Book Review | Firstlife

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synopsis.

ONE CHOICE.
TWO REALMS.
NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…


my thoughts.

Firstlife is a unique book, built on a unique premise: what if your first life was just a prequel and your real life began after your death?

That’s enough to hook most people, right? The idea that just because your life ends once, doesn’t mean who you are disappears.

Firstlife is a book that held so much promise, but ultimately I felt that it feel far short of what I expected it to achieve. This is the first book in a series and it really felt like the first book in a series. The entire story is built around the story of Ten Lockwood choosing between the two realms she will enter upon her first death, and while there are definitely some interesting side-plots going on, it’s basically a story that sees a character weigh the pros and cons of a decision while people are trying to convince her to see their ‘side’ as the best.

There are plenty of trigger warnings in this book: Ten begins the story locked inside a prison because she’s refused to choose a realm - Troika or Myriad - and her parents need her to make a decision because their position of comfort and prestige in this life depend on her final choice, and because she refuses, she’s tortured in the hopes that she’ll choose ’the right one'. Each realm has its pros and cons and are, to each other, the light and the dark and bitter enemies.

Here’s where Showalter lost me - I couldn’t keep track of which realm was which, or the characters sent to guide Ten to her decision. I found it to be quite confusing and had to keep flipping back in the story to realign myself with what was going on. It’s not a short book either, and we’re constantly going back to the ‘chosen one’ trope where Ten is essential to both realms, and yet she refuses to make a decision.

There were a few things I did like - there is a lot of action in this book, from start to finish, without much down time in between. No character is safe (at any time) and awful things do happen, with quite a bit of detail thrown in by Showalter, and the premise.

I just wish the execution of the story had been a little tighter.

Overall, I gave Firstlife 2.5 out of 5 stars.

author // Gena Showalter
publisher // Harlequin Teen
genre // Young Adult, Science-Fiction
publication date // February, 2016
format // Paperback


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