Review: In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that can change everything when you least expect it.

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune


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?


Rating: 3 out of 5.

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved Nurse Ratched. The things that came out of her mouth, oh my god…hilarious.

The pacing and vibe of this book were all over the place. It started as a fairytale, then was slow and quiet, moved suddenly to ACTION OMG LITERAL FIRE, then was adventure and journeying that stopped and started, then was MORE ACTION ALL AT ONCE, then ended as a drawn-out fairytale.

The part after the climax was too long and wholly unsatisfactory. I’m not sure what point the author was trying to make here, and it overshadowed the rest of the book. There’s great growth in Hap up until the climax, so much thematic exploration, and I feel like the post-climax part just killed all of it. It basically did a start-over, starting something new that couldn’t be fully fleshed out and left me wanting in a big way.

Up until that point, at least, I really enjoyed the themes of creation, purpose, and choice. The writing and story kept me hooked, and the Pinocchio retelling was flipped well. I just wish the romance had more foundation and that the ending followed what came before, emotion-wise. It’s worth a read, but don’t expect the same experience as that of The House in the Cerulean Sea or Under the Whispering Door.

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