Thursday, April 27, 2023

Mini-Review: In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune


In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
Tor Books
Publication Date: April 25th, 2023
Hardcover. 432 pages.

About In the Lives of Puppets:

"In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots--fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They're a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled "HAP," he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio's former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic's assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?"

In the Lives of Puppets is TJ Klune's latest heartwarming release and is sure to be a new favorite for many people. It's loosely inspired by Pinocchio and follows a cast of rather unconventional characters as they embark on a quest to save one of their own in a fascinating future world. 

What I liked: I don't tend to see a lot of stories inspired by Pinocchio, so I really enjoyed seeing how Klune took some general framework and bones from the original story and molded it into something new and exciting. I would advise you not to go into this thinking it's a Pinocchio retelling because it really isn't, but I still enjoyed the small references and ideas placed into this story, as well as references to many other works of literature (I know I saw a little Wizard of Oz in there, and we can't forget about Nurse Ratchet!). I liked learning about this future world and how it developed to the point it is now where Victor is the only actual human around. I also really liked getting to know this eccentric cast of characters and how they made up such a wholly odd and yet perfect family. It was fun to be back in a world full of warm and loving characters and I enjoyed seeing the different adventures they got into. 

What I didn't like: Unfortunately, In the Lives of Puppets did not end up working for me as I'd hoped it would and I found myself really struggling to connect with much of the story. One area that almost became annoying to me was a lot of the dialogue as it often felt overdone, cliche, and a little boring, as well as the fact that there often just seemed to be too much of it. I found many of the jokes and banter–especially between Rambo and Nurse Ratchet–entirely unamusing and simply not to my personal taste, which often left me feeling sightly annoyed and bored because it didn't feel like it added much to the story. I also felt that the plot itself was exceptionally thin in this book and I couldn't really bring myself to care that much about it or the characters. I loved the coziness of The House in the Cerulean Sea and even Under the Whispering Door, but for some reason in this book it just felt forced and almost overly soapbox-y at times–and also maybe a bit too wholesome, if that makes sense. I'm not sure exactly what it was about this book, but it just ended up feeling a bit flat for me overall. 

Overall, I've given In the Lives of Puppets 2.75 stars. I'm sure plenty of people will love this book, but it unfortunately just wasn't for me. 

*I received a copy of In the Lives of Puppets courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon |

1 comment:

  1. I have seen other reviews that are similar to yours. I probably wouldn't pick this up based on them, but I definitely need to try this author!