Title: Truel1f3 (Lifel1k3 #3)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Published: July 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Trigger/Content warnings: violence, torture,
I received a copy of Truel1f3 from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
From the bestselling co-author of the Illuminae Files comes the thrilling conclusion to the award-winning LIFEL1K3 trilogy.
If you’re looking for a roller-coaster ride of YA sci-fi, don’t go past Jay Kristoff!
Truel1f3 is the concluding story to the Lifel1k3 trilogy that began in 2018, and has the dubious honour of following up from Kristoff’s previous sci-fi trilogy (The Illuminae Files in collaboration with Amie Kaufman) and initially, I was sure we would get something similar. Turns out, we got something very different – and that’s not a bad thing at all, but it did require me to switch up my thinking a bit.
This series is young adult science-fiction, set in a dystopian future United States of America (I presume). After years of war and bombings, the world is a very different place and different power factions have stepped up to fill the void left by governments. (There’s a handy map in the front of the book to help you get your bearings, as well as recaps on the characters and events that have taken place, too – which is fabulous!) We know that, prior to all this, humans had invested a lot into technology, particular robots, and that these bots have specific command principles – which changed when one man invented the Lifelikes – human-looking bots that could think for themselves.
What could possibly go wrong?
In Lifel1k3 we primarily followed the story of protagonist Eve, then in Dev1at3 the focus was primarily on Eve’s best friend, Lemon Fresh, and in the third and final book there’s a more even spread across all the different characters. (It is a multi-POV book series, though, and more on that later.) A lot has happened, and friendships and partnerships have been changed dramatically – characters have changed as their truths have come to light and everyone’s forced to confront their choices and their actions head on. There are overarching antagonists, but it’s really about how everyone has to make choices that are not always right.
What I appreciate most about Truel1f3 is how so much has shifted – friendships have broken, relationships have to be confronted and examined and the morality of making decisions on behalf of entire populations of people are questioned. Yes, it’s a fancy, flashy story with lots of action and robots and people with X-Men-like powers, but it’s also about how far you’d go to get what you want or what would you risk to save the people you love (and the people you’ve never even met)?
Of all the characters, Eve has the biggest character arc, and it’s difficult to talk about it with spoiling the books if you haven’t read them. But suffice to say she starts off in one place and we think we know her and over the course of three books she does become an entirely different character with a different set of motivations. Lemon Fresh also had a huge growth arc and became a very strong young woman, determined to save the world. Alongside those two, is a whole cast of additional characters – Cricket, Solomon, Ezekiel, Grimm, Diesel and Priest – who have their own stories and journeys that weave in and out with the two female protagonists.
I loved how Kristoff created such a bleak landscape – even without the maps, the world he’s created doesn’t feel like any place you’d like to visit. As you read, it feels bleak, barren and hostile and it adds to the mounting tension in scenes.
I did enjoy the conclusion, too. It’s nice when a series wraps up in three books because you can see those complete arcs and have the sense of satisfaction in knowing the end to the tale. Which isn’t to say there isn’t more to think about – there’s enough open-endedness built into the final pages to allow us, as the reader, to wonder what might come next for our characters and if they can rebuild the things that they’ve lost. I’m so glad I was able to complete this trilogy and follow the path of these characters.