Book Reviews

Book Review: In the Lives of Puppets

By TJ Klune

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

417 Pages

Giovanni Lawson (designation: GIO) built a home hidden away in a deep forest. After a few decades, he became lonely, so he created a human son.  Then father and son rescued and fixed other robots – the ornery Nurse Ratched and childlike Rambo, forming an unlikely family.  But when Victor salvaged Hap from the scrap yard and built him a heart, it’s the end of everything Victor has known.  The Authority tracked down Gio and took him back to the City of Electric Dreams.

With their home in ruins, the ragtag group set out to rescue their father.  Never mind it’s over hundreds of miles of unknown terrain, filled with unimaginable dangers, and none of them are authorized to be alive or functioning.  They’re a family, and they have each other’s backs, despite Gio’s and Hap’s secret past.  Because our past does not define our future and even puppets have choices.

“In the Lives of Puppets” interpreted by Wombo Dream

Like a lot of people, I could not wait to read this book.  Since I’d only read The House on the Cerulean Sea by this author, I was expecting another fantasy/magical realism novel.  Not so – this one is more speculative fiction/sci-fi.  (I know what you’re thinking – maybe I should read the synopsis before starting a book.  But where’s the fun in that?) Regardless that the genre didn’t match my expectations, it did have what I was expecting – a whole lot of love.  Love for friends, love for family, and love for…robots.  The robots I did not expect but love is love is love.  And that is such a huge theme in this book.  Without getting preachy, it was stated over and over that it’s what’s on the inside and our current choices that counts, not past behavior or our conventionality.  That family is who we choose and once that choice is made, we look out for them.

So this one had all the feels but honestly, what knocked this out of the park for me was the secondary characters.  Sometimes a supporting character will almost outshine the hero and, like Lucifer in The House on the Cerulean Sea, Nurse Ratched stole almost every scene (at least in my opinion).  Victor was on a true hero’s journey and his arc was solid.  But I kept waiting to see what Nurse Ratched would do next to make me laugh.  I was never disappointed.

I don’t think I have anything critical to say about this book.  Solid arc.  ALL the feels.  A little melancholy but hopeful at the end.  And the Pinocchio references were perfect.

Final rating: 4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐+

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for providing the ARC ebook.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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