Cover image of a red house and tree houses in a forest. Subtitle says "A real boy and his heart. No strings attached.” Author tagline is “New York Times Bestselling author of The House in the Cerulean Sea.” Text says "In the Lives of Puppets TJ Klune."

In the Lives of Puppets

IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

We’re awash in cynicism. We’re drowning in snark. You know what is missing? Goodness. Pure, unadulterated goodness. When I think of literary goodness, I think of Bishop Myriel, even though I never got all the way through LES MISERABLES, being defeated at Waterloo. And I think of one young author in particular who is bringing the sweetness and light these days: one TJ Klune. I saw him on an author panel at a virtual library conference and he even looks sweet. He has the kindest smile.

IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS (Tor/Macmillan) is Klune’s latest novel, out today, March 25, 2023.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Edelweiss Plus/Above the Treeline and Macmillan for sending this book to me for review consideration. All opinons are my own.

In this fantasy/sci-fi novel, human Victor “Vic” Lawson lives in a tree house with three robots, then Vic constructs a fourth, HAP, from a salvage pile. The new robot complicates everyone’s lives, in more ways than one, and they soon find themselves in need of another home. Here is the brilliance of this novel: being a “real boy” is not dependent on what parts you do or do not have. Does this strike you as relevant to the issues of today? Queer and/or trans identities anyone? What a genius spin on Pinocchio. Klune is fast becoming the author of the Found Family.

In this novel, you decide your identity. Your found family can be assembled out of anything you can find that has a consciousness; your home is where you are all together; and love, and keeping your family safe, is what matters. The nurse robot has to be the most hilarious AI creation since ART in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. I died laughing over the nurse robot’s switches in and out of “Empathy Protocol.”

This book is just precious, honestly, a pure delight to read, and very original, just like THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA and UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR. I would enthusiastically read anything Klune writes.

Reading context:

If you love Klune’s work, I highly recommend the Monk & Robot books by Becky Chambers. Also a spark of hope in an increasingly dim world.

More book sweetness and light if you’re starving for it: Willa Cather‘s DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP (1927) and DOOMSDAY BOOK (1992) by Connie Willis (also referenced in this blog).

It occurs to me that everything recent in this blog comes from Tor and Macmillan. This is only because this kind of book is the kind of book Tor publishes. I didn’t get anything but free eARCs from Tor! I’m not a Tor shill, just a Tor fan.

#scifi #fantasy #humor #InTheLivesOfPuppets #TJKlune #LGBTQ #FoundFamily #ConnieWillis #DoomsdayBook #LesMiserables #WillaCather #DeathComesForTheArchbishop #DoomsdayBook #TheMurderbotDiaries #MonkAndRobot #BeckyChambers