Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff was a heart-pounding, butt-kicking, robot-fighting post-apocalpytic thriller

Title: LIFEL1K3
Series: LIFEL1K3 #1
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller
Publication: May 29th 2018, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416 Pages, Paperback
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.
I haven't read a book written by just Jay Kristoff. I read (AND LOVED) Illuminae and Gemina (SO GOOD) which he co-wrote with Amie Kaufman. I've been dying to try reading one of his books, so when I saw he's new book about AI was coming out, I knew I had to read it. What did I think of it? You ask. Well, at first I nearly DNFed it, then I was highly impressed and now, two days after finishing and having had a chance to mull it all over, I can say that it was most-definitely a wild ride of a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

So, when I first started reading this, I thought I wasn't going to finish it. For me, it wasn't an easy book to get into. There was a LOT of slang and terminology from the world that wasn't explained and went waaay over my head. I flicked to the back of the book hoping there'd be a glossary detailing what the terms meant...but I was at a loss. We're also thrown headfirst into the story, which I sometimes like, but in this instance it left me feeling slightly disorientated. That being said, after the first fifty pages, I started finding my feet and being gripped by the story. And boy, the story gets going quickly after that. I felt like I was literally at the edge of my seat throughout the rest of the novel , the suspense thrumming through the pages. 

The three things that I loved most about this book and that made it such a riveting, gripping read was the world-building, the plot and the writing. LIFEL1K3 is set in a post-apocalyptic America that is something of a desolate wasteland. Radiation pierces the air, glass storms invade the areas, there are terrifying gangs and a bloodthirsty religious cult. There is artificial intelligence, robotic wars and the unquenchable desire to survive. The world-building was fantastic and really set the atmosphere of the shadowy, terrifying world Eve inhabited. 

The second thing was the plot and the concept of this book. Guys, there were so many plot twists. I was in suspense throughout this novel. There were moments where I wanted to look away because I feared for the characters's lives but wasn't able to, as it was so engrossing. The plot was thrilling and shocking. The biggest plot twist of all was the ending. I literally was like "WHAT?!" and tried seeing if there were any more pages in the book (sadly not). I totally wasn't expecting it, and I think it's a groundbreaking and pivotal change in Eve's development. It's a complete cliffhanger and kind of heartbreaking (thinking about it now is making me feel 54 EMOTIONS). I needed the sequel, like, yesterday. 

The concept was fascinating as well. Post-apocalyptic America. Gangs. Robots. Artificial intelligence. Running from a bounty hunter. Radiation causing strange abilities. Murderous artificial intelligence. I feel like this is a somewhat appropriate book for the 21st century. AI and robotics is something that is already beginning to take off, and this book offered a terrifying look at an all too possible reality. The robotic sidekicks were wonderful and sassy, but the other robots who were too lifelike and too bloodthirsty injected this book with a scary atmosphere.

The third thing that I loved was the writing. Although the characters' slang and vocabulary was confusing initially, I eventually grew accustomed to it, and it became a core part of the Kristoff's world-building. The thing I loved about the writing was how Jay Kristoff managed to write battle and action scenes with such graceful fluidity. I have read far too many books that have wooden action scenes that feel awkward and disjointed. This was not the case. The scenes flew into one another seamlessly and read like a movie. It was the kind of scenes that are nail-biting, heart-pounding and involve high-pitched squeaking. I felt like I was reading those scenes with baited breath, fearing for the outcome. I've realised with Jay Kristoff's books a character's safety is never certain, which makes the action scenes utterly terrifying. 

Besides writing action scenes with impressive dexterity, Jay Kristoff also wrote some beautiful quotes. I wish I had my own copy to annotate, as there were so many beautiful, heartfelt quotes. I also LOVED the way he writes dialogue. It was witty, biting and downright hilarious. Lemon, Eve's best friend, was full of one-liners that had me grinning. The dialogue felt realistic and flowed smoothly - another A+ for Mr. Kristoff there.

One of the things that prevented me from giving this book a higher rating was the characters and the romance. Characters I can connect to are essential to me LOVING a book. Although I liked the characters, I always felt remotely distant from them. Eve was an interesting, multidimensional character with a secretive, sad past. She was simultaneously soft and fierce. She was caring but a fighter. That being said, I didn't feel like I knew her. Given the circumstances surrounding her character, I think that might be the intent, but...I'm not sure. I couldn't quite connect to her. After that ending though, it's going to be very intriguing seeing in what direction Jay Kristoff takes her character next. 

There was also Ezekiel, a lifelike robot, who seems to recognise Eve from a past that she can't remember. Ezekiel, again, wasn't a character I could really connect to. He's very brave and I admire his devotion to Eve, but he just didn't feel authentic enough to me. 

That being said, I absolutely LOVED Lemon Fresh, Eve's best friend, and her robotic sidekicks, Kaiser and Cricket. Lemon Fresh was the most charismatic, hilarious and adorable character. She was so sassy and such a loyal friend, I loved her. Cricket was also the most hilarious little side kick and I absolutely loved him SO MUCH.

Then there was the romance which I just didn't connect to. It felt kind of artificial and distant. Again, given the circumstances, I can understand why I found it that way. I'm interested to see how the romantic sub-plots are developed in the sequel, if you've read this, you'll understand why. 

LIFEL1K3 didn't start with a bang, but it sure ended with one. It was a nail-biting, suspenseful, shocking and heartbreaking novel that was tinged with humour. An electrifying start to a post-apocalyptic technothriller series that I think is going to go in shocking directions. Pick it up and prepare to be mind-blown. 

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes

Violence, animal abuse, suicide, murder