|Print List Price:||$18.99|
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Random House LLC
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LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike) Kindle Edition
|Length: 416 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 12 - 17||Grade Level: 7 - 9|
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The story revolves around Eve, who we quickly find out pilots battle robots known as “machina”. The story starts with a dark intro that reveals a tiny bit of Eve’s back story. Things then get off to a fast pace with an intense domefight where Eve is a participant in a robotic death match. We are introduced to Eve’s best friend Lemon Fresh and Eve’s small logika (robot) companion Cricket during this time. Eve loses the match and her machina is destroyed. In the wake of the defeat, Eve subsequently discovers she is an “abnormal”, a person with special powers.
After a narrow escape from the death match, the group meets up with Eve’s cyborg pooch Kaiser and head home. On the way home, the group observe an event that leads them to a scrap yard where they discover a humanoid robot known as a Lifelike. They decide to take the Lifelike home with them for parts and that sets the main narrative into motion. I can’t really say much more without revealing spoilers or narrative beyond what the book description already shares. However, what follows is an intense tale of conflict and deceit leading to an epic journey across a dystopian landscape focusing on survival and self-discovery. Prepare for a wild adventure along with some truly fun nonstop action and mind blowing revelations. It’s so hard to say any more without revealing any twists or spoiling parts of the tale, so I’ll just leave my synopsis at that.
The story takes place in a fascinating post-apocalyptic world that Kristoff brings to life through very vivid and descriptive imagery along with engaging narrative. The character development is well done as readers are initially fed tiny bits and morsels of backstory until bigger and more surprising revelations begin to take place. I found myself emotionally invested into the characters, even Cricket and Kaiser. I esepcially liked Cricket due to his snarky attitude and comic relief moments. The story is very well executed and entertaining. I found myself occasionally reading until 1 or 2am, unable to put the book down after a nightly reading session.
Although teens and adults alike will love this story, I must share that the book does contain violence (graphic at times), mild profanity and sexual suggestions. The sexual suggestions are implied rather than explicit and are integral to the plot. Although I wouldn’t suggest this for preteens or early teens, late teens should be mature enough for the content.
There is also a question echoing throughout the story. Who - or what - defines what a slave is? Can a slave be something created, or does it's very programming remove the aspect of slavery? And for slaves and free, how much do our choices define who we really are, and how much does nurture vs. nature play a part? These seem like heavy themes - and they are. However, it really wasn't until I finished reading the book (That damn ending again!) that I really stopped and allowed the impact to sort of sink in. Honestly, anyone could read this book and not get that out of it and just enjoy the robots, the battles, and the bit of romance. But for others - there are definitely thought-provoking aspects that I cannot wait to be explored further as the trilogy carries on.
Kristoff has done it again, creating the start of a trilogy that takes the classic story of nuclear devastation, and making it all his own. Be warned - he will gladly get you hooked, then take your heart and chew it up and spit it out...and you *will* come back for more.
1. His books are never put downable.
2. For good or bad, he makes you fall in love with his characters.
3. The author doesn’t do “happy endings”…
The final war, you see, War 4.0, will not be a world war, it will be a corporate war that America, of course, starts and ends leaving the landscape, and life as we know it, completely changed and rearranged. The bombings will turn the desert states into glass, San Andreas will erupt and California will fall away, just like it has always wanted to do, to become an island called Kalifornya, AKA The Dregs. Now it is where the flotsam and jetsam, literally and figuratively, goes to die. There’s even a really cool map to prove it.
Eve and her grandpa live in The Dregs. She spends her time building bots to fight in the Dome for purse so she can pay for grandpa’s meds. It’s just her and grandpa; the pretty people who haunt her night terrors assassinated the rest of her family. Her bestest is the best with the best name. Found as an infant in an empty detergent box, Lemon Fresh, or Lemon, or Lem, has lived with Eve and her grandpa since they caught her pickpocketing them two years ago.
When the bots were created, the machina were programmed to protect and obey humans at any cost. Science progressed and the logika were created, machines with onboard intelligence, capable of independent thought. The machina that followed the logika, called lifelikes, look and talk like humans. They feel as humans do. They also have independent thought. But they are still regarded as tools, as weapons, as slaves.
Eve owns a couple of logika built and programmed by grandpa; Kaiser, the blitzhund, and Eve’s own robotic little Jiminy Cricket. Cricket likes to sit on Eve’s shoulder and fret and snark and pass judgment; he may be annoying but he’s fiercely loyal and don’t ever call him little. Kaiser, well, everyone should have a blitzhund like Kaiser. And this weird little family of a gear head, a cutpurse, a rusty worrywart, a bot dog with razor teeth and grandpa live together in The Dregs amongst the mountains of tires and streets of dead fridges until the night Eve makes a couple of deadly discoveries.
Then the story takes off…
The characters get slimed, sewered, sticky, grimy, smelly, hungry and tired. And that’s just the first half of the book. These people are true walking and talking bacteria cultures and I couldn’t help but cringe whenever they hugged one another. They are stalked by a psycho named Preacher. There are hunted by murderous creatures called lifelikes. Eve keeps having flashbacks to a life that wasn’t hers. Lemon gets funnier and funnier. Cricket is given more reasons to fuss. Thank god for Evie’s stunbat, Excalibur, or they would have been fish food chapters ago. And then there is the pretty problem of Ezekiel…
Kristoff can take the saddest or grossest or most scream-worthy scene and still make the reader laugh with that twisted sense of humor and wicked timing of his. His dialogue is snappy and clever. And his characters, especially the two most kickass women in sci-fi today, are wondrous creations. I actually cared about that damn Cricket and I hated Jiminy Cricket every time I watched Pinocchio.
There is romance and heartbreak. Triumph and failure. Loyalty and bald-faced lying. Love and ohmygodgetawayfromme. Family and…family. Take the best parts of Mad Max and X-Men, add a bit of Wizard of Oz, a dash of the Bible, a ton of fairy tales, and a swirl of pre-WWI Russian history and you might, just might, get a hint as to what you are in for. Otherwise, go with your gut and dive right in, you won’t be disappointed.
Speaking of gut, Kristoff shows just how scary the immune system can be up close.
It’s a fun ride. Cannot wait for the next book.