Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: LIFEL1K3, #1
Page Count: 398
Publisher: Knopf Books
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Young adult, Science fiction, Dystopia
Eve’s life hasn’t been the same since her entire family was murdered in front of her. Though she doesn’t remember much about her old life, that final day still haunts her nightmares. That was two years ago. Now, she lives on an island junkyard with her grandpa, her robo-dog Kaiser, her robotic sidekick Cricket, and her best friend Lemon. Eve spends her days building robot gladiators — the only way she can make a small amount of money to buy her grandpa’s meds. But at her last match, after her gladiator is completely destroyed, she does the unimaginable: she fries her robo-opponent with her mind. Now she’s got no bot to fight, no money to buy meds, and the Brotherhood out for blood thanks to her newfound ability. As if that wasn’t enough, she discovers Ezekiel, a “Lifelike” android who calls her by a different name, acts as if he knows her. Eve’s life is once again turned upside down, and now she’s unsure of her past, present, and future all at once.
I shouldn’t be surprised, at this point, when a Jay Kristoff novel ruins my life. How this man can make me simultaneously angry, sad, and overjoyed all at once is a mystery. I’ve panicked my way through The Illuminae Files, screamed while devouring The Nevernight Chronicle, and eagerly await the conclusion to The Aurora Cycle series. Now, I’m tumbling through the LIFEL1K3 series and am not 100% sure how I feel upon finishing book 1.
LIFEL1K3 is told in third-person POV and follows Eve on a very dangerous, quest to save her grandpa, all the while struggling to remember her past. Occasionally the POV will switch to other characters temporarily, most notably Lemon, Eve’s “bestest.” Along with the Lifelike Ezekiel and Eve’s two robo-companions, the ragtag group makes their way across the now-ruined US. First the San Andreas destroyed the land, then a war followed by bombs. Large parts of the country are now irradiated and inhabitable by humans; everywhere else just as dangerous, though for different reasons. Though I’ve never played the game Fallout, I’ve watched my fiancé play for countless hours and that’s how this world feels to me. Big Fallout vibes.
Kristoff is a master worldbuilder, storyteller, character creator, and dialogue maker. I know, that’s very high praise coming from me, but it’s true. If you haven’t read a Kristoff novel yet, you’re missing out. The moment you start reading, you get sucked in to the world and it’s impossible to crawl out until you’ve finished the entire book. I was hesitant going into LIFEL1K3 because I didn’t think it sounded like my kind of story. I was unsure about the world, the characters, the plot as a whole. But as soon as I started, I couldn’t stop reading. I finished this book in less than 24 hours and it is so worth it. I immediately fell in love with the characters Eve and Lemon, Zeke, even the robots! I don’t know about you guys, but if I live to see a future where we’ve all got thinking and feeling robots in our lives, I’m going to be the kind of person who loves and cares for them. I felt so protective of Kaiser and Cricket, and I literally said very early on “if anything happens to these robots I am going to stop reading this series.” I won’t tell you if they are safe after book 1 of if they died and I broke my self-promise. You’ll just have to find out for yourselves. But I hope you, too, are the kind of person who would cry over a robot dog and/or a feisty little robot named Cricket.
The story is extremely fast-paced and will keep you guessing until the end. Kristoff knows how to write twists and turns. Sometimes I can call it a little before the reveal, but mostly I’m just sucker punched with shock. The final big reveal, and the few pages that followed until the end of the book, had me SHOOK. And mad. Very mad. I am so fired up and ready to start book 2. This book had me feeling so many feels, and I’m about to go take a relaxing bath to de-stress and calm my nerves. If a book can make you feel all these things, you know it’s a good book. And you know a good writer is behind it all.
I hope this review doesn’t come across as “I’m just a huge fangirl and I’ll say whatever I can to make you read this book.” I mean, I AM a huge fangirl, and I DO want you to read this book, but I’m also being totally honest. I may be blinded by my love for Kristoff’s works, but that’s okay with me. I love that I can sit down and get lost these worlds for a day. I’m excited to continue on with the series. I’m confident I’ll love the next two books. I just hope Kristoff gives me a happy ending. Please? I deserve it. If you’ve read this book and were also enraged by the ending, let me know! I’d love to vent/cry/scream with someone!
–In between the pages, I’m an emperor. An adventurer. A warrior and a wanderer. In between the pages I’m not myself—and more myself than in any other place on earth.
–“I hold him as if all the world were a storm and I’m sinking, drowning, and it’s only him keeping me alive.”
–“It’s simple to love someone on the days that are easy. But you find out what your love is made of on the days that are hard.”
–“It was okay to be afraid. You just couldn’t let that fear stop you.”