Title: In the Lives of Puppets (April 25, 2023)
Author: T.J. Klune
I wish I could embrace this book with as much warmth and kindness as T.J. Klune imbues into his writing, but I felt that this book missed the mark much more than Klune’s previous two novels, unfortunately. Apart from one compelling twist, the emotional beats of this tale fell flat for me, as Klune’s trademark sentimentality feels empty when paired with an uninspired story.
The book itself is a Pinocchio retelling at its core, but it also reminded me of so many other works of fiction that it struggled to stand out on its own merits. If you threw together Pinocchio, Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries, Becky Chambers’ The Monk and Robot series, the setting of Fallout: New Vegas, the droids of Star Wars, the characters of The Brave Little Toaster, and the quest of The Wizard of Oz into a pot, you might have a stew that kinda sorta resembles In the Lives of Puppets. I just don’t think it tastes very good.
If you loved Klune’s previous work you’ll probably feel right at home with this book, but to me, a recovering cynic (who was still very much charmed by The House in the Cerulean Sea!), I think your reading time will be better spent elsewhere.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.