Monday, February 1, 2016

Early Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Everlife #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: February 23rd 201
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):



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…

*Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this copy from Netgalley and Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

Life after death is one of those topics that will always be of interest to people, for various reasons, whether it's scientific curiosity, fear of the unknown or personal beliefs. I've always been fascinated with how different people interpret and imagine it, which is what attracted me to requesting and reading Firstlife.

I was very fascinated with the mythology of this world, the idea that you can choose where to go in the Afterlife, either Troika or Myriad. Usually the story of the afterlife is pretty much the one we've grown up with, that if you do good in this life, you end up in Heaven, if you do bad things, you end up in Hell. So I really enjoyed that aspect of free will and the fact that no matter what you do, you can choose how life after death is going to be like.

Tenley, or Ten as friends call her, is in a really bad place at the beginning of this book. I admired her courage, her stubbornness, and her conviction. I personally would have folded and would have accepted anything just to make my life easier. I liked the fact that she was also very loyal to her friends and that she had that "no man left behind" code, when a lot of other people wouldn't have given a damn. I also enjoyed her fascination with numbers. I thought that made her a very unique character and made her stand out more.

The boys, Killian and Archer, make the entire story much wilder and interesting than I first imagined. I didn't get the feeling of a love triangle, which made me insanely happy. Instead, I got the impression that they were willing to put their differences aside and make the right choices for the things they believed in, even if it might have gone against their world. There's an interesting dynamic not only between the two guys and Ten, but also between the guys themselves. There's definitely a story worth exploring there and I'm sure that there's a lot of other stuff that wasn't mentioned in this book that I want to see mentioned in the next books.

Aside from being a fantasy, dystopian story about life after death, I feel like at the core of this book there's the theme of parent-child relationships. I felt like the asylum was a giant metaphor for dysfunctional, toxic relationships between a child or a teenager and whoever raises them and is their legal guardian, be they a biological parent or whatever. It was something that honestly surprised me a little bit, because I wasn't expecting that, but it was done beautifully and I am glad that this was one of the many themes in the book.

As far as pacing goes, I felt like it was well paced, not too fast, not too slow. The ending came out of nowhere and I was shocked that it ended the way it did. It was a massive cliffhanger in my opinion and I am curious to see when exactly will the story be picked up in the next book.

This was a fantastic read and I am very, very excited for book number 2 and the (hopefully) many more books to come.

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