Lifel1k3 – review

“She refused to flinch. To turn away. She’d met death before, after all. Spat right in its face.”

In a future world, bleak from environmental destruction, Evie Carpenter just wants to find her place.

Fighting malfunctioning robots in the Wardome may not be the most glamorous way to get credits, but Evie doesn’t have a lot of options and grandpa needs his meds. When she risks everything in an impossible match, the unexpected happens. Not the good kind of unexpected. In a moment of fear, she just discovered she can destroy electronics with her mind, setting the puritanical Brotherhood after her.

But it isn’t until she discovers an android boy, nearly wrecked and beyond salvage, that her life comes crashing down in spectacular form. Enemies she never knew she had start coming after her, forcing her to run with the android, her bestest Lemon Fresh, and her robot conscious Cricket, in tow. They’ll push themselves searching for answers to secrets long ago buried while desperately trying to rescue the ones Evie loves.

The thing about secrets though, is they’re usually buried for a reason.

“Eve stood mute. Anger fighting confusion. There was truth in Hope’s words. Bloodstained. Twisted. But still truth.”

Once again, I am blown away by Jay Kristoff and his writing! He’s built a world that is detailed and captivating, filled with characters you can’t help but fall in love with. In true Kristoff fashion, he has wooed me, completely, entirely. I’m not even a little bit surprised that he then ripped my bleeding heart out of my chest. Or that he probably laughed maniacally all the while.

While this does have a similar feel to Illuminae, readers should know that this book is tragic. It says in the description. “Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-Men with a little bit of Blade Runner cheering from the sidelines.” If you’re expecting sunshine and daisies, you’re not paying attention. This book is tragic. Tragic topped with tragic, with a heavy side of tragic just for good measure. And me? I’m a SUCKER for tragic. I live for it!

“She closed her eyes. took a deep, shuddering breath. And she grasped her sorrow by the throat and set it aflame with her rage.”

Kristoff has a way of writing that is both lyrical and brutal. He repeats key phrases and descriptions, which makes the novel feel poetic. The repetition emphasizes the emotions of the characters and lets the readers relive the beauty of the prose. Even beyond the repetitions, Kristoff has a way of writing even the most brutal scenes, making them bold and beautiful.

“Spent shell casings spewed like falling stars from her guns, smoke rising from the barrels.”

I will always love a dystopian that creates it’s own slang or language, and Lifel1k3 is no disappointment in that arena. However, rather than leaving the slang in the dialogue, Kristoff uses it throughout the narration. The effect is that the reader is fully immersed in this world, entirely throughout every page. Between the consistency of language, to the repetition, to the lyrical way he writes, it’s impossible not to be hypnotized while reading. True cert’, you’ll be picking up the language and feeling fizzy before you even realize, that’s how fast his writing sucks you in.

And these characters! Lemon Fresh is the bestest of the bestest! I love her so much it’s ridiculous. And Cricket!!! That feisty robot is the best conscious a girl can have. They are both loyal to Eve in ways that makes your heart burst. Even black ones like mine. I adore when side characters are just as important and lovable as main characters, and both Lemon and Cricket are for sure the heart of this story.

“Cricket always wanted to be a WarDome bot,” she explained to Ezekiel. “The thought of lighting things on fire does unhealthy things to him.”

But we can’t have a Romeo and Juliet reference without some romance. And is there romance. Forbidden, passionate, soul consuming romance. For someone who can write such brutal scenes filled with endless bounds of death and destruction, Kristoff can sure write some steamy romance. Since this is YA, there aren’t the Nevernight-esque boudoir scenes, but the emotion packed into this love story will pierce straight to your inner romantic.

Did I mention there’s a cliffhanger? No? Well, there is. And, if you’ve read Godsgrave, you know how brutal those can be. Get ready for the gut punch of an ending. It’s worth it. It’s worth every tear, every intense moment, every heartbreaking page. I need the next book, in my hands, like, last night.

I went into this expecting to love it, as I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Kristoff so far. And Lifel1k3 did not disappoint me at all. It isn’t quite as brutal as Nevernight, but Lifel1k3 is not your fluffy YA romance either. It’s gritty. It’s tough. It’s tender as first love, and just as volatile.

Thank you AA Knopf for Young Readers and Netgalley for approving my request to review!

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