Book review: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff writes strong women really well and it is no different in his YA dystopian thriller LIFEL1K3.

She didn’t want to die here. She hadn’t liked it much the first time.

Seventeen year old Eve builds robotic gladiators to earn credits to buy medicine for her sick Grandpa, who is her last remaining family member. When her robot gladiator is destroyed in a fight and the opposition comes after her as well, she manages to stop the attack with the power of her mind and a raging scream. Unbeknownst to Eve, her powers of destruction have drawn the attention of the Brotherhood who decide to hunt her down and kill her because of this abnormality.

Look outside that door, and you will see a world built on metal backs. Held together by metal hands. And one day, those hands will close. And they will become fists.

On her way home with her gal-pal Lemon Fresh and her AI robot Cricket they discover the remains of an android boy in a scrap pile and take him home for parts. To her surprise the android boy, Ezekiel, comes to life and he recognises Eve and the those who are out to get her because of her powers. The motley crew of misfits, along with Kaiser, a fierce and protective robotic dog set off across their post-apocalyptic world to save Eve’s loved ones and discover the secrets of her past.

It’s simple to love someone on the days that are easy. But you find out what your love is made of on the days that are hard.

LIFEL1K3 is an action packed roller coaster ride through a world run by a couple of big corporations that use robots as slaves and leave everyone else to fend for themselves in the ruins of the Mad Max–like world. The story explores what happens when beings made with cybernetics and artificial intelligence become sentient and understand that they do not own their own minds, but want to.

Imagine having all your capacity for love and hate and joy and rage and only a couple of years to learn to handle all of it. Sometimes it feels like a flood inside my mind, and it’s all I can do not to drown.

In true Kristoff style, the story is full of twists and turns, a fast paced suspenseful action packed plot, incredible world building, great characterisation and humour, all used to tell a unique story about a girl finding her place in a world, not being defined by our past, and found family. Themes include exploration of corporate powers, resource depletion, AI and what makes us human (which reminded me of a mind bending subject I studied in philosophy at university), societal collapse, love and lies. And of course the story ends on a cliffhanger as there are two more books following it – DEV1AT3 and TRUEL1F3.

Your past doesn’t make calls on your future. It doesn’t matter who you were. Only who you are.