Kita’s life is one big struggle growing up a lesbian in the conservative Mojave Desert. She’s barely getting by, fighting to hold on to her dad’s failing junkyard—all she has left of him. It’s hard enough being a girl running a salvage yard, if the town found out her sexuality, she could lose more than the yard, she could lose her life.
When three vehicles from a shipment go missing, Kita tracks them down in an abandoned factory where she’s attacked by the evil Neophormes and rescued by their mortal enemies, the valiant biomechanical Velixen. Normally shy and reserved, Kita is enraptured by the aliens’ warrior leader Velositi.
Velositi is on a mission to find the Axiom of Command, an artifact that will save her planet by anointing a powerful leader. And she believes Kita is the key to finding it. The Neophormes have chased Velositi and her team across the galaxy, seeking the Axiom for their own ends. Velositi is ready for danger. What she’s is not prepared for is falling in love with Kita.
I struggled with this book. There are parts of this story that, in theory, should have appealed to me: galactic politics, overarching world building, found families, and an alien culture coming into conflict with humanity. Instead, it turned into what felt like an interpretation of the Transformers movies with a dash of Jupiter Ascending thrown in. And, that’s fine. Not what I thought it would be, but every book is its own adventure, and I try to be up for all of them. The writing isn’t bad. It falls right into that ‘okay’ line for me where it’s easy enough to read, but doesn’t pull me in. The story’s pacing was okay. Things moved along quickly enough that I wasn’t bored, but — again — I just wasn’t caught up in the story.
This book’s greatest flaw, for me, is the characters, who fall into broad, shallow stereotypes. The Morphicons are Sprokkit, Bernoot (Burnout), and Velositi. The villains — the Neophormes — take the shape of a cop car called Nitstik (Nightstick) and Boom-Boom the Boombox. There’s nothing wrong with tongue-in-cheek names, but on hearing them I half expected this to turn into something more akin to a parody or a comedy, but by the point I stopped reading, that didn’t seem to be the case. All of the male alien robots are big, heavy, muscled figures who turn into cars, trucks, ambulances, and such. All of the female alien robots are small and sleek, with boobs, who turn into sexy motorcycles. They are not organically born, they are built, so why the gender dimorphism? Why do they so closely follow human aesthetics if they’re not human or made by humans?
Speaking of humans, there’s Kita, the main character. I did not find her to be an engaging or rewarding character to read. Her emotions never feel as if they’re born out of circumstance, as much as put on to match the situation. A girl from Earth finds out robots exist? Cool. They want to kill her for … reasons? Time to cry. Velocity saves Kira and wants to protect her? Oh, but she’s not worthy! But wait, is this her chance to be a great hero? Okay! All of this in less than a page. It didn’t — and doesn’t, and never seems to — matter who Kita is. She’s just a puppet, saying what the she’s supposed to and I believe none of it.
Kita meets a young man, they race their motorcycles — she’s on Velocity, who has already fallen in love with her because reasons — and on winning and informing the young man she doesn’t want to kiss him because he’s a boy, he says it’s cool. Kita’s thought: I have a new bestest friend in the whole wide world! She knows 1) his name 2) he has a bike, and 3) he doesn’t care she’s gay. She’s also known him less than five minutes, but they’re friends for life.
It goes on like that. The events themselves aren’t bad. The writing isn’t bad. But the lack of personality from any of the characters, the lack of any explanation or reason as to why anyone thinks, feels, likes, or dislikes anything made it very hard for me to want to continue. Conversations go on and on, delving and twisting into meticulous detail and yet get nowhere. Action scenes are abbreviated, and at times feel very derivative of the source of inspiration. The world building is all over the place. The prologue has angels, the story has alien robots, and yet we’re on Earth — an Earth of Apple computers, android phones, and My Little Pony. Even so, there’s an Imperial Government? Kita swears by bloody moons, says “what in the crushing depths,” or “o, slag.” Maybe there’s an explanation to all of this further on in the book, but I just couldn’t make it that far. By the time the Illuminati was brought in, I was ready to check out. That’s not to say it’s a terrible book. It just wasn’t one I wanted to keep reading.