Gearbreakers was one of my most anticipated releases for 2021, and also one of the highest on my TBR, so I was beyond excited when I got an ARC! I mean, pitched as a sapphic enemies-to-lovers, filled with mechas, robots, angst, pining, angry queer girls, and found family, who wouldn’t want to pick this book up? Although it had a slightly unsteady start, after around the 30-35% mark, the pacing, and tone of writing dramatically changed – leading Gearbreakers to be a new favourite!
Thank you so much to Macmillan International for providing me with a copy of ‘Gearbreakers’ in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way. All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
Author: Zoe Hana Mikuta
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian, LGBTQIA+
Series: Yes, this is Book #1
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Torture, Grief, Blood, Gore
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
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…
Godolia, like a mouth in the desert, breathing in its age. In comes the world. Out come its Gods.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story like Gearbreakers before. With a unique plot, setting, and storyline, I think it just brought something fresh. Even though it was so different, it was never too hard to understand, and I found myself immersed in the story within the first few chapters. Because this story was so distinctive, I found myself longing to know what happened next! I feel like it would have been so easy for this story to become cliché or overly-trope-y and I find it admirable that it managed to stay original throughout.
The writing was fueled by emotion, and the word choice really helped increase the intensity and fervour of conversations between the characters. There was so much rage, and fury when these characters were fighting for the things and people they loved, and after around the 20% mark, Zoe Hana Mikuta’s beautiful prose helped accentuate, and enhance that.
As I mentioned earlier, this story followed a really unique concept, which also meant there was a really distinctive world. Even though I had absolutely no background knowledge about Godolia, or the hierarchies and systems, this book was written in such a way that by the time I’d read a few pages, I knew all about the setting. There was also no info-dumping at all, and I was never confused at any point in time, which is something I loved. The worldbuilding was atmospheric, descriptive, and helped increase the stakes, and severity of plot twists.
We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...
Gearbreakers was like the perfect pitch for a novel. When I first heard that it would have found family, Asian representation, enemies-to-lovers, angry queer girls, angst, pining, tattooing as a form of affection, mechas, and swordfights, I both, wanted to read it ASAP, and was also scared it wouldn’t live up to all the high expectations I had. I was lucky enough to be able to read it before its release date – and luckily, it lived up to almost all of my expectations as well. Along with all of the above, and everything it initially promised, Gearbreakers also had sister dynamics that made me feel SOFT. No, these dynamics weren’t a main part of the story, but through all the interactions between Eris and Jenny, you could see how protective Jenny was of Eris, even though she tried not to show it, and seeing that dynamic was so heartwarming!
Morally grey, complex characters are my favourite, and Gearbreakers was full of them. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call both of the main characters in this book morally grey, both of them were certainly very complex. It was so interesting to see how their past experiences, and the differences in the way they were brought up affected the decisions they currently made. I loved the banter, and both the conversation and dialogue felt so natural!
There were also a LOT of action-packed scenes full of fights, and strategy, mechas and violence, which I found really fun. These fast-paced chapters highly contrasted with the more intimate ones that only featured the crew, and because it was balanced so well, I flew through the novel. Seeing how the character personalities varied from when they were alone, or with people they trusted, versus in the battle field just added a layer of depth to the story.
As I mentioned earlier, the start to Gearbreakers was slightly uneven. The writing felt messy during the first 20% and the story only fell into complete rhythm by the 30% mark. Although, yes, this may seem like a while – I was emotionally invested in the characters and their stories, and to be honest, the entire story after that was completely worth the wait.
To the reckless, lovestruck kids. (The former may be lethal, but the latter makes it worth it.)
Although it had a slightly rocky start, Gearbreakers was full of unexpected twists, surprises, and was an action-packed story that kept me gripping the edge of my seat in anticipation throughout. This book was one of my most anticipated for 2021, and let me just say, it did NOT disappoint. Filled with mechas, giant machines, angry queer girls, morally grey characters, enemies-to-lovers, and set in a futuristic society with loads of political tension, Gearbreakers was the science fiction of my dreams.
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.