I was so excited when NetGalley sent me an ARC of In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune. I have enjoyed everything I have read by TJ Klune, and was eager to read this.
I know I mention this in many of my reviews, but discussing this novel without giving away too much of the plot is a challenge. I don’t want to spoil it for y’all!
[Pausing to go read the official book description.]
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; They reveal almost everything in the blurb, which is why I usually avoid reading them. I guess that means I can continue without worrying about spoilers, as I won’t mention anything they haven’t already spoiled.
Our protagonist, Victor, lives in a world filled with robots. Some are humanoid, while others, like Rambo, are not—Rambo is obvi a modified Roomba. It’s very Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall•E. Pinocchio’s influence is also evident, especially given the epigraphs.
I absolutely love the world this story is set in—the freaky robots-rule-the-world-post-apocalypse future that we’ve all been afraid of since learning about Skynet from The Terminator. I wish there were more about how this world came to be, the (other) robots, and the City of Electric Dreams (which must be Las Vegas, right?).
Who would have imagined a sarcastic semi-psychotic nurse robot (Registered Automaton To Care, Heal, Educate and Drill—Nurse Ratched for short) and a dim-witted but loyal and loving Roomba as the ultimate family and adventure companions? Each character has unique quirks and personalities, drawing us into their world.
As we delve into Victor’s life amid a world of robots, we’re forced to reconsider our understanding of what it means to be human and reflect on the potential for artificial intelligence to experience genuine emotions and self-awareness. Can a robot truly experience emotions? Possess free will and its own unique desires? What does having a heart mean for a machine?
In conclusion, In the Lives of Puppets masterfully balances this introspection with humor, adventure, and the occasional heartstring tug, making it an engaging and thought-provoking read. This novel is a must-read for fans of TJ Klune and anyone who enjoys a unique, thought-provoking, and entertaining story. And after finishing it, you’ll be crossing your fingers and hoping for more featuring these characters and their world, just like me.
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own.