Cover Image: Godslayers

Godslayers

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Let me be honest for a second: I requested this ARC because I was 120% sure that I would love the first book. I mean! It sounds perfect, right? Sapphic, cyber punk/sci-fi, found family, all the things I love to read about. And yet it really, really missed the mark. 

The book simply strips everything of any subtlety. Every non-serious thing the characters do feels like a performance they're putting on and at no point are the side characters actually given enough interactions with the main characters did us to start to care about them, so when Eris is tearing up about how much she loves her crew or whatever, the reader sits there and wonders how we are supposed to care when we almost never saw anyone of the crew interact with her one on one. 

The same issue as with the first book: there is so much violence and never actually any exploration of what effect it has on the characters. Eris and Sona are both tortured in just the most horrifying ways, right, and we never really see the psychological effect of that after it's done. Sona killed people who had clear affections for her and she didn't...feel any horror or guilt or just anything about that. None of the Gearbreakers ever even pause over the fact that the Pilots they're killing also had, like, lives and stuff? It's just horrifying.

Second of all, the writing. Listen, in no world would a seventeen year old refer to herself or her peers as "kids", okay. The "Godsdamn" and "hells" instead of "Goddamn" and "hell" was annoying, difficult to read and largely not incredibly necessary. All of the characters were perfectly eloquent and direct all the time, which just is unbelievable. You're telling me that everyone can read each other like a book and no one has any difficulty expressing emotions? At seventeen when surrounded by tremendous amounts of violence? No one's repressed or depressed? 

Eris and Sona don't really have any chemistry. I'm sorry but Eris went from "going to kill you" to "my best friend" in like three pages in book one and it's not improved here. 

Overall, I just don't know, man. I expected better.
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About a year ago, I read and reviewed Gearbreakers, Mikuta’s debut and the first book in this duology. While I loved the premise, the plot felt underdeveloped. Unfortunately, Godslayers left me with the same impression.

Mikuta’s language is as descriptive as ever. However, the flowery writing didn’t balance exceptionally well with the frequent time skips and battle/action sequences; I had trouble following many of these scenes and keeping up with the scrambled timelines.

I’d also started this book with the hope that it would clarify the worldbuilding introduced in Gearbreakers. Instead, a lot more names and locations and factions were added to the frenzy, which complicated my understanding since I was still trying to catch up on the information from the first book. (Also, I don’t know if this was due to my own lack of careful reading, but I kept mixing up side characters—their names were just too similar for me.)

I did like following Sona’s corruption arc—her mental struggle to remember her true identity provided compelling stakes. I also liked the reliably rough yet affectionate banter between the crew members, even though they didn’t get much individual development.

Overall, the concept remained intriguing, but the story still fell flat.
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YES!!!! THIS BOOK WAS SOOOOOO GOOD!! I loved it from start to finish, and even if it weren't good it's 2 women falling in love, so what could go wrong with that? I'm very excited to see what the author is going to write next.
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Much thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an eARC of Zoe Hana Mikuta's GODSLAYERS. I emphasize that this review is the summation of my personal opinions of Mikuta's novel. I did my best to be succinct.

GODSLAYERS shines through its characterization of Jenny, Eris, and Sona; Sona and Enyo's relationship; and Eris and Sona's love. In my opinion, Jenny is a strong female character done right. I applaud Mikuta for making Jenny even more loveable with this sequel. Most of the duology's banter and dark humor involves Eris. Both are things I treasure in literature. Sona becomes an absolutely fantastic character with GODSLAYERS. I found it obvious that Mikuta enjoyed writing Eris over Sona in the first book. In this second book, however, Sona is a much more compelling character. I have Enyo to thank for this improvement. Sona and Enyo's relationship is my favorite aspect of GODSLAYERS. Why? I love dramatic irony. One last praise: I applaud Mikuta for writing a book in which lovers doubt their worthiness of the other's love and still love each other in spite.

On the other hand, I believe that the biggest weakness of Mikuta's novel is its worldbuilding. Attempts to explain religion, technological history, mechvesper worshippers, fanaticism, geography--I felt like they all bogged the story down rather than built the story up. The worldbuilding of GODSLAYERS severely pales in comparison to the novel's strengths.

