LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018
Hardcover. 416 pages.
**There is a pre-order campaign for LIFEL1K3 pre-orders that is ongoing until May 29th where you can receive a print of the map in LIFEL1K3 as well as four character cards! You can find out more here.**LIFEL1K3 was a solid book, but it was also one of my biggest disappointments this year.
Everything about this book screams 'Jay Kristoff,' which is part of what made me so excited to read it. I expected a fascinating world, strong and unforgettable characters, a compelling plot, and a book that I would find impossible to put down. Instead, I got an overly predictable story, characters that I lost interest in, and a book that I found myself increasingly bored with.
Before getting into the details, I want to say that LIFEL1K3 is very much trademark Jay Kristoff and I could hear his voice throughout the entire story. The problem was that I felt like I'd read this book a hundred times before in many other books. It seemed like this book was more about the dialogue, the world, and the characters, with less emphasis placed on the plot itself, and this is where I had issues.
The world-building is fantastic and this is one area in which Kristoff shines. He not only builds an in-depth world with different locations and elements, but he also invents his own slang and manner of speaking that really brings it to life. I did have some issues with the slang in parts because I didn't always know what they were talking about, but idea and execution of it did help with the world-building. The only issue I had was that occasionally I felt confused and as if things weren't fully explained, but this wasn't something that lingered too long and was only minor. The Mad Max inspirations in his world-building really shine through in this world, though, so if you're a fan of that franchise you might want to pick up this book.
The characters in this book were really hit or miss for me. The main protagonist, Eve, irritated me more than I expected. I felt very little connection to her and that her reactions to various revelations and events were somewhat off. On a somewhat minor but still irritating note, she also made endless references to how 'she'd looked death in the face before and wasn't afraid to do it again' so. many. times. that I truly did not care anymore. I did, however, love Eve's cyborg dog Kaiser--Kristoff did great work on that. Lemon Fresh, her best friend, was one of the characters that I did really love. She seemed to have the most well-rounded and interesting personality of the bunch. She did feel slightly one-note at the beginning of the book, but as the story progressed I felt she more well-developed and I loved her personality. I also really loved Lemon and Eve's friendship and really enjoyed seeing their love for another shine throughout this book. Ezekiel, a character we meet fairly early in the story, was one of the least interesting characters for me. There was nothing interesting or endearing about him, and I think Cait at Paper Fury got it right when she likened him to her toaster. The last character I want to mention is Preacher, only to say that I still don't understand what his purpose was and all he seemed to be to me was a huge pain in the ass for no reason.
As mentioned, it was the plot that I really struggled with. The twists and turns were interesting, but also easily guess-able; it's a well thought-out story, but it just wasn't new enough. I feel like if you don't read a lot of books then you might enjoy this book a lot more than I did, but since I read a lot all the tie I just feel like I've read and seen this all before.
The writing, however, was great. Kristoff is wonderful at creating engaging and witty dialogue that lets you easily imagine the story in your head and feel like you are there with the characters. The descriptions of the world were strong and I appreciated Kristoff's accessible prose. The biggest complaint I have about his writing was that there was way too much action for my taste. I felt like the characters were constantly on the run or involved in some sort of action drama and I just got so tired of it and found myself desperately wanting to skim over large chunks of this book.
Despite my rather ambivalent review, I do still recommend you check this one out if you are a Kristoff fan or if you think the synopsis sounds good. There are so many other readers that have fallen head over heels for this book, so there's a good chance that you might still like it. People are even calling this some of Jay's best work, which I personally find a bit insulting to Nevernight, but that's just my personal opinion. Overall, I've given LIFEL1K3 three stars. I liked parts of it, but I just didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to and I look forward to reading more reviews from other readers to see what their thoughts were.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository
*I received an ARC of LIFEL1K3 courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*
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