Monday, May 8, 2023

Review | In the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune

Source: review copy provided by publisher. This is a review of my reading experience.

In the Lives of Puppets is the latest fantasy novel from T.J. Klune.

In the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots--fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They're a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled "HAP," he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio's former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic's assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

Author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

My three star rating for In the Lives of Puppets hurts a bit. This really is a wonderful book, but my overall feelings land me somewhere in the middle.

I'll start off with some of the great things about In the Lives of Puppets. I love T.J. Klune's writing, and I love his messages on hope and kindness and just seeing the world through a Klune lens. In the Lives of Puppets reminded me of the Rampart trilogy (Book of Koli) by M.R. Carey in many ways. They are both about humanity, the destruction of humanity, Artificial Intelligence, and the world after AI. I loved and cared for the characters in In the Lives of Puppets - both human and AI. The world Klune created was fascinating, and I was in love with the first half of the book.

Now for the parts that didn't work as well for me. At the halfway part, In the Lives of Puppets went the way of Fairy Tale by Stephen King. To this day, I still haven't finished reading Fairy Tale. I have such a hard time reorienting myself when there is a complete change of setting and plot. It really bogs the book down and makes it a slog for me. I did eventually get 100% reinvested, but then I had to suffer my least favorite trope of all tropes. So this was a mixed reading experience for me.

Even when In the Lives of Puppets wasn't working for me, the beauty of it all was still there. I can see why people are head over heels for this story. I loved these characters. I won't forget any of them. I also loved Klune's thoughts on AI. There were just too many times I felt like I was having to push through.

3/5 stars


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  1. I'm sorry this didn't quite work for you. I've heard similar things from other readers, so I'm not too surprised.

    1. That makes me feel better, Tammy. I think their are going to be some reader preferences with this one.

  2. So I have to ask...what's your least favorite trope of all tropes???

  3. Sorry this book didn't work for you as well as you hoped it would. I absolutely loved CERULEAN SEA, and I'm listening to WHISPERING DOOR now, so I'm sure I'll read this one too.

    1. Yes! You should. I loved Whispering Door, and I really want to read Cerulean Sea.


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