Final words: Tremendous and immeasurable.
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3.75 stars. This is a blisteringly paced, heavy romance that touches on a lot of themes. I do wish that we got a little more time for more world building and expansion of some of the themes we see, but I think for a second book, it does somethings slightly better than its predecessor. I do recommend reading the first book, Gearbreakers, before this one, as most of the worldbuilding is done in that book, with only small amounts of things given. There's just no time for the book to spend on rehashing information that can be found in the first book.

The characters are all charming and frustrating in equal measure, and even when you aren't sure you agree with their actions - here's looking at you, Jen - they are compelling enough to want to know what they are getting up to next. I think Sona and Eris as co-leads are great narrators as they have different voices, and the author works to make them distinct.

This is an awesome debut series that leads to a satisfying ending.

*I received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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EVERYONE READ THIS DUOLOGY! In simple terms: CYBER PUNK SAPPHIC ENEMIES TO LOVERS ROMANCE MEETS SCAWY ROBOT GODS MEETS THE FOUND FAMILY TROPE MEETS THE MOST BADASS CHARACTERS EVER! ITS SO BEAUTIFUL AND ACTION PACKED AND HEARTBREAKING AND WONDERFUL AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!
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What is so thrilling about this series and this book in particular are the relationships and the complications.  For me, I adored Gearbreakers so I was super excited for the sequel. I did consider for a brief moment if it would rise to the same heights as that first book but I should have known better. “Godslayers” is as brilliant as “Gearbreakers”, thrilling and enthralling. 

There are many reasons “Godslayers” is such a great work of fiction. First, there are giant robots which I can’t get enough of but I also like the thought process into taking down the giants. I also like the depiction of the war and how both sides have held onto anger and hate. Nobody is painted as the good guy but what does happen is that the heartbreakers, especially Eris, are tired of fighting this war. They want to find a way to end it and they can only do so with Sona’s help. It also shows rather brutally the price of war on leaders and soldiers alike. 

I also appreciate the diversity of characters. While the author doesn’t delve into depth on everyone, we get enough to see the differences and personalities of not only the main characters but also the secondaries, all are different and all solidly written. This is a rich story with a wonderful exploration of the world, complex characters, and a ton of thrilling action, especially when it comes time to take down a God.  

If you are a fan of Pacific Rim or the old animated films of giant robots and you also love untraditional romances, this is the series to pick up. If you haven’t read “Gearbreakers'', give it a try and then read “Godslayers” for the rest of the story. Each book is thrilling and enthralling with a cast of wonderful characters who I fell in love with, especially Eris and Sona. “Godslayers” is as brilliant as “Gearbreakers”, thrilling and enthralling with a gorgeous love story and thoughtful look at the price of war.
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Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers was one of the best young adult sci-fi novels of 2021 and Godslayers is just as brilliant. Godslayers hits many of the same notes as the first book. It will break your heart and put it back together again. And it will make you love the characters from the first book even more.

Godslayers starts a few months after Gearbreakers. Eris has clearly been tortured but she’s still the smart, witty, take-no-prisoners Gearbreaker we know and love. She may break down the mechas that are after her friends, but Gondolia was never going to break her.

As for Sona…well, the last time we saw her, she was being reprogrammed by the Zenith, and unfortunately, this time, it worked. She feels guilty for falling for what the Gearbreakers told her but now she is entirely loyal to the Zenith and Gondolia.

continued on Culturess.
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Overall: I had absolutely no true issues with this series and absolutely need have another book published by this author by the end of next year. I will truly miss this world.

Pros:
Writing Style. I am begging for Zoe Hana Mikuta to be in the middle of writing something else because I have not adored a writing style this way in awhile.
Mecha Fights. I will be honest, I am in love with how these are written in this work. Sci-fi needs more of these.
Romance. I mean, it is enemies-to-lovers that makes sense and feels valid.

