(Goodreads summary here.)
I think I can now officially say that Jay Kristoff is one of my all-time favorite authors. Maybe it’s just because he writes my favorite genres, but I really just think his writing style is perfect for me. It’s clear and not too wordy, yet descriptive as hell, and he knows how to keep the action going. Also, his Instagram stories get me every time.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the actual book. Lifel1k3 is full of action and adventure, science and friendship, badassery and morality. It’s definitely not my favorite of Kristoff’s, but it was still really damn good. I really want to be able to give this 4 stars, but the truth is that I was a little unimpressed until about 75% way through the book, and I don’t think a book that took 300 pages for me to get into can get 4 stars from me.
Because of that, the last portion of this review will have major spoilers for the ending, so reader beware! I will let you know when they’re coming up.
I think I have to start with the world-building here. If there’s one thing I trust Kristoff to do, it’s build an epic world for his books. It was especially interesting to see how relatively well-researched the science portion of his science-fiction. I’m far from being an astrophysicist or nuclear scientist or robotics expert, but the science side of the book seemed completely plausible to me. As for the degradation post nuclear fallout, I do have enough environmental science knowledge to say I think that aspect is at least mostly scientifically accurate. Sure, it might not be Weir’s The Martian in terms of accuracy, but it’s pretty darn good. I find that solid science in science-fiction really makes a book or movie for me, and extra points if you make it understandable, which Kristoff definitely did.
I know a lot of people had problems with the use of slang throughout the book, but I didn’t mind it. I can see why some people think it was unnecessary, but I found it immersive. I guess I’m also just used to the fact that that’s just how Kristoff writes books (see: Nevernight). Again, I can totally understand why people don’t like it, I just didn’t mind it.
Onto the characters. I thought Eve was fine. I think she was a bit bland as a main character for most of the book. I think her character arc changed in the opposite way I wanted her to; if she had become harder, more distrusting throughout the book, I would’ve liked where she went more. She kind of gets there at the very end, but I think it took too long and happened too abruptly for me to really appreciate it. She just generally didn’t seem like the real main character? It felt like Eve’s story, but it was almost as if hers wasn’t the most compelling of all the storylines in the book.
As for interesting, compelling characters, I am officially on the Lemon Fresh bandwagon. I was really worried she wouldn’t live up to the hype around her, but I shouldn’t have been worried. She is just absolutely amazing. Her loyalty to Eve was so refreshing, and I want more friendships like these two everywhere. She just absolutely jumped off the page. She’s the one I absolutely want to see more of in Dev1at3, and I am so sure we will and I’m so pumped.
And Cricket. I am here for this funky little robot. I was so impressed how Kristoff made his robotic characters seem like real people, ones who you can root for, and Cricket is really the epitome of this. He may not be human, but he sure does have the heart of one. My only issue was personal, and that was only because I could only picture him as the little robot from Invader Zim (what a throwback).
Ezekiel was kind of bland and forgettable? Like, he was just kind of boring, which was annoying because he’s a robot! He should be awesome and cool and intriguing but instead he was just meh. Hopefully Dev1at3 will bring out a different, more complex and interesting side of him.
The biggest thing that frustrated me in this book was the instalove. I know Kristoff gives it a back story that makes it less instalove-y, but I thought it was kind of a cheap excuse. It makes sense and contributes to the story, which I appreciate, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I just don’t think there is a way to do it that I would like.
Okay, spoilers for the very ending incoming!
Ready? I was so shocked that this ended up being more like a prequel story for a villain. I know that sounds bizarre, since who wants a book not advertised as a prequel to be a prequel, but I think the answer is me. I was totally caught off guard at the way the book ended. I’ll be honest and say I called the twist that Eve/Ana is a lifelike, but it was done in a way that had me second guessing myself throughout the book, which are my favorite kind of plot twists. I was also really pleased that Eve/Ana didn’t just shrug off her lifelike and go on with her life. I like that she turned bad, I like that she changed! It’s the kind of character development I wanted to see earlier. This was really what salvaged the book for me and made it something I was actually interested in for itself, not just because it has Kristoff’s name on it.
Long story short, this wasn’t my favorite Kristoff novel, but, man, am I excited for Dev1at3, which I would not have expected when I first started it. The way his stories progress is always riveting, and the worlds he creates are really something else. My biggest complaints are probably rooted in the fact that Lifel1k3 is YA, while the Nevernight Chronicle, my favorite series by him, are adult fiction, and so they just generally read very differently. Lifel1k3 is still a killer sci-fi novel.
What authors constantly surprise you? What book hyped you up for the sequel way more than you anticipated it would?