Stars: 5 out of 5.
I rarely read fairy tale retellings, because I think that retellings are rather pointless. I’d rather read the original and decide for myself what the morale of the story was, instead of reading about what the reteller thinks the story was about. So I’m really glad that I didn’t know that this was a retelling of Pinocchio when I picked up the book, or I would never have given it a try. And I would have lost out on a wonderful story.
And honestly, you don’t have to know anything about the original Pinocchio book to enjoy this story. Yes, there are parallels, but In the Life of Puppets stands on its own two feet pretty well and doesn’t rely on knowledge of the original.
It’s a story of Victor Lawson, the only human in a world of robots. And of his quest to save his father. And him and his friends have some adventures along the way.
For a fairy tale this book has surprisingly a lot of heart. Because the characters, human and robot alike, are fully realized individuals with their own quirks and dreams. And their interactions are hilarious at times, and at times very touching and heartfelt. Nurse Ratched is my favorite character. Yay for sociopathic nurse robots with a heart of gold.
The world our group of misfits travels through is wonderous and terrible at the same time, like it should be in good fairy tales. And all of the characters grow and progress along the way, especially Victor, who has to come to terms with a lot of hard truths. Like the fact that his father was the engineer of the extinction of his whole race. Or that you can still love someone even if you can’t forgive them for what they did, even if you aren’t sure you have the right to forgive them.
Or that you can love someone even if they don’t remember you from time to time. This last one hit particularly close to home, since I am dealing with a relative slowly loosing his battle with Alzheimer’s. That is a truly horrible disease that transforms a loved one into a completely different person. A bit like what happened to Gio once he was taken back into the City of Electric Dreams.
And even though the situations our characters find themselves in are horrible at times, the overall message of this book is one of love and hope, which makes it a very heartwarming story. I would definitely recommend this to adults and young adults alike. It’s rare that I read a book in one sitting and come out of it with a content and warm feeling.
PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.