Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 427
intriguing alternate historical fiction read
Overall rating
Writing Style
THE GREAT DESTROYERS is an intriguing alternate history that brings robot fighting into the Cold War. Jo is a teenager who is trying hard to keep her family afloat. She and her father do whatever they can to earn enough money to keep a roof over their and her brother's heads. Jo is a skilled mecha fighter, but her gender and biracial ethnicity holds her back from recruitment and other economic benefits. She fights in underground matches, where she is just a body in a suit, to earn what money she can.

Her life is about to change when the new female senator (who got her position as a temporary hold after her husband's death - the gender inequalities persist as per this time period) recruits her to be on the US mecha fighting team in the Pax Games. As Jo enters the games as an unexpected replacement in Team USA, she realizes there is more going on behind the scenes than she realized, and she is soon caught up in it.

What I loved: This was an intriguing alternate historical fiction, and I appreciated the ideas that parallel the history we know. Instead of other weapons, these mechas, known as goliaths in the US, were created during WWI and honed for warfare, but then also used for these battles (like wrestling or boxing). The historical context is brought to life in a new way in this book, including the context of the Cold War and the racism and sexism of the era. Other themes, such as socioeconomic disparity and privilege, make this a thought-provoking read.

What left me wanting more: As small points, the book felt a bit lengthy in places with some uneven pacing, and I almost wanted more context for the mechas to really understand how the fighting works.

Final verdict: An intriguing alternate historical fiction, THE GREAT DESTROYERS is a story about family, perseverance, and politics.
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