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Book Review: The Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

Y'all, when I got the email notification that I was approved for an advanced reader copy of TJ Klune's latest, I SCREAMED! I adored The House on the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door. Klune is such a whimsy and fun author, so I dove right in!

One thing I noticed almost immediately was how much more rooted in science fiction this story was. The House on the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering door were a little more rooted in magic and fairytales. But, the story definitely had Klune's whimsicality.

The novel begins with an almost once upon a time feel, as Giovanni finds a place in the middle of nowhere and decides to make it his home. Some time later, after years of solitude, a couple appears in the forest outside of his home and give him their baby. Times are dangerous now, but they will return for the child.

Years pass, and Victor, once a babe, now a man grown, has spent his entire life with Gio, who is an android, Nurse Ratched, a robot meant to take care of human illness and injury, and Rambo, a tiny vacuum robot with so much heart. Victor knows that he's different. He's human, whereas the rest are machines. He never really questions his existence. He learns from Gio all about building and tinkering. Victor is the one who rescued Nurse Ratched and Rambo.

Not far from their home in the forest are Scrap Yards, where parts and pieces are disposed of outside of civilization. One day, while hunting through the yards, Victor comes across a presence in the piles. With the help of his friends, Victor uncovers a robot that still has some power, but then it fizzles out.

Victor, ever the inventor, wants to fix the robot up. This one is different. There's just something about him that Victor almost obsesses over. He fixes the robot, named Hap, and his father is quite surprised by the new addition to their household.

This is such a fun story about the beauty of life, of free will.

When 'smooth men' appear one day, Gio shoves his son and the rest down into a bunker none of them knew existed. That's when Victor learns the truth: there were never parents. Gio incubated him in the bunker, raised him to be his own child, and loved him like no other. Victor is the last human on earth. Gio sacrifices himself for his family, and Victor is determined to find his father.

This was a really well done novel, even if I felt like it lacked some of the whimsy from Klune's prior novels. If you enjoyed his other work, you'll probably enjoy this one!



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