In The Lives of Puppets is the first book I’ve read by TJ Klune, which is probably a little shocking considering the buzz generated by his previous books, particularly The House On the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door. I’m going to remedy that going forward, as I absolutely loved this novel.
What exactly is In The Lives of Puppets about? Glad you asked! In broad strokes, it’s about a human boy, Vic, who lives in a remote forest in a collection of eccentric treehouses with three robots—a nurse machine whose words are sharper than the drill she’s aching to use; a vacuum machine who is seeking love and acceptance with alarming enthusiasm; and an inventor android who is a father figure for Vic. This group spends their time living, inventing, and scavenging useful things, including another robot, from a massive, mysterious salvage yard. Then the robot overlords who rule the land discover their secret existence, sending them on a perilous journey of survival and discovery.
Did I mention In The Lives of Puppets is an imaginative, heartfelt reimagining of Pinocchio, with a little bit of Wall-E thrown in for good measure?
If that’s all the story was, it would be an excellent read. However, it’s in the small strokes, the fine details, that In The Lives of Puppets truly sings. It’s about the importance of found family, and the power of loyalty and love. It’s a tender, sensitive exploration of Ace and LGBTQ representation. Perhaps most surprisingly to me, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. The robots, particularly the nurse machine, are hilariously sarcastic.
Klune is a wonderful writer—evocative and playful, yet with a surprising edge. In The Lives of Puppets tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me forward on waves of emotion and excitement. I was happy to be along for the ride every step of the way.