Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers #1) by Zoe Hana Mikuta
Published by Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Publishers
Science Fiction, Young Adult
Release Date : June 29th, 2021
Perfect for fans of Rick Yancey and Marie Lu, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a sci-fi fantasy with mind-blowing twists, ready to burst onto the YA scene, from the critically-acclaimed Descendant of the Crane author, Joan He.
Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.
“My real home waits for me across the sea.”
ARC provided by the publisher Roaring Brook Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A haunting story about the bond shared by two sisters that spans through time as they try to reunite crossing the ocean of memories, diving deep into the depths humanity, whilst discovering one’s purpose and meaning in life.
First and foremost I would like to thank Xpresso Book Tours for choosing me as one of the many amazing book bloggers for The Ones We’re Meant to Find tour from May 3rd to May 7th. Thank you as well to the author and publisher Roaring Brook Press for providing an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) as part of this blog tour. For those who are interested in getting their hands on a copy there is a tour wide giveaway for everyone to join near the end of this review.
“Before, I was both. Incomplete and still searching. But now— Tears, hot in my eyes. They blur my vision. Still, I see her. I see her as clearly as I do in my dreams. Clearer. Because this isn’t a dream.”
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is the second published book by one of YA’s leading voices Joan He. Following up the monumental success of Descendant of the Crane, Joan He is back with a sci-fi fantasy story marketed as a combination of We We’re Liars and Black Mirror, this book truly lived up and even exceeds my expectations as one of the most terrifyingly beautiful YA books I’ve read this year. Don’t let the visuals fool you by thinking it’s gonna be pretty tame for a young adult book because it’s not. Before I read this book, I’ve seen a couple of my friends on Twitter raving about it saying how good it is. I knew nothing about the book besides that its a dystopian with two sisters and emanates Studi Ghibli vibes. The cover itself is gorgeous beyond measure with Kasey and Celia in the ocean waves done by the talented Aykut Aydoğdu. I can just look at the cover forever because it’s so damn stunning. If you joined the preorder campaign you can feast your eyes on more art of the book done by Paulina Klime and Eduardo Vargas. After finishing the book, I looked up the pre order campaign art and I was reeling. The story seems much more haunting with the illustrations. Who knew as someone that doesn’t flinch from reading bloody battle scenes can shiver from seeing art of characters from this book.
The story takes place on the dying earth as humans are driven to live in eco cities escaping from the inhabitable lands and oceans. As the last sanctuary for humans on earth these eco cities are only accessible for a few chosen individuals of privilege. A caste system is established to simplify the process of picking who can live there, the smaller the number the higher their placement in society. Joan He adopted a Black Mirror-esque vibe to reflect the imminent dread and desperation as humans clung to their last chance in survival. With astounding descriptive writing He transports readers to a world full of convenience, tech, and stream lined efficiency. Though the world itself seems advance but it created a trench of void that disconnects any human relationship.
“The sea was a trillion strands of hair, infinitely tangled on the surface and infinitely dense beneath. It distorted time: Minutes passed like hours and hours passed like minutes out there. It distorted space, made the horizon seem within reach. And it was the perfect place for hiding secrets.”
In all honesty, I had a hard time immersing myself into the world because it took a while for me to familiarize with the jargon used in the story describing the scientific notions of the world He has created. I’ll say it early on that dystopian sci-fi isn’t a genre adherent to my taste in stories. Alas this did not hinder me from enjoying the thrilling aspect of an impending doom for humanity. Joan He created the perfect world for the story as the world became the very thing that takes intensity and stakes even higher for the characters to ponder upon. The amount of research He has done is evident within the pages as seen in the well detailed descriptions of the world and in the data reports Kasey receives in the story. What makes this story so haunting is how realistic and near to true life the world is, I seriously can see a possibility the world He created becoming a reality. He didn’t guide us into understanding the world at all, readers are thrusted into a world full of orderly chaos and dread, similar to being thrown into the ocean with no life vest. He also did a masterful job at layering the symbolisms adding further depth into story the closer you get to the truth. I can’t say it enough that the closer I got to the ending the more haunted and shell shocked I became.
(And I am still haunted btw.)
“I can’t stop the pain, but I can stop myself from bending to its will.”
