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Review: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff (Lifelike #1)

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff // VBCLIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1)
Jay Kristoff
Published: May 29, 2018 (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 5 stars

Once upon a time, there was a family: a father, a mother, three sisters, and a brother. But once upon a time only leads to happily ever after in fairy tales…and this is no fairy tale. This is a Jay Kristoff novel. So instead, we have Eve, and a world that is nothing but heat and radiation now. Eve lives with her grandfather, trying to earn enough for his medicine in Dome battles with machina. When she bets it all on a battle that goes sideways, AND discovers she has the power to destroy the machine—which will get her killed—Eve thinks her day has gotten as bad as it’s going to get. Then she finds the broken automata…and she learns that the road to hell truly is paved with good intentions.

I’m a huge fan of Jay Kristoff, and have been since his Lotus War series. So I was excited to read LIFEL1K3, the start of his new trilogy. And as expected, it starts out fast and just keeps going. One of my favorite aspects of his writing is his characters. He has a knack for creating people—characters who are human and flawed and beautiful and horrible, all at the same time.

Eve is seventeen, smart, sassy, and daring. She’ll do what it takes to get things done, though the outcome of her actions is not always what she might predict. She’s tough, but it hides a girl who has horrible nightmares that never go away. Her best friend Lemon is, in many ways, her opposite. She tends to be more the voice of reason, and to stick more to the shadows—but she has Eve’s back, just as Eve has hers. And then there is Ezekiel—a machine that seems human. And here is where Kristoff really nailed it. There’s a line between writing a human and writing a machine…and somewhere in the middle is where automata would be. Ezekiel is human enough to believe…until he’s not. Then he can be frightening, and powerful, and everything one could imagine a machine–a lifelike robot–should be.

As is often the case, the characters here are products of their environment—and this environment will quite literally kill you in minutes. Life functions at night, and cancer is what awaits you if you break that rule. This is the world after corporations had an all-out war, and all of humanity paid the price. Kalifornia is now the Dregs in the Grande Ol’ Yousay. Zona is out there somewhere…but in between are deserts of black glass, and the ocean is where no one ever dreamed it would be. Of course, the corporations still rule the world–each seeking an advantage over the other. This USA is similar enough for the differences to be stark, as well as a frightening reminder of what could await us if we are not careful.

Having said that, another thing to be careful of is your heart. Both your heart rate, and how easily it will be broken. Kristoff is a MASTER at emotional manipulationand hes so damn good, you will be begging for more. Even if you believe you have guarded your heart, or figured out what will happen, you will be wrong. On both counts. It is not uncommon for me to finish one of his books with a panicked expression (I would assume, based on my emotions) and a hearty, “WTF JUST HAPPENED?!?” LIFEL1K3 is no different.

However, what makes this story unique is the questions you will find yourself asking (other than that already mentioned): 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.

I absolutely recommend this book. Jay Kristoff is like the fair rides you enjoyed most as a kid—those that leave you with a stomachache and a spinning head, but which were SO MUCH FUN you rode them again and again and again. This is another ride you’ll need to hang tight to until the end, and then you’ll be back in line waiting for the next go-round.

Sexual content: none

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3 Responses to “Review: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff (Lifelike #1)”

  1. AmyM says:

    Great Review! I’ve been hearing a lot about this book. Your review makes me want to pick up this book sooner rather than later.

    • Beth C. says:

      Thanks! I’m half tempted to re-read it after reading my review, knowing there’s probably little pieces I missed the first time around!

  2. hillary says:

    I have heard many good things about this book.

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