hate of what I would become to achieve it.
In Gearbreakers the story follow two perspectives, Sona and Eris. The two are from the opposite sides of the war. With Sona standing on Godolia’s side as she established herself as one of the most elite and skilled pilots of the Valkyrie windups. On the other side is Eris Shindanai, the rebel leader that loves the thrill of a good Windup take down and when you think Elsa is icy, Eris is the blizzard. I loved the way Mikuta structured the story as the first half shows the contrasting life between the two main characters before they met each other. When they finally meet the crackle of tension and mutual pinning bleeds out of the page. Mikuta ability in fleshing out her characters by showing a depth, humanity, and emotion is astounding. There are so many heartbreaking and hear fluttering moments that thinking about it gives me chills. Though some moments felt a bit repetitive on Eris’ perspective whenever she’s in battle I liked her character growth and her role as the mother hen of her group. Eris shows her affection is the most tsundere way possible contrasting her sister, Jenny Shindanai, that is more unhinged and sometimes more vicious in expressing her feelings. Eris is a born leader, her strength and commanding presence carries an edge that tethers between the fearlessness of a Gearbreaker and a compassionate leader that cares for her team.
And when I meet her gaze, the one that somehow seems to simmer more viciously than the artificial light forced into mine, I forget myself and draw a breath.
Sona on the other hand is complex and carries with her the weight of her pain close as a reminder of the tragic reality she is living in. Her development as a character is prominent in propelling the story forward. At first her intentions were simple and innocent but it then grew to be something grand as Sona is given an important task that might turn the tides of the war. Personally, Sona is much more well fleshed out than the other characters as her development comes to a full circle by the end of the story. Following Sona’s train of thought is painful to an extent as she struggles to accept her robot side as it dawned on her what Godolia did to her and what she put herself through. These struggle are heavily explored by Mikuta showing a different perspective in the war through Sona’s character. But overall Sona’s journeying is clearly centered around her humanity and how she measures her humanity not just from her physical aspects but also a deeper root such as her mind and heart. Luckily, Sona has Eris that helps her by giving her support and affection when Sona needs it most. The chemistry and tension is crackling, they are so intimate with each other it’s as though I’m invading their privacy.
“I will not die in a Windup. I will not die following their orders, and I will not die as their protector. I will die human or I will not die at all.”
The side characters in Gearbreakers all have a unique quality to them that is endearing and playful. Eris’ crew consist of some of the youngest members in the Hollows, a rag tag team bunch deemed as problematic became the perfect members for Eris to lead. When Mikuta introduced these characters it was done in such a way that left a deep impression on me. It’s surprising how this story carries themes of war and children that are forced to pick up arms to join the resistance. How Mikuta brings forth this thematic story might be a heroic at some points but there are also moments when the humanity and child like innocence breaks the surface of that bravery. For instance each of the Gearbreaker aren’t afraid of death (so they say), at their young age death shouldn’t loom over them everyday but they have lived with it for so long it became a habit. But when death finally knocks on their door or all of the power to break free is taken from them the terror is clearly depicted by Mikuta. I love this about the characters even during dire moments they choose to fight until the end, kicking and screaming taking down as many of their enemies with them. The found family aspect became the safe haven for the characters and vital in their continued efforts in fighting the war. It goes to show that there is comfort amongst the pain and fear that follows them everywhere.
Because you choose sides in war and I chose the one that makes me feel human, and this I will not apologize for.
Final thoughts, Gearbreakers is an overall good book and I highly recommend anyone to pick it up. If you love dystopian, robots, found family, and feral strong female characters this is the book for you. It is action packed, filled with robot against robot fighting sequences and robot against humans scenes that left me floored and highly entertained. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book though I have issues with the last act of the story hopefully it will be resolved in the sequel. I’m looking forward to how Mikuta will continue the story because there are many possibilities that left me curious. Fair warning the ending is infuriating to say the least in a good way, My emotions are still reeling from it. Once again I highly recommend for anyone to pick this up and enjoy the sapphic mutual pining all the while killing robots, toppling nations and being as feral, angry, and ruthless as possible.
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
About the Author
Twenty-year-old Zoe Hana Mikuta is a Korean-American writer currently attending the University of Washington in Seattle, majoring in English with a creative writing focus and minoring in History of Religion. She grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where she developed a deep love of Muay Thai kickboxing and nurtured a slow and steady infatuation for fictional worlds. She enjoys writing deteriorating worlds inhabited by characters with bad tempers, skewed morals, and big hearts. Her YA wlw sci-fi debut, GEARBREAKERS, is upcoming from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan Publishers June 29th, 2021, with an untitled sequel to follow summer 2022. When she needs to unwind, Zoe sews runes onto the belt loops of her jeans and embroiders ‘Bite Me’ on the back pockets. She hopes if she feeds the crows around her campus enough croutons, they’ll begin to gift her quarters, so she can say her laundry is bird-funded.
To complete this review I made a playlist that consist of 15 songs that I imagined to be playing in the car as Nova drives the crew to their next take down or in their dorm. It took me a while to make this playlist making sure each song goes well with a certain scene and conveys the emotions I felt as I read the book. I added a couple of songs such as A Little Girl by OHHYUK and for lovers who hesitate by JANNABI as songs that I see Sona and Eris slow dance to. My favorite songs on the playlist Summer by The Volunteers, it is such a good song that reminds me of the crew of driving into the Badlands. I know that in the book the song Nova chooses I probably more loud and bad ass than this song but hey this song spoke to me as that scene. I also picked two songs that best conveys the ending of the book for me and they are World of the Forgotten by HYUKOH and 자유(Jayu) by 새소년 (SE SO NEON). There is dread, lost, and a mixture of pain with triumph in the ending that fits perfectly with these two songs. Hopefully this playlist can help readers get into the mood of the book!
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