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In the Lives of Puppets - Review

In the Lives of Puppets ♦ T.J. Klune | Review

An Unexpected Journey Beyond My Comfort Zone

T.J. Klune’s In the Lives of Puppets took me on an unexpected literary journey. This book was quite a change from my regular reading habits as someone whose comfort zone rarely stretches into the worlds of science fiction and robots.

In the Lives of PuppetsIn the Lives of Puppets by T.J. Klune
Published: 1. April 2023
Publisher: TORDOTCOM
Pages: 420
Genre: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction
Audience: Adult
Shelve: Read 2023
Link to Goodreads

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?

Author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

Buy the Book: Amazon*

In the Lives of Puppets ♦ T.J. Klune


The story takes place in a world where puppets (robots in this case) come to life and the barriers between truth and fantasy blur. T.J. Klune creates a unique tapestry of characters and events, demonstrating his narrative ability. The author’s imagination shines through, and the plot is complicated, with surprising twists and turns that kept me guessing throughout.

While I like the author’s imagination and the story’s depth, I must admit that the science fiction components and the presence of robots were difficult for me to connect with. It’s not a critique of the book; rather, it’s a personal choice that these genres fall outside my regular reading range. I might not have picked it up on my own if it hadn’t been in a book-box.

Despite my worries, I thought the characters and their connections to be charming and emotional. Klune’s writing style is approachable, and he injects comedy into the tale, making the overall experience more entertaining.



In the Lives of Puppets is an undeniably well-crafted tale for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and the unexpected. While it may not have totally won me over owing to my genre choices, I can recognize its virtues and recommend it to those who are more at ease with the worlds of robots and artificial intelligence.

About T.J. Klune

T.J. Klune

T.J. Klune is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it's important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

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