Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Victor has never known anything but the protective forest where he lives with his father, Gio, and two robots, Rambo and Nurse Ratched. His home is a happy one and with his family he is content. Vic knows there is danger in the wider world, and at least in the forest he can tinker and create like Gio and do so in relative peace. But Vic has a human’s natural curiosity, which often leads him on risky visits to a nearby scrapyard. It is during one of these visits that he finds a decommissioned and lifeless robot, one whom he cannot resist bringing home. Vic gives the robot a wooden heart and, with it, the robot called Hap is given new life. 

As much as he loves his son, Gio knows that bringing Hap home will have unintended consequences, because Hap is so much more than Vic realizes. But he also knows everyone deserves a second chance. When the outside world invades their peaceful forest, Gio is kidnapped and Vic’s entire world is torn apart. Now, he must find his courage and along with Hap, Rambo, and Nurse Ratched, he will set out to rescue his father from terrible danger. Along the way, Vic will discover that being human can be messy and painful and that even when a family is broken, it can be rebuilt. 

So T.J. Klune is an auto-buy for me. He’s hands down my favorite author, but the blurb for In the Lives of Puppets was the first book of his to give me pause. Why? Because I hate the story of Pinocchio. It’s always been one of those stories that just creeped me out and for reasons I don’t even fully understand. In the Lives of Puppets is inspired by the original story of Pinocchio (not the Disney version) and from any other author that would have been enough to get a pass from me. But because Klune is so dependable as an author, I decided to give this one a go and I’m so very glad I did. 

As always with Klune, the heart and soul of In the Lives of Puppets are its characters. From a real boy struggling to find himself, a vacuum obsessed with the musical Top Hat, a delightfully sadistic nursing droid, and a Hysterically Angry Puppet, this novel is filled with the broken, the bonkers, and the reborn. They have become a family by choice and love one another without qualification or reservation. The novel is filled with Klune’s trademark wit, sarcasm, and some occasional cheekiness. But the depth of love these characters have for one another is truly memorable and there are moments that seesaw between hope and heartbreak and everything in between. The angst is scaled back here, but that doesn’t mean there are easy answers to every question. Instead, readers must accept what has happened, embrace what is, and find joy in what might be. 

With In the Lives of Puppets, T.J. Klune has produced a beautifully written novel with characters that resonate long after the book is over. The story is about love and family and what it means to be human and the tangled mess of it all. Whether you’re a long-time fan of Klune or new to his work, In the Lives of Puppets is absolutely worth your time. Consider this one highly recommended.