What happens when humanity destroys the world? When our species pushes the Earth to its breaking point. And all that’s left of a once lush, green and blue planet is now a wasteland. A wasteland of endless desert filled with irradiated glass and waste as far as the eye can see. A world where trash was once just thrown away and forgotten is now coveted and fought over by those who choose to survive. Where the oceans are stained black with a mirroring image reflecting in the sky. Hopeless. Desolate. Annihilation.
Welcome to the YouSAy!
NOTE TO READER
Before you read on, let’s go over a few important facts about this review. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. In the next two paragraphs there will be a brief recap of LIFEL1K3, the first novel in this series. It is HIGHLY recommended, before reading this review, that you read this AFTER reading LIFEL1K3 to avoid SPOILERS. Or you can still read it, just know there are spoilers.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. =)
Brief Recap of Book 1
LIFEL1K3 concentrates on the main character Eve—an almost perfect replica of a human teenage girl, Ana Monrovia (although, Eve doesn’t know this at first). Eve is trying to survive in a dying world as an adept mechanic, who controls robots in a fight to the death extravaganza called the WarDome.
During the first novel, we travel at a breakneck pace, across the map of the YouSAy with Eve and her companions. Eve is desperate to locate and save her grandfather from the lifelike’s who abducted him. Once Eve finally finds her grandfather there is a face-off between Eve and the robots holding him captive. And dear readers this was a battle of all battles. Fast paced. Action-packed. Gut wrenching. Heart pounding. Metal vs. Metal. Once we catch our breath, Kristoff brilliantly reveals who Eve truly is. Not a human girl, but rather, a replicant, or more specifically, a Lifelike: a specialized synthetic robot. Eve was only posing as a favored daughter for the sake of Nicholas Monrovia, director of the Gnosis Laboratories Megacorporation.
Back to the Review
As you can imagine Eve didn’t take the news very well (that’s putting it mildly). To find out in such a brutal way (three bullet holes to be exact) that her whole existence, her entire life was a lie was kind of a shock (again, putting it mildly). And as a result, we see the consequences played out in DEV1AT3.
In the very beginning of DEV1AT3 Eve makes a fundamental choice that will redefine who she is during the novel. Like her siblings, she embraces a more fanatic and narrow-minded philosophy: extermination of an incredibly flawed species, humanity. Oh, and killing Ana Monrovia.
Not all is lost. There are those who are still for saving humanity and stopping the crazies from destroying what’s left of the YouSAy. Albeit a chaotic home, it’s home nonetheless. Enter the trio Eve ditched for her Lifelike “siblings:” Lemon Fresh, Eve’s once bestest, Cricket, her former logika, companion and robotic conscience, and Ezekiel, Eve’s previous part-time lover and one-time friend.
Right off the bat, Lemon, Cricket, Ezekiel are feeling a bit dejected and a little worse for wear after the scuffle in Babel. They’re each trying to wrap their head around what just happened and what to do next. But as they navigate the desolate terrain from Babel, they are quickly separated.
Once on their own, each character begins a wild journey, both physical and emotional, towards a better understanding of who they are. Along with being separated, Lemon, Cricket, and Ezekiel will face difficult choices that have uncertain outcomes. But they make them in spite of the odds stacked against them, while using all the flare, sass, and spunk to be expected in a Kristoff novel.
Whereas in LIFEL1K3, Kristoff focuses on Eve (the lifelike), in DEV1AT3, he explores Lemon Fresh’s character in more depth. From the very beginning we see Lemon literally out of her element. She’s no longer the side-kick, providing the sarcasm, and sass with a capital S. She’s now solo. Making her own decisions, while still maintaining her tenacity and flair.
And throughout the novel, we’re constantly drawn to Lemon because of the incredibly tough choices she is forced to make. She is constantly pushed in so many directions that there’s very little time to register a well thought out plan or all the potential pit falls of her choices. Yet, in spite of this, time and time again, when Lemon is moving from one bad scenario to the next, she’s still able to do what’s right. With each passing chapter, Lemon begins to understand her place in the world. With the help of new friends, and a potential love interest (Grimm) she begins accepts who she is and those like her.
Cricket on the other hand is held captive by the Brotherhood, a band of zealot extremists. The Brotherhood just happens to need a bot to place them on the map in the ever growing, entertaining, gladiatorial Bot Fights.
Enter Cricket, stolen and sold to the Brotherhood as a fighter bot (his previous body was destroyed and his persona was grafted into a tank of a war machine). Similar to Lemon’s situation, Cricket is faced with daunting choices that lead him to question the fundamental origins of the Three Laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Law.
So long as these rules are in place, Cricket seems to be in constant conflict. Trying his best to do right, even when he’s told to do otherwise. And what Cricket wants most, as most rational beings do, is a more balanced treatment of robots and machines. Rather than being forced to follow strict, by the book laws that always puts humans above robotic existence. It is in his interactions with another logika, (a rather humorous and amusing robot) however, who changes everything. Cricket begins to evolve. He realizes, to his complete satisfaction, that those three laws can be bent.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel, (also known as Dimples and other names we won’t mention because it’s not nice) another lifelike , created by Gnosis Laboratories in the 100-Series, is trying to find Lemon Fresh and Cricket. But on his own, his search leads him to a trail that has gone cold. There are a million different places his friends could be and not a single bread crumb to indicate which way to go.
Eventually, he teams up with his archenemy from LIFEL1K3, the Preacher, a cybernetic enhanced bounty hunter. The two call a truce in order to gain what they both want: a clear path to Lemon Fresh and potentially Ana Monrovia. During their relentless pursuit, trouble seems to follow them like a bad penny. Ezekiel, like Lemon and Cricket, is also confronted with arduous choices. Making decisions which have unimagined consequences because of his naïve hope that people will change.
Without a doubt, DEV1AT3 is brilliantly written. It questions who we are as a species. What we are capable of, and ultimately, what it means to be human. Kristoff shows the depths of humanity in all of its beauty and ugliness, and every aspect in-between. The novel is similar in tone and world building as George Miller’s Mad Max and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner movies and fans of those films will thoroughly enjoy this book.
DEV1AT3 is an enthralling story where Kristoff shrewdly depicts a vividly bleak wilderness congested with plastic, metal, and endless grit. Each character is as memorable and tangible as the world Kristoff creates. Flooding our senses, our emotions, with prose that leaves us transfixed; suspended in the all-consuming desire of wanting to know what will happen next.
Is it 2020 yet?
Happy Reading ̴ Cece
RATING: – Exceptionally Inked
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June, 2019
Audience: Young Adult; ages 12 and up
Jacket Art: Daria Ren
Jacket Design: Ray Shappell & Erik Jansen