Cons:
World-building. There are some basic world-building issues that can come with sci-fi territory.
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I think this book had the potential to be really great, but the pacing was a bit off and it dragged in the middle. I think the overall structure/timeline could have been organized better. Although it was meant to be a duology, I think this series would have been better as a trilogy. There’s a major time shift between the first and second book, where I think the second could have focused more on events in that time shift - particularly the murder of a specific someone (no names to avoid spoilers) by Jenny and the complicated relationship between Sona and Enyo. I feel that if this had been more catered to in the second book, the events following would have been more impactful. 
I still loved the relationship between Sona and Eris, and the whole crew, and the questions of morality that the book brought up. 


Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
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This was a satisfying close out to the duology. I loved how the perspectives were denoted and how the story moved. I actually felt on my toes in trying to figure out how things would play out, which I liked a lot. I also felt a lot of emotions with this one too as my eyes got watery a few times from the love & loss in the story but I also laughed at times too. I hope that we get some more books within this world from other Gearbreakers perspectives.
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“We have been so cruel to each other, and then the world was so cruel to us, too, that we forgot to keep up with it, and in the beat of that hesitation we fell in love. I turned around and realized I was looking for her all the time.”

GODSLAYERS is everything I loved about GEARBREAKERS, amplified: a twisted government willing to do anything to stay in power, the scrappy and headstrong kids determined to take them down, and the sapphic enemies-to-lovers caught up in the middle of the massive mecha combat. In the conclusion to this duology there’s even more feral queer kids, more brilliant and vicious technologies, more epic battles, more moral complexity, more fascinating religious and cultural world building, more grumpy banter and bitting affection, more angsty yearning, more Jenny Shindanai holding absolutely everything together, more gut-wrenching heartbreak, and above all, more hope. Plus! Underwater mecha fights! A masquerade ball! Sona in a suit! “You’re so dead, now come kiss me” moments! And a realistically ambiguous and utterly beautiful epilogue that had me tearing up.

I loved how this book leaned into the complexities of war: the humanity on both sides underneath the oppressive power, the difficult decisions, the painful loss of life, and the devastating, relentless emotional toll. Both Eris and Sona continue to struggle with their role in all this, how to balance the awful things they do with the greater good they are seeking. Their relationship is so powerful, not just in their love but the redemption they find together, their ability to see the “better” in each other. The writing is perfect for the action-packed young adult dystopian vibes, by turns both poetic and cheeky. There’s also more bits of Korean woven into this book.

GODSLAYERS is fierce and romantic, gritty and beautiful, and the perfect conclusion to a series I can’t recommend enough. Thanks to Pride Book Tours and Feiwel & Friends for the review copy! This book is out now.

Content warnings: violence, torture, hospitalization, poisoning, murder, death, suicidal ideation, completed suicide
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Disclaimer: I bought my own copy of the book. Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book: Godslayers

Author: Zoe Hana Mikuta

Book Series: Gearbreakers Book 2

Rating: 3.5/5

Diversity: Bisexual Asian inspired MC, Lesbian Asian inspired MC, sapphic romance

Recommended For...: young adult readers, sci-fi, LGBT, queer, dystopian, mechas

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian

Age Relevance:16+ (violence, gore, religion, cursing, torture, alcohol consumption, death, parental death, romance)

Explanation of Above: There was a lot of violence, weapons and physical, and gore with blood and some mentions of vomit. There is also a lot of death mentioned, especially parental death. Religion is discussed and mentioned throughout the book. There is torture mentioned and shown throughout the book. There is a lot of cursing. There is one mention of alcohol consumption. There is some romance and some show of PTSD.

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Pages: 402

Synopsis: The only way to kill a god is from the inside...

The Gearbreakers struck a devastating blow against Godolia on Heavensday, but the cost of victory has been steep. Months later, the few rebels who've managed to escape the tyrannical empire's bloody retribution have fled to the mountains, hunted by the last Zenith--Godolia's only surviving leader.

Eris has been held prisoner since the attack on the capital city, which almost killed her. And she begins to wish it had when she discovers Sona--the girl she loves, the girl she would tear down cities for--also survived, only to be captured and Corrupted by the Zenith. The cybernetic brainwashing that Sona has forcibly undergone now has her believing herself a loyal soldier for Godolia, and Eris' mortal enemy.

With the rebellion shattered and Godolia moving forward with an insidious plan to begin inducting Badlands children into a new Windup Pilot program, the odds have never been more stacked against the Gearbreakers. Their last hope for victory will depend on whether Eris and Sona can somehow find their way back to each other from opposite sides of a war...

