cover image Hullmetal Girls

Hullmetal Girls

Emily Skrutskie. Delacorte, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5247-7019-8

In this spacefaring adventure, mankind’s fate rests in the hands of people who’ve traded their humanity for cybernetic enhancements to become Scela—cyborg soldiers who serve the colonization fleet housing Earth’s refugees. Seventeen-year-old Aisha Un-Haad undergoes the change to provide for her brother, who dwells in one of the fleet’s most impoverished lower-class ships; 18-year-old Key Tanaka comes from their society’s highest tier but has no memory of why she underwent the brutal process. Mentally linked with the rest of their new squad, the two girls become reluctant allies, even friends. As they work to protect the fleet as it searches for a habitable planet, they’re forced to make consequential choices that could save or doom everyone. Skrutskie’s (The Edge of the Abyss) 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. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Ages 12–up. [em](July) [/em]