Synopsis: 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. (Amazon)
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction / YA
Rating: 4 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
Find me a book inspired by a historical event that intrigues me, and I will devour it. Better yet, let this fact be a mystery that I don't solve until after I've been reading for a while, and it will be an even bigger treasure to come across. Enter, LIFEL1K3.
I've heard and seen content about this novel since its release in 2018, and yet I had no idea that this book bases some of its plot on the assassination of Nicholas II, Emperor of All Russia, and his family. Like many people, I have been fascinated by Anastasia Romanov(a) for years, but it's not often that I read a work of fiction that takes content from her life or the tragedy that befell her family. Not only is it neatly weaved into the rest of the storyline, but it jump-starts an exciting and fast-paced ride for the reader.
LIFEL1K3 isn't a good book merely due to originality. There were parts of it that reminded me a lot of Marissa Meyer's Cinder (not just in personality of Ana/Eve vs. Cinder, but as far as their knowledge on machines goes, how to work them, and robotic side-kicks). However, LIFEL1K3 has a voice of its own. It has its own vocabulary, its own identity, and there's a ruggedness to the atmosphere of the story that makes it even more believable when one takes into account the world in which these characters live.
The characters themselves are, for the most part, well shaped. Cricket is a hoot, as most little robot allies in these books tend to be. And while Eve/Ana takes the lead, I absolutely loved Lemon Fresh and I am greatly looking forward to seeing how she deals with her struggle to not just figure out who she is, but how to cope with her abilities. I liked Ezekiel, but he fell a little flat for me, and I was never able to commit to his romance with the lead—then again, there's a good reason for this revealed in the end, so if the lack of full-on chemistry is taken as something purposefully created then it is very well done.
At the heart of the story are Gabriel, Faith and Mercy, the lifelikes turned enemies that were initially created by Ana's father in the perfect image of man. Not quite human, not all machine, struggling to have their own sense of self and ultimately take over humanity. I'm a sucker for this type of story, where a group of cyborgs fight against humans so that they may become free, and in return unleash their revenge. I know that we're “supposed” to root for the humans, but I always feel that the “bad guys” are justified after the way that they're treated. That belief not only stuck in LIFEL1K3, but it was cemented. Kristoff does a great job in making you feel for a being that is designed to be, essentially, used by humans while their individuality is supposed to be discarded. You feel the injustice, and you want retribution for it.
If anything, the thing that grated on me was Ana/Eve's reaction to the revelation of who she is at the end. As Myriad stated, a secret as big as this one, once revealed, had the potential to make her go insane in her attempt to process it. But she didn't go insane. Rather, she turned against those that she was supposed to have loved all this time, so fast and with so little thought, that it left me baffled. On one hand, I understand her need to distance herself due to the hurt that she felt, but on the other hand, it came across as rash. It'll make for a good follow up in the second book, I'm sure (and hope), yet the rush to get there was abrupt.
Full of nonstop action, and with plenty of twists and turns, I hope the excitement holds in DEV1AT3.