LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble–she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day–one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel–called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans–will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.
ARC provided by Random House Children’s via Netgalley for an honest review.
This was an amazing story that was a very different take on the robot rebellion stories that have come before. I loved the undertones of Pinocchio and the Romanov family and the missing princess Anastasia. There is a lot of stuff happening in this story and I will probably have to read it many times to catch it all, but I don’t think I will ever find it boring.
Eve is a girl who at the start of the story is a strong and self assured young woman. But as events unfold and her past comes back to her, she really struggles with who she is and what exactly that means. She is complex, but also smart, and resourceful and can think quickly to get herself and her companions out of trouble. She is fierce and loyal and is never willing to leave anyone behind, even when she could die trying to save them.
Lemon Fresh, Eve’s bestie, is as refreshing as a summer breeze (Sorry, couldn’t resist). Seriously, I loved her name, loved her personality and would love to have her as a friend. She is sassy, strong and smart. She has the street smarts that has kept her alive to help them get out of their predicaments. She is also fiercely loyal and will do anything for Eve and her grandfather.
Ezekiel was an interesting take on an AI. He was created with the idea that most people would see him as human, and they do, on the surface anyways. He is totally devoted to Eve, and comes to like Lemon as well. He always goes along with Eve’s plan even when he knows it may not be the best choice. Even when he was being a bit sappy, I still really liked him.
Cricket is a logika, a machine with its own intellegence which allows it to act independently. Cricket is still controlled by the three laws of robots, but he can act without commands from Eve or any other human. Cricket is often the voice of reason, sometimes even Eve conscience, (hence the Pinocchio reference). He was a hoot also, being very sarcastic and getting upset when anyone called him little. I would just love to have him around as well, he would be protective and just all around fun.
This story takes place far into the future, when there have been a couple of more world wars which included nuclear bombs. The landscape and the cities have been completely changed, and life here is like nothing you could possibly imagine. I loved the city made up of beached tankers and other large sea vessels. Also their trek through the ocean inside a bioengineered creature was just genius. The wasteland full of a glass storm was a fascinating take on what would happen after a nuclear war. I also liked that there are three levels to the robots, from simple machines with no intelligence to the logika. There is also some humans that have been augmented and animals that are part robot as well. This world is richly imagined and laid out in such a way as to not overwhelm you with some of the horror of it as well.
The action and plot is fast paced and keeps you turning pages. From the opening sequence with the robot gladiators to the surprise twist at the end, it is heart stopping action through out. Speaking of that ending, Eve’s motivation for what she does, is not what I would have expected from her. Although she has gone through a lot in the two to three days that encompass this part of the story, I’m not entirely convinced she would have done what she does. Perhaps when I reread it (and I will definitely do that before the next book), it will be easier to see because I know how it ends.
A masterpiece of science fiction that will make you ponder the questions of free will, and creation and how far science can take us if we let it.