LIFEL1K3 (LIFEL1K3 #1) by Jay Kristoff

For real, that was less Romeo & Juliet meets The Terminator, as the blurb says, than it was Westworld meets the Russian Revolution (with heavy Tank Girl influences.) It was crazy, in the best possible way. I was genuinely intrigued by Jay Kristoff’s narrative choices throughout the book, and tho I didn’t necessarily like the ending, assuming this is the first book in a series, I’m okay with the general idea of having it end on an “oh fuck, that was bad, what happens next?” note. I just wish that Mr Kristoff had given us a Star War before an Empire Strikes Back, to ease us into it.

Anyway, seventeen year-old Eve Carpenter is eking out a living as a mech-gladiator in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, earning credsticks to buy medicine for her ailing grandfather, Silas. Her best friend is Lemon Fresh, a fifteen year-old orphan Silas took in off the streets. Her other loyal companions are a robot named Cricket and a blitzhund — mostly construct, inherently canine — named Kaiser. When the girls and their robots go to loot a plane crash in order to earn more credsticks, they find far more than they bargained for in the form of a handsome android whose appearance stirs up memories that will upend Eve’s entire life and identity.

This is a universe in which Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics apply… until the day they don’t. Mr Kristoff riffs effortlessly off of all sorts of cultural references as he builds a gonzo adventure which eschews the simpering prissiness of a lot of popular YA novels that feature female heroines. Eve and Lemon are ride or die loyal to one another, sharing a bond and a sense of humor that anyone with a bestest can relate to. The hot android is definitely a love interest but he doesn’t automatically become the center of Eve’s universe, which is super refreshing. And I’m still chewing over that ending! I did not see the twist coming at all, and I’m totally freaked out by what happened after, to the point where I’m not even sure if I’m mad about it. All I know is that I’m definitely reading the sequel, and I’m kinda hoping Lemon is acknowledged as the real heroine of the piece, because she is a rolling badass and my favorite (and because I definitely identify with her more than with Eve. Her “tell me honestly” question to Zeke made me crack up far more than I should have.)

And the language choices! Sumptuous, true cert’. Future slang can sometimes feel forced, especially when it’s teen slang, especially when it’s oft repeated as is the way of slang and teens, but this was really well done. If I had more time in my life, I’d look up more of Mr Kristoff’s work, because he is really good at this writing thing and I admire very much what he’s done here. When’s the sequel come out? I wants it. In the meantime, regardless of what I just said, I’ve bought a copy of The Illuminae Files THAT I WILL NEVER HAVE THE TIME TO READ OH WELL.

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  1. Thank you for this review! It’s just splendid.

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