TW: suicide, graphic violence, gaslighting, manipulation
Our favorite morally grey sci-fi sapphics are back in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Godslayers. If you thought the first book ended at rock bottom, have no fear Eris and Sona both have their pick axes sharpened and are ready to dig. We last saw our main characters in the ruin of Godolia, after attempting to wipe out the despotic government once and for all. They almost succeeded, only one Zenith survived the destruction but he has plans for our girls. Sona undergoes “corruption” to turn her loyalties against the gearbreakers and Eris is to be used as proof that it has worked. When Sona is ordered to execute Eris in front of the Zenith and all the remaining wind-ups, Godolia’s tech and her love are put to the test. The stakes only get higher from there. Jenny and the rest of the gearbreakers were attacked on the Winterward ice and the few that survived barely escaped drowning in the freezing water. Any doubts that Jenny might have had about the evils of Godolia have been eradicated and she is going to do whatever it takes to bring them down.
If Gearbreakers is about rage then Godslayers is about grief. Jenny is grieving the town full of people that they couldn’t save and the trust of her fellow gearbreakers that she will never get back. Eris is grieving the loss of her team members and, of course, Sona. Bellsona is grieving for the people she has killed as well as the version of herself that was stolen from her. But following this grief is healing, even when it hurts. Behind all this rage and grief is the backbone of the series, love. At its heart this is a love story, both romantic and platonic. Love for each other, love for their people, and love of the world they hope to make. That’s what keeps both the characters and the readers from succumbing to these emotional extremes.
“I did a bad thing to save her, and it damned her, so I’m going to do worse to get her back.”
The change in atmosphere from this burning anger that drives the characters forward in the first book to the sheer exhaustion and frustration of watching the world fall apart around you is palpable within the first few pages. The war has escalated and the remaining gearbreakers are faced with choices they wouldn’t have imagined making in a million years just weeks before. The question posed in this book is how far would you go for the person you love and both Eris and Sona answered “As far as it takes“. If you’re looking for a sapphic couple that would burn the world down for each other, this is the book for you.
The society in Gearbreakers respects kids that are involved in incredibly dangerous situations and treats them as adults. And because of the in-world attitude towards child soldiers on both sides, I had previously wondered why Gearbreakers was YA. Why not go ahead and just age them up a few years? But Godslayers makes it incredibly clear. Eris’ crew is hauntingly young and traumatized. Eris and Sona aren’t even legal adults yet and look at all they have been through. Even the last Zenith himself is just a teenager. While Gearbreakers came close to glorifying the violence that was taking place, Godslayers reckons with the horrors of war head-on. Mikuta does not pull a single punch the entire book and keeps you wondering who will make it out alive or if any of them will.
I had initially felt like the first third of the book was too simple, but after finishing it I think the simplicity was a deliberate tactic to show just how young and exhausted the characters are. No one is in the right mind to be making complex plans but they also can’t sit there and do nothing.
Overall, I think Godslayers was the perfect ending to this deadly and divine duology and I cannot wait to see what Zoe Hana Mikuta writes next!