Series: Lifelike #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on 2018-05-29
Length: 398 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Amazon
Reading Challenges: COYER All Year 2020, COYER Quarantine Edition
From the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Illuminae Files comes the first book in a new series that's part Romeo and Juliet, part Terminator, and all adrenaline.
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.
It’s been a long time since a book left me utterly speechless, and y’all I’m not sure how coherent this review will be. Fantastic is so beneath how I would describe this book. It’s better than that. It’s the best I’ve read in what feels like forever. LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff is the first in his sci-fi dystopian thriller that I would describe as Mad Max meets iRobot. It takes what I remember loving about Mortal Engines and combines it with everything I love about the genre in one delightful, mind-blowing package.
If there is a main character in this story, it is Eve Carpenter. The book opens with Eve. She is fierce, loyal, and at times lethal. Surviving a bullet to the brain when the rest of her family was killed, Eve has a cybernetic implant that replaced her missing eye and also houses the memories her grandfather was able to piece back together. Most of her childhood memories are intact, but some aren’t, leaving Eve with missing pieces. Her nights are haunted by those missing pieces, her brain attempting to fill in the gaps of what happened to her and her family. Despite this, or maybe because of it, Eve spends her days building giant robots and fighting in the Wardome, a Coliseum-esque arena, to earn money for her grandfather’s meds. When a battle goes awry, Eve is left standing in the wreckage with no idea how she survived, but the results are life-changing.
Enter Ezekiel. Ezekiel is a lifelike, one of only 9 known created AI, and he knows Eve. He knows what happened to her, to her family, and what is happening to her now. He loved her once and claims to love her still. I don’t have a good read on Ezekiel. I wanted to trust him, but at the same time, I felt like I couldn’t. He intrigues Eve, and most definitely intrigued me.
In addition to these two, Eve’s best friend Lemon Fresh (yep that’s really her name) and Cricket also play a large role in the book. I personally love Cricket. He is a small AI, called a logika in the book. Fiercely loyal to Eve, he will do anything to protect her, even if he is only about 2 feet high. Lemon is great. She brings levity to an otherwise dark story. Like Cricket, she is loyal to Eve. She will follow her anywhere and spend her life protecting her. But it becomes clear really quickly that she is hiding a secret.
The world-building is unlike any I’ve ever read. Kristoff immerses the reader in Eve’s dying world. New slang, way-advanced tech, and yet it feels like it’s happening now. I loved the imagery. I could feel the heat, smell the rot, and the cool touch of metal. Seriously fantastic!
Overall, I couldn’t read this one fast enough. I love Kristoff’s other work, but this may just be my favorite. Addressing the age old question of “Just because we can, does it mean we should?” LIFEL1K3 puts robotics and playing God at the forefront. And that ending….don’t even get me started. It’s been such a longtime since a book truly surprised me and left me reeling. But this one succeeded in doing just that. I’m still in shock! If you enjoy sci-fi dystopias, I highly recommend you grab a copy ASAP.