Review: For the most part this was a fun read. The book immediately picked up from the first book and it didn’t let up throughout the book. The book is a fun enemies to lovers that plays with a few tropes to keep up that vibe throughout. The character development continued in this book and was great and I loved the romance overall.

However, there were a few issues I had. I was confused throughout most of the book because it just felt like anytime the main characters were in a life or death situation, they immediately got out of it. The book continues to need more background world building. The book is incredibly too fast paced. And the time jumps annoyed the hell out of me. I feel like time jumps are incredibly lazy writing and I wish that more was done with that time than just jumping around and confusing the audience. This is another book that feels like it should have been two books, which is a shame cause the concept overall is amazing.

Verdict: It’s good just needs to be developed more.
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This book. This FREAKING book. I enjoyed Gearbreakers, the setting was fantastic, the characters were beyond lovable, and the world-building was intense and entertaining. But somehow, Mikuta has been able to up the stakes in every conceivable way with the conclusion to this duology. It's amazing to see how much growth there has been in her writing just from one book to another. Mikuta was able to inject so much tension into each scene, which had me turning the pages until I reached the very end. 

I loved all of Eris's Gearbreakers in the first book, but this story made me even more attached to all her kids (which makes the third act even more heartbreaking). Speaking of the third act, the stress that I was put under for the entire last half of the book was entirely unfair and I will be sending Mikuta my therapy bill. It was in this half of the book, however, that her writing really shined. 

Eris and Sona were lovable main characters as always, but Sona's arc in particular stood out to me. Normally I'm not a fan of storylines in which a character's memory is lost or altered, but Sona's reprogramming didn't last any longer than necessary, and added another layer of complexity to the story. Her bond with the Zenith was so complicated, and it was hard for me to reconcile what he did to her with the undeniable connection they shared. I really enjoyed Eris and Sona's awareness of the complexity of their world. They were deeply concerned with the unfair situation that they had been placed in, with children being forced to committing horribly violent acts on both sides of the battles, which was an added layer I really appreciated. 

I don't want to say much more in terms of the plot, because SO MUCH happens and I don't want to spoil it, but I absolutely adored the conclusion to this duology. It was tense and well-written, action packed with an amazing sapphic romance to pull it all together, with one of the best found families in any book I have read, and cemented itself as a must-read for anyone who loves sci-fi, and anyone who wants to get into the genre. 

How are the characters/plot? Is it riddled with tropes? Is it based on actual events? Providing some plot or points in the plot that you loved or hated will help. Which characters did you love? Which characters made you seethe with hatred?

What are your overall feelings? Would you recommend this book? I feel like everyone has an overall feeling about a book even if it’s short or just the rating. If you were to elevator pitch this book to a friend, what would you say?
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Godslayers picks up where Gearbreakers leaves off, and in some ways that's good; in others, less so. I read Gearbreakers about a year ago, and I had trouble following Godslayers because there were parts of the story, and aspects of the characters, that I had forgotten, which made the story hard to follow. Once I read enough to recall the first book, it went better - but this is not a book I'd recommend to anyone who hasn't read the first one; I was confused enough having read it, and I would think it would be even more confusing for anyone who hasn't read Gearbreakers. Many of the things that were explained in Gearbreakers - where the pilots come from, why the fight, and why they rebel - are taken for granted in Godslayers. I appreciate that there was not a lot of repetition - but a little more repetition from Gearbreakers would have been helpful.

That said, Godslayers, like Gearbreakers, is a fast-paced novel about Godolia, a world where gods are present in every day life - but they are giant cyborg machines with teens inside them, worshiped by the masses who don't really understand what they are, but know that anyone with the talent may be picked out of the gutter and raised to pilot. But this is a fascist society, one that punishes disobedience far more easily than it rewards following the rules, and Eris and her crew of gearbreakers are continuing their quest to break the power of the machines, and the government they support, forever. Plagued by a tenuous existence in a city atop a mine that Godolia must have the ore from to survive, suspecting a spy when their every move is predicted by their enemies, the gearbreakers continue trying to defeat the last remaining elite pilot, the one who rules Godolia, in a desperate bid for freedom.
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The only way to kill a god is from the inside...
Didn't realize this was a sequel so oh boy did this all go over my head. It was cool though! Super fun.
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Godslayers is the closing to the Godslayers duology and it closed with a bang. I think Godslayers did a really good job wrapping up the plot and characters. It did a good job of picking up where it left off, especially after the cliffhanger that Gearbreakers ended on, which a lot of sequels typically fail at doing.