To top it all of there are reoccurring themes explored in The Ones We’re Meant to Find such as : grief, family, connection, and humanity. How ones grief can either destroy their connection to their humanity drowning them in an ocean of anger and sadness. How one can find meaning in surviving, living, and being human against the circumstances and ones already defined purpose in life. I liked that Joan He uses the ocean as a tool for foreshadowing the whole narrative. He’s prose is magnetic, calm, and efficient in delivering hauntingly breathtaking moments to the point I was rendered empty as I unbox the emotions in each chapter. The complexity of emotion in the story is as strong as the tide, as wave after wave slowly drown and pull you under into the darkest depths of human emotion. It is rare for a book to ruin me this bad by consistently jabbing on my feelings. What makes it even more astounding is that it is condensed within 384 pages, making The Ones We’re Meant to Find as a book that packs a smashing emotional punch. To sell this book even further is the consistent and concise writing. This book has single handedly set the standard for future books to come because the level of quality Joan He presents is beyond excellent.
“Some secrets were best left at sea, between sisters.”
The anchor for The Ones We’re Meant to Find is it’s characters. There isn’t a big cast of characters for readers to follow as the story is more focused on two paralleling perspectives. First is Cee, a girl stranded on an abandoned island with only fragments of her memories. For three years she has been stuck on the island with U-Me, a robot that recites the dictionary. As Cee grows weary of living on the island that is slowly becoming a prison, she manages to construct a boat that will be her one way ticket in escaping it’s clutches. After Cee’s desperate first attempt an unlikely person washed ashore that might turn the tides in her plans. For Cee’s perspective Joan He gives us first hand accounts of Cee’s experiences by writing in first person. The writing in Cee’s chapters can be described as full of longing, confusion, and desperation. Without spoiling anything the dread is prominent mostly in Cee’s chapters as it bleeds through the page pulling readers into the depths of her desperation to flee the island and find her sister. Cee’s arc is my favorite arc in the whole story more than Kasey’s. There is simplicity in the plot yet it evokes complex feelings that doesn’t happen often in the YA books I’ve read.
“Between them, they shared an ocean of loss. It was under their chins, threatening to drown them the moment they sank. And Kasey chose to sink. The world was ending. People were dying. But how many others were consuming more than their fair share when Celia could taste no more?”
Second, we follow Kasey Mizuhara, youngest daughter of the Mizuhara family and science prodigy. Kasey is mourning the lost of her sister, Celia, after their sudden disappearance. All the while the world is facing a massive crisis as the humans have stretched the earth’s resources thin to the point of imminent natural catastrophe. Knowing this, it is up to Kasey to help humanity by using her gift to secure a better future for the world by finding a solution, one that the people might not want to hear. Kasey as a character seems detached from the reality that she is living in since the lost of Celia. The grief of losing her sister is felt through the page as Kasey slowly comes to terms with her feelings by confronting them to find closure. As Kasey traces Celia’s steps to the moments before she disappeared she stumbles upon a boy that can help her find her answers. Kasey’s perspective is interestingly written in second person which made me think for a good chunk of the story. I later understood the implications of why He decided to write her perspective in second person is to add another layer of important nuance to an already brain heavy story.
Besides these two sisters there are two other supporting characters that also fuels the plot and became important figures in the story. This character’s revelation and corruption didn’t translate well to me. Personally for me I had a hard time connecting their motivation and their intent. Which left me feeling scatter brained trying to understand this character. Joan He laid the foundations well for them to carry out their intent to become a tremendous plot twist, but I ended up feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, the other character carried the ending of the story and amplified the impact of the emotion for readers nearing the end. I can’t say which scene but when you read the book you’ll know. Because what this character did became the catalyst to trigger the final reaction so that the main character can finally make their decision. And oh wow! I was shivering when I read it. Joan He executed it beautifully!
“I don’t think either of us came here by choice.”
“And I think we have even less choice over the ones we’re meant to find.”
Final thoughts, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a thrilling sci-fi dystopian ride. Presented with an aesthetically beautiful cover that can temp any reader; complete with Joan He’s captivating world building, emotion heavy prose, detailed and consistent symbolism, and haunting foreshadowing it solidifies this book as stand out amongst the young adult releases of 2021. If you’re looking for a short stand alone young adult book that packs complex story telling about reuniting and closure set in a dying world with emotions as deep as the ocean, high quality writing, and soul-stirring twists; this book is for you.
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
About the Author
Joan was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that stories were her favorite kind of art. She studied psychology and Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the city waterfront. Descendant of the Crane is her young adult debut.
For updates, please sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c5rvdL.
For business related inquiries, please contact her literary agent, John Cusick of Folio Lit.
Tour-wide giveaway (INT) – Ends May 13th 2021
- Print copy of The Ones We’re Meant to Find
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