Happy Book Birthday to Lifel1k3! This wonderful ride of a book hit shelves in the US today.
Point of order: When reading a book Jay Kristoff is involved in, do not get complacent. Just when you think you see where the story is going, be prepared to be proven wrong. Repeatedly.
On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.
Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.
But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.
Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.
Well, it’s exactly what it says right there on the tin. The Australian tin, that is.
It’s Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-Men, with a little bit of Blade Runner cheering from the sidelines.
That’s a pretty accurate description of the whole book, complete with guns a-blazing car chases through the irradiated desert. It’s a frantic story that grabs you by the hand as it’s running away from explosions and kind of throws story at you while it’s on the move. Just, as I said before, don’t get complacent.
Jay Kristoff is a snake. He lulls you into a false sense of security and then while the sirens are blaring, explosions in the background and the whole team is running for their lives, he’s gonna pull the rug out from under you. Not once, not twice, but over and over again. Lifel1k3 is full of moments when just as I’ve fallen into the rhythm of the story I’m tripped up by a twist in the plot.
Jay is the King of the Plot Twist.
The main cast is comprised of loveable misfits.
- Eve who just wants to make enough to buy her Grandpa’s meds
- Lemon Fresh, Eve’s bestest and greatest ally, sweet cinnamon roll, important
- Cricket, the sassiest logika I ever did see
- Grandpa, sage old wise-ass
- Kaiser, who’s a good puppy!?
- Ezekiel, capital T TROUBLE and the trigger for all their woes (OR IS HE?!)
Over the course of the book, Kristoff raises many questions, and I dearly hope he answers them in the next book. The core question of Lifel1k3 is one that Asimov first raised when he outlined the three laws of Robotics:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Are robotics and by extension, Artificial Intelligence, ethical? Many a science fiction writer has played with the ramifications of these laws, and how they might play out should robots gain true intelligence. In Lifel1k3, Kristoff takes us through another interesting interrogation of the ethical dilemma of those who would create robotic life. Under all the fluff and flair, buried beneath the frantic energy and bubble-gumption is a story with an interesting ethical quandary in the center. What does it mean to be alive?
Lifel1k3 hit shelves today in the US and is available now from all your favorite retailers.
Thank you to Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for my honest review.