The first thing I will adamantly shriek is: this book was a very epically unique read for me! It presented a detailed and complex world that felt a little bit sci-fi and a little bit paranormal. (I’m going to lean towards the paranormal, which is, like, my second favourite genre. WOOT.)
“WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT THEN, CAIT?????” you shriek, because who needs blurbs when you can have me eloquently and fabulously sum up the novel? (You’re welcome, by the way.)
THE BASIC GIST: You have multiple “layers” of lives* and most people treat the “firstlife” as a prequel…and the real things start when you join either Troika or Myriad (which kinda seem like Big Dubious Corporations) and enter their wars against each other. If you don’t choose, you go to a sort of purgatory place. I have no idea why it’s bad. BUT APPARENTLY IT’S BAD. Don’t go there.
* According to the interview with the author in the back of my ARC, she is a Christian and has based this idea off the book of the Bible, Revelation! I mean, this is still more paranormal-ish…but the wars definitely seem like religious tensions (without a God figure). And there’s a smattering of Reincarnation thrown in. And it was decidedly intriguing.
While Firstlife was totally cool and unique — ultimately it wasn’t really my favourite. I shall explain all, calm your little hearts. It had a small truck load of things I do like but I found the execution a little irritating.
OKAY WHERE TO START…HUM HMM…
Tenley (“Ten”) begins the story in this deranged sort of prison because she refuses to choose a side in the afterlife. Basically you have to sign a contract with either Troika or Myriad. Light or dark. Both are kind of good? Kind of scary?? And they hate each other?? BUT TEN WON’T MAKE A DECISIONS. She is the most indecisive bean you will ever meet in the history of ever. SHE WOULD RATHER BE TORTURED THAN DECIDE. My issue with this? I have no freaking clue WHY she wouldn’t decide. Her parents wanted her to sign with Myriad so they’d get money or something and when she wouldn’t they locked (!!) her up in prison (!!) where she gets tortured (!!) all the time (!) And the SUCKY PARENTS OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO THEM. The brutality is intense.
But 400+ pages of Ten not being able to decide on the afterlife? Hmm. Maybe not my favourite. And she doesn’t spend a lot of time weighing pros and cons, because she’s TRYING NOT TO BE KILLED. So I felt like we were going round and round and roooound…
But, hey! It was really actiony which was awesome. You dive from one violent struggle to the next. BAM BAM. Torture! Bleeding! Sadistic psychopaths around every corner! My kinda adventure.
And of course, the roooomance. Um, is it a love triangle? While there are two boys here to recruit Ten (one from each side) Ten never really loved Archer. She was totally #TeamKillian. And he was the moody one, while Archer was the bubbly one. Who is surprised at her choice? Exactly no one.
OTHER MINOR THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:
- It was really long.
- The book takes indecision to a whole new level.
- I didn’t love the characters, sadly. I just didn’t connect to them?
- The humour was only sexual innuendos and I am not a fan of that style.
BUT, ALTERNATELY, THINGS I DID LIKE:
- Those characters basically went through the wringer, and omg, the author seriously didn’t coddle anyone! TORTURE. TORTURE EVERYWHERE.
- It left me guessing the whole time and wondering what AWFUL THING WOULD HAPPEN NEXT. Aka, this is a page-turner, folks.
- I’m not going to lie: that cover is basically everything.
- The fact that people have multiple lifespans and can sometimes flit from dimension to dimension…it was pretty unique to read about.
- THAT ENDING THOUGH. I’m unsure whether to “omg give me more!” or “arghhghhg how could you end like that”. I foresee myself needing to swallow the sequel.
OVERALL? Firstlife is a solidly good book! I did growl at the characters 94% of the time and I struggled to care about them or understand their motivations. Plus certain elements felt really overdone…but then others super different and refreshing??! Balance, I guess! It was exciting and leaves me wanting more. LIKE RIGHT NOW.
THANK YOU TO HARLEQUIN TEEN AUSTRALIA FOR THE ARC. Firstlife by Gena Showalter is published March, 2016.
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, long-time 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 that 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 where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…
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