Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Review: August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White

August Kitko and the Mechas from Space
(The Starmetal Symphony #1)
Alex White
Release: July 12, 2022
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When an army of giant robot AIs threatens to devastate Earth, a virtuoso pianist becomes humanity's last hope in this bold, lightning-paced, technicolor new space opera series from the author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe. 

Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards--ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine. 

But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens--the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus's swan song becomes humanity's encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity.

Do you ever start a book and know within the first chapter that you are going to love it? August Kitko and the Mechas from Space was one of those books for me. This book is hands down my favorite book of the year so far! I tried to savor this exquisite space opera slowly but it was such a cinematic thrill ride that I ended up devouring it in every free moment I had. Holy Moly, y'all! I never knew I needed a book that combined music and mechas! Add in that it was an epic Gays in Space romp that is so delightfully and unapologetically queer and my heart was a goner! I cannot tell you how excited I am that this is the first book in a trilogy because I need more! Alex White is quickly cementing their place on my favorite authors of all time list.

It is the end of the world for humanity and all August Kitko wants to do is kiss gorgeous rockstar Ardent Violet and jam with them before they die. Then the unthinkable happens during their impromptu rockfest to play out the end of the human race. One of the murderous alien robots scoops Gus up so he and the rogue Vanguard can work together to destroy another Vanguard hellbent on destroying Earth. And it is nonstop action from that moment on.

I have been obsessed with mechas since I was a kid and the Traitor Vanguards have taken their spot on my favorites list. The Vanguards are like the Pacific Rim mechas on steroids had a baby with an AI. They are truly alien and have done some despicable things but are scarily cool. Actually, the only scarier thing than a Vanguard is their army of Golden Ghosts. The mecha battles in this book are so epic! Alex White did a fantastic job designing and outfitting the Vanguards with their abilities and weaponry! Each was so unique and I couldn't wait to see what they had up their sleeve next! And be still my heart! The tech in this book was absolutely fabulous in more ways than one!

I came for the mechas and space battles but I stayed for the characters and the romance. The story is told from the dual POVs of August and Ardent and I love them both so much! I just want to wrap Gus in a blanket and keep him safe. What I love about this book is that the characters are deeply flawed and not instantly transformed into badasses when they become Conduits. They feel more human because of it. Gus is a depressed cinnamon roll who knows more about jazz music than he does fighting styles. He's a bit mopey but his heart is ready to help save humanity anyway he can. His heart is also totally gone for rockstar Ardent Violet and he would do anything to keep him safe.

I loved so many characters in this book but hands down my favorite character is Ardent! They are loud and proud and a more than self-obsessed. But they have a heart of gold, can admit when they're wrong, and are totally head over heels for Gus (and their guitar, Baby) and just want to be their joyfriend. I found myself anticipating their POVs and when they would be present on page. They are gloriously epic with a wardrobe to match. I loved them and their agent, Dahlia, so much! I lived for the moments when Ardent and Gus got to be together on page. Their relationship and its development was so well done that I was literally squealing out loud at the cute one moment and yelling at them to get their act together the next.

I could go on and on about what and how much I loved this book but it is one that discovering its awesomeness is best done by reading it yourself. I need more space operas like this one in my life and the wait for book two next year might just kill me. If you are a fan of The Murderbot Diaries and/or Pacific Rim, this book is for you!

CW (this is what I caught. There could be more.): suicidal thoughts, blood, gore, injury/injury detail, violence,  panic attacks, body horror, medical trauma.

ARC provided by the Publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of:
Pacific Rim
The Murderbot Diaries
Voltron: Legendary Defender

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