Hullmetal Girls is a sci-fi adventure with tinges of dystopian fiction. Humans left Earth over 300 years ago and are traveling the stars, searching for a habitable planet to make their new home. The fleet is made up of many ships, with the richest and most elite up front. The caste system follows the fleet down to the “back end,” where the poor and unprivileged live.
There are hybrid humans called Scela, who are warrior “machines” that work for the General Body. They are part human and part metal, with an exoskeleton that sits on their backs and is, depending on who you ask, a parasite, a symbiont, or a sentient A.I. type intelligence that gives humans strength, better senses, and makes them powerful warriors.
To become Scela, doctors stretch humans to seven feet tall. They implant metal and ports, stretch their bones and skin. The Scela exorig attaches like a metal spine and runs down the back. Once you are joined, the exo’s cold consciousness is a part of you.
The main story follows two young women, Key Tanaka and Aisha Un-Haad. It is told from their POVs. They have two other members of their basic training team, Wooj and Praava. Praava became Scela to help fund her sister’s medical research. Marshal Jesuit is their mentor and instructor during basic training.
Aisha follows the Ledic religion. Everything she does is for her sister and younger brother, who is sick. She became Scela to provide for them financially. She is strong-willed, loyal, and her faith gets her through tough times.
Key Tanaka can’t remember why she became Scela. She has holes. She is also strong-willed, angry, and wants to be the best Scela. She and Aisha kind of have issues being team players and they don’t really like each other.
Along the way, we find out there is a group called the Fractionists who do not believe the General Body leaders are doing what is best for the fleet and that the fleet should break up.
I really liked this. I love the whole rebellion against the tyrannical government thing. This had a unique twist on that, taking place in outer space and involving cyborg-like humans. I think the author did a good job with diversity representation. Aisha is asexual, which is not something you usually see in books.
The four of them are sometimes linked through the exosystem and can hear each other’s thoughts and know their feelings. It’s not always pleasant. But in the end, they become friends and family.
Overall, this was a quick and enjoyable read. I really liked The Abyss Surrounds Us, so was hoping I would like this too.