I did find that the first third of the book was a little slow, but it quickly picked up pace and never felt repetitive. Even in that first part of the book, it’s still good at holding your attention.

The characters are the main highlight of this book, however. I absolutely adore the two main characters, Sona and Eris. They are both fully-realized and their trauma is handled really well. Their romance is also done well; their chemistry is effortless.

Overall, Godslayers is a great sequel to Gearbreakers and perfect if you loved the last book. Give this duology a read!
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All opinions are my own. 

Zoe has done it again! Godslayers was just as incredible and enticing as Gearbreakers and I couldn't get enough. This is a game changer in sci-fi and if you haven't started this series I just have one question: why? It is so good! The writing, the description, the plot, the characters: just everything was perfect!
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If you enjoy action-centric novels with a very cool flair, this is a solid follow up to Gearbreakers, which is also a high-action / dystopian novel. Think Hunger Games meets Pacific Rim, but all the monsters are human.

I enjoyed to further development of Jenny’s character probably the most in this, although I would have liked to see a bit more of an inner struggle play out with the whole concept of “now I am turning myself into what I have always known to hate.” I thought the character of Enyo, the last Zenith, was an interesting addition, and his complicated friendship with Sona was one of the more compelling storylines, and was honestly more interesting than her relationship with Eris. In this book, for me, their relationship felt a little too easy, too fated. Their banter was still fun! I thought it was a pretty good sequel, and enjoyed the duology overall, but I wish we had explored the characters a little more deeply. For example, Sona’s connection to her driving purpose for wanting to destroy Godolia is hardly mentioned in Godslayers, and while there is a plausible reason for this, that reason isn’t explored, which seems like a missed opportunity for some interesting internal conflict; similarly, it would have been great to get some more backstory on Enyo and his motivations, which are introduced, but get glossed over in the haze of all the battle scenes. The ratio of action to character development in this sequel is about 70/30 — but don’t get me wrong, the action scenes are still *very* cool. Looking forward to seeing more of Mikuta in the YA scene!

Thanks to NetGalley for the arc — check out Godslayers on June 28, 2022!
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If you read Gearbreakers and loved it, you'll likely enjoy this book too. If you were on the fence at all about your enjoyment of Gearbreakers, it's probably best if you skip this conclusion.

I was frustrated at the ending of the first book in this duology but had generally enjoyed it so I decided to give the sequel a chance. I figured that the sequel would provide a chance to see how Mikuta's writing had matured and a more satisfying ending than that of the first book. I was unfortunately proven wrong.

Many of the issues from the first book continued through this one. I also found the pacing of this book to be horrifically confusing and extremely frustrating. Until about 60% of the way through this novel, I was following what was going on for the most part. After that point, all sense of pacing disappeared. Chapters randomly jump weeks to months ahead after significant events instead of sticking with these characters through moments that would show who these characters even truly are outside of a fight.

The plot twists in this book were either painfully obvious far before the reveal or fully out of left-field and left me blindsided. I didn't feel like any of the reveals were satisfying or really clarified anything within the world-building of the book. They existed to shock the reader and then be mostly swept away soon after. Despite the overwhelming amount of death in this book, the stakes never felt major for either of the main characters, in part because tension never really had the chance to build. They were thrown from one fight to the next to the next, and any moments of doubting their survival were almost immediately dispelled.

I was hoping this book would deliver on the payoff of a final face-off with Enyo where Sona's decisions came full circle, instead there was no real final battle or face-off, just a conversation and what I found to be a severely disappointing conclusion. The ending is extremely underwhelming and left me saying "That's it? That was all that needed to happen to make everything better this entire time?" which was definitely not the takeaway I desired.

It isn't a terrible conclusion but it definitely isn't the improvement over the first book that I had hoped for either.
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