Wolfsong by TJ Klune (Speculative Fiction / Romance)

This about-to-be-reissued book is a story about community, self-esteem, and personal growth carefully hidden within a big action story about Werewolves and a special human who manages to join the pack in a surprising way.

The story is interesting and the writing good (I absolutely loved Klune’s “In the Lives of Puppets” which was just released). Wolfsong could be simply summed up as a gay “Twilight,” with more emotional depth. It’s action and gay romance (with a capital R). At first I felt like it was more of a YA book, but about 80% of the way in began some seriously explicit homosexual sex scenes. More explicit than I really needed — frankly I would have liked a little warning! The book was also (for my taste), too long and quite repetitive. On the other hand, if you love action and enjoy a little gay romance / porn, this might be a great book for you!

I did actually love the stereotype busting world of he-men (mechanics, warriors, werewolves) who like to cuddle like puppies in a pack, love ferociously, and explore their feelings — sometimes out loud. I enjoyed the characters a lot — I just wish they had managed to figure out a few pretty obvious things a little earlier.

Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on July 4th, 2023

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune (Speculative Fiction)

Writing: 4/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 3.5/5
A small and definitely diverse family (consisting as it does of three robots and a small human) lives happily in a dense forrest finding discarded electronic treasures in the local (and wildly gigantic) scrap heap and refurbishing them. Two successful refurbishments are now part of the family: Rambo — the ultra-loquacious, ultra-needy, and anxiety plagued vacuum robot; and the truly twisted and psychopathic Nurse Ratched (Registered Automaton To Care, Heal, Educate and Drill) — possessed of a dry wit and an “Empathy Protocol” she engages to hysterical effect.

When they find a damaged (and very handsome) robot in the scrap and manage to bring him back to “life,” it unleashes the force of the Robot Authority — the same group that wiped out all humans because they were busily destroying each other and the Earth. A rescue mission into the City of Electric Dreams with the “help” of a wild cast of characters along the way and a gay, interspecies romance (if you count advanced robots as a species) round out the tale.

I liked the characters and the humor — laughed out loud many times. I really liked the ongoing philosophical discussions and thoughts — plenty of existential considerations and an exploration of what it means to human, sentient, and / or conscious. Guilt, forgiveness, grief, and joy and what it means to experience those emotions. A scrutiny of Morality in a wide gamut of situations. And lastly, what does it means for a species to evolve? I also loved the well-integrated cultural references, especially to one of my all time favorite movies (Top Hat — yes!). The adventure sequences went on a bit too long for my taste, though I admit they included some pretty creative beings and mechanisms and I’m not really into ANY adventure sequences, so …

Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 25th, 2023