Cover of Gearbreakers, featuring two young Asian women in front of a large robot.

About the Book

Title: Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers#1)
Published: 2021
Series: Gearbreakers
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Pan Pacific Defense Corps Propaganda
BFF Charms: Caution x2
Talky Talk: Dystopian Debut
Bonus Factor: Jaegers
Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger
Relationship Status: Drift Compatible

Cover Story: Pan Pacific Defense Corps Propaganda

Looking to save the world from the Kaiju threat? The Pan Pacific Defense Corps needs you! Join the Jaeger program today!

The Deal: 

Bellsona “Sona” Steelcrest is the youngest person ever to become a Valkryie pilot. The Valkyries—Godolia’s best line of defense against the people of the Badlands and the rebel Gearbreakers—are the Gearbreakers’ greatest challenge. But Eris Shindanai, also known as Frostbringer, is the right kind of Gearbreaker for the job: willing to put everything on the line to take them down. Until she gets caught … and Sona sees an opportunity to complete her life’s goal: destroy Godolia and the entire Windup program and get vengeance for her dead family.

BFF Charms: Caution x2

BFF charm wrapped in yellow "Caution" tape

It was hard to get to know Sona, and I’m still uncertain if I ever got to see more than a few glimpses of the real her. To protect herself and her goals, she crafted a version of herself that was a cover, and it’s hard for her to let the walls down lest someone betray her. She’s oddly formal and android-like, which, given the modifications Godolia performed on her to make her a Pilot (cyborg eye, connection ports, lack of pain), makes her seem non-human. But there’s a real girl underneath all those trappings, and that real girl has a big heart and a strong spirit and would make a great friend.

On the surface, Eris seems like Sona’s complete opposite. She’s loud, brash, and acts with little regard for her safety or the safety of those around her. But she, too, has walls she’s erected around herself, and those walls protect a young woman who wants to be valued and loved. She’d deny it to the end, but gain her loyalty and you’d have someone in your life who’d gladly give hers for yours. It would be an intense friendship, but a worthwhile one.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Both Sona and Eris are struck by aspects of each other from the very start, but their disparate lives—they can’t trust each other at first, even when they’re forced to work together—make it hard for them to examine those feelings too deeply. Sona’s honest with her opinions, which sometimes makes it seem like she’s joking, and Eris is only just working out what it means to be interested in women. So they have a ways to go. But I’m pretty certain that when these opposites attract, literal sparks will fly.

Talky Talk: Dystopian Debut

Mikuta is one of those authors that I both dislike and want to cheer on. She’s extremely young and extremely talented, which makes me feel super old but also like a big sister who wants nothing more than for her younger sibling to succeed. Gearbreakers is a really solid debut with a great plot but room for growth; Mikuta’s characters are strong and fully realized, but the world-building took a backseat to the action, and I would have liked to understand a bit more about the world in which it all took place. That said, the world’s not the heart of the story. It’s Sona and Eris and the way they both see the world—and the way those views change throughout the book—that really matters here.

Bonus Factor: Jaegars

The Jaeger Gipsy Danger from Pacific Rim

Although they’re called Windups in Gearbreakers, and there are no Kaiju battles in the story, I couldn’t help but think about Pacific Rim while reading this book. In the Windup program, pilots like Sona are hooked up to giant machines that they control with their minds and bodies, machines that are built for various purposes but all of which are battle-ready (i.e., bristling with weaponry). I only wish I got a clearer picture of what they looked like from the descriptions.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger

A man dressed all in black (Sylvester Stallone) clings to a cliff face

I saw it coming from the “time left” while reading, but damn if the cliffhanger didn’t hit hard. Gonna need the sequel like yesterday.

Relationship Status: Drift Compatible

You might not need a partner to pilot your Windup, Book, but I’d like to think that we’d make a good team if it came down to it. You’ve got just the right mix of action and heart, and I’m excited to see what the future brings for us both, especially if we’re in it together.

Literary Matchmaking

Rebel Seoul

If you’re looking for more Jaeger action, Axie Oh’s book is about a futuristic South Korea with giant robots.

Crier’s War (Crier’s War #1)

For another book with a love story between two young women, one of whom is something more than human (in this case, an actual android), check out Nina Varela’s duology.

The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1)
The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)

And for more enemies-to-lovers, you-basically-kidnapped-me-but-I-still-like-you action, but with giant sea monsters instead of robots, check out Emily Skrutskie’s duology.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Feiwel & Friends, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Gearbreakers is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.