“On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day—one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel—called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans—will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.”
He makes the list for a variety of reasons. One of which is his ability to write in various genres. He crosses between science fiction and fantasy with no problems, and every one of his novels is unique. Then there are his characters. I LOVE his characters. His female characters kick some major ass. They make Katniss look rather weak in both their determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Case in point, even though Lifel1k3 has a teenage heroine, there is a serious lack of angst. What mental torture Eve puts herself through is completely understandable given what secrets she uncovers. There is none of the hand-wringing or morality debates that tend to fill out many a young adult novel these days.
The other reason Mr. Kristoff has made it to my must-buy/read list is because his novels are so damn interesting. His stories are dark and twisted and full of surprises. I mean, a world that still glows with radiation is not for the faint of heart. It is especially impressive when you consider how few post-apocalyptic novels exist wherein the radiation has not yet decayed or where they actually live near the irradiated zone. Mr. Kristoff is not afraid to go where no one has gone before, and his novels are better for it.
Moreover, his world-building is among the best. He deftly weaves his world-building into dialogue and action rather than spending paragraph after paragraph describing it. In that regard, Mr. Kristoff operates under the “show them” mentality rather than the “tell them” one, and his stories are stronger for that. The tension builds faster, as does your empathy with his characters. In fact, you become immersed into his stories better than you would with pages of exposition.
The last thing I love about Mr. Kristoff’s novels, something Lifel1k3 confirms for me, is how genuine his characters sound. He might be writing about a young woman, but everything about Eve – from the way she dresses to the way she talks to her worries and emotions – feels real. Teenage girls are complicated creatures, with more emotional turmoil than is good for a human, so to capture their voices properly is quite the feat. It is almost like he was a teenage girl because he gets it.
I could continue to gush about Jay Kristoff and Lifel1k3 but I think it is obvious that there is nothing I did not like about his latest novel. I tore through it in a few hours and finished the novel shocked to my core with the direction he is taking the series. It is going to be a very long wait for the next novel, which means I have plenty of time to read his other novels and luxuriate in his stellar writing.