“In the Lives of Puppets” by TJ Klune | Book Review

The boy – Victor Lawson, son of Giovanni Lawson – said. “You.” He pointed toward the bigger stick figure. “Me.” The smaller stick figure.

“Yes,” Giovanni said quietly. “You and me. Always.”

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

LENGTH: 420 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 25 April 2023


In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots—fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio–a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

My Review

In an old and lonely forest, far away from almost everything, sat a curious dwelling.

This book. This book. This right here was the reason that I finally decided to read The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s because the premise of In the Lives of Puppets seemed so amazing and intriguing, and right up my alley.

I read some very well written and thoughtful reviews a couple of weeks ago, in my anticipation to read this novel. And they were a bit lower, which made me nervous, but I resolved to be undeterred. Especially after I read The House in the Cerulean Sea.

And I’m glad I did. Because this book was wonderful.

“How does one arrive at the decision to kill God?” It’s easier than you might expect.”

Sure, this book had its flaws, as all of them do. But it took absolutely nothing away from my enjoyment while reading. In the Lives of Puppets is a tale both sad and beautiful, and it almost made me cry. And books that are able to do that to me – to make me feel things that much – are almost always guaranteed to get at least four stars. And this novel was better yet.

The characters are the glue that holds this book together. 21 year-old Victor “Vic” Lawson was probably the most cookie cutter of all of them – and gave me some serious Disney princess vibes at times – but he was still very realistic and relatable, and he felt so, so human.

Giovanni Lawson was a wonderfully complex man that brought our lovely cast of characters together. At times, he felt even more human to read about than Vic, which is quite a feat for an android. I loved he and Vic’s father-son bond, and how it was always the driving force of the novel. So many books are quick to forget the loved ones of the protagonist, and I’m so happy to have found another one that is not that kind of story.

“Fine,” she said with a rude beep. “I would consider feeling slightly despondent at your forced absence, and then do everything in my power to ensure you returned with most – if not all – of your limbs intact.”

“Why?” Vic asked.

“You know why,” Nurse Ratched said.

“Because I’m yours,” he said. “Like you’re mine.”

Nurse Ratched was, hands down, the absolute best character from the book. Rude, sassy, and borderline sociopathic, she was perhaps the most human of the entire cast. Both a great source of the comic relief, as well as a fierce Mother Hen. And you’d do your best not to harm her chicks.

Rambo the Roomba was a hilarious and wholesome addition to the group. While not as apparently useful as the rest of the characters, he brought levity and hope to the scenes that needed it most.

Hap was probably the character I enjoyed the least, despite him being the inciting incident. But I still liked him, and his banter with the other main characters was something that I really grew to love as the novel continued. He made a fine addition to the group.

I liked a lot of the other characters too. I also really liked all the Pinocchio references and quotes that I caught though, as well as the Wall-E vibes throughout. There were also other references and things that flew over my head, as Klune was clearly inspired by a lot. That, and I’ve never read Pinocchio and it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any adaptations.

The plot itself was also extremely wholesome and engaging. I found it difficult to put down, honestly. There was never really a dull moment here, and I also really enjoyed the world building.

Now, let me be clear, before I finish off this review: there were a couple of things I didn’t like. But they were very, very small things – almost negligible – and mostly had to do with Klune’s style. Stuff like saying Victor’s or Giovanni’s full names several different times throughout the text.

“There is nothing more powerful than a heart. I wish I knew what it’s like. It appears to be more transformative than I ever thought possible. Hold on to it, the pair of you. Never forget what beats in your chest. It will be your guide, and with a little luck, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

So yeah. In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is an amazing story. Any fan of Klune’s other stuff should definitely read it, as I think it’s his best yet (out of the two books of his I’ve read). I also think that fans of sci-fi and fantasy that like good prose and humor will really like it too.

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My review of The House in the Cerulean Sea

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