Title: In The Lives of Puppets
Author: TJ Klune
Release Date: April 25h, 2023
Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy – LGBTQIA+
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
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 THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“What are the rules?
Run if we have to.
And above all else, be brave!”
It’s no secret that I’ve been loving TJ Klune’s books and this latest release is no exception. Though I have to admit I was a bit hesitant at first because I heard “Pinocchio-retelling with robots” and umm… I’m not exactly a huge fan of either. But it was still TJ Klune, who is becoming an auto-buy author for me, so I knew I had to give it a chance. And I’m so glad I did, because I fell in love with these characters and their little found family so much. I laughed and I cried while listening to this story. It’s a feel-good story that’ll also make you think and feel everything. So basically, everything I’ve learned to expect and love from TJ Klune’s writing. Here are the highlights:
Wonderful characters with so much depth
In the Lives of Puppets is a very character-driven story, so naturally the characters are what makes the story. We have our main character Vic (Victor), a human who lives in the forest and enjoys inventing and fixing things with items found at the scrapyard. He lives with his father Gio (a kind old inventor android with a wooden heart), Rambo (a little vacuum robot who likes to talk and has anxiety about everything) and Nurse Ratched (a sociopathic nursing robot who excels at the sass and the sarcasm).
And of course, the story starts off when the group find Hap (short for Hysterically Angry Puppet) in the scrapyard and revive him. Hap doesn’t remember who he is, he is grumpy and angry (hence the name) but also in awe of things like butterflies and music and super protective of Victor.
Like I said, I wasn’t a fan of robots before, but now I can safely say I am a fan of robots that are written by TJ Klune. I loved all of these characters so much and though Victor is the main character, all of them have so much depth and personality and were a joy to read about.
An epic adventure in a unique and intriguing world
I feel like the plot is something you kind of have to dive in and just experience, so I won’t go in too much detail, but I really enjoyed it. When trouble arrives at the quiet and peaceful forest home, the group is forced to leave their safe haven and go on an epic quest. Along the way they meet some interesting friends and foes and have an adventurous journey.
While the worldbuilding is quite low (as the focus is more on the characters), I still felt like we learned enough about this world and it was fleshed out enough to get invested in the storyline and make it a believable tale.
Humor and hilarious banter
I love TJ Klune’s brand of humor. It’s witty and dry and sarcastic and unexpected and full of heart. I laughed so much and that was mostly the doing of Rambo and Nurse Ratched and any interaction either of them had with any other character.
A found family that will tug at your heartstrings
At the heart of it all, this was just another amazing found family. The connection these characters have with one another, and the bond they grow with newcomer Hap, is just so heartwarming.
Amazing narration by Daniel Henning
I highly recommend listening to this story on audio as Daniel Henning is the narrator and he really makes the story come alive. The specific voice for each and every character was so vivid and I felt like the narration really uplifted the story to a whole new level.
Overall, I highly recommend this story if you’re a fan of TJ Klune’s recent releases. It has everything I loved in previous TJ Klune faves: lots of humor and hilarious banter, wonderful characters with so much depth, an epic adventure in a unique and intriguing world, and above all, a found family that will tug at your heartstrings.
“Be warned, a heart is not like the battery you used to have. It’s strong, but fragile.
It will lift you up. It will ache without reason. You’ll find yourself feeling things you never thought possible. A heart changes everything.”
“Socrates- he believed that happiness comes not from bodily pleasures or wealth or power, but from living a life that’s right for your soul.”
“Because all beings deserve a chance to find out what life could be when they don’t have to serve others.”
“I do not know if he can be repaired. I hope so, because I believe that I have a crush on him. Or I want to crush him. I am not sure which it is.” The words on her screen read RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD.”
“I’ll k-kill you.”
A big, pink heart appeared on her screen. “I am old enough to be your motherboard. Please do not flirt with me if you do not mean it.”
“I’m also good” Rambo said.
“You seem to be suffering from an intense anxiety disorder. But that is fine. We are all unique. Victor is asexual. Giovanni is old. And I have sociophatic tendencies that manifest themselves in dangerous situations.”
“Hooray!” Rambo squealed.”