Book Review: FirstLife by Gena Showalter.

READ MY REVIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK; SPOILERS ARE INCLUDED!

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“Beautifully unique page turner that will keep you on the precipice!”

Synopsis from GoodReads:

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 Review:

For starters, this story was so interesting and unique. I have never read a book like this, and considering I have that different interest in the afterlife, Gena’s take on that aspect was brilliantly done. While reading, all I could keep thinking was that Gena has made a story about there being the prospect of an afterlife, but at the same time it makes readers question whether they really think there is life after death. (Morbid thought, but think about it!)

At the beginning of the story, I must admit it is a little bit slow and you have to persevere for a few pages, but then it’s like something clicks at the pace quickens. Though you don’t really know which way Ten will go in terms of her feelings; who she’ll choose? Where her adventure will take her? What obstacles she’ll face? The one thing I did know, and picked up on it early on, was which realm she’d choose in the end; there is that underlying instinct you see coming through her. It was hidden between the lines all along. Other than those little hiccups, I think the story was written beautifully and actually quite well, it’s definitely a book I would recommend to those who like futuristic, otherworldly and fantasy books.

The way the afterlife-or Secondlife-is broken up into three realms, that really interested me, as well as that in your Firstlife you must pledge your Secondlife to that realm. Troika, Myriad and Many Ends; if I was a part of this story or our world was really like this, I think I would choose Troika. Purely because I am swayed more by their rules and how they live their lives-what they abide by. The most interesting being the exchange-feeling what someone else has gone through, so you bear it and learn from it.

Ten was such a complex character, though she was still that normal seventeen-year-old girl with real life problems and struggles. Sure, not everyone goes through what she did at Prynne, but when it comes to her boys, YES YES YES; that is very relatable, but I loved the outcome of that because it wasn’t your typical love triangle, or even a love triangle at all to me. Coming from that shy girl of her past, after everything Vans put her through, and what she endured-how much she fought-I think she is a very admirable character. She holds hope close to her heart. Her affinity for numbers was fascinating for me, because it, in turn, played into that life is made up of numbers until you pass on. Not to mention I loved how her name and the numbers portrayed the rhyme that Aunt Lina had her singing constantly.

The relationship that Ten has between Archer and Killian is common, yet has that unique twist on it. At the beginning I was thinking that it was going to be another typical love triangle, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t turn out that way. Sure, there was male testosterone flying around left, left, right and centre, with the occasionally puffing of chests. Though I do think with Ten’s personality she could have been perfect for either one of them, but there are those few traits where you see her real choice of where her heart will lead her. It was nice to see that she loved both of them, didn’t anger them both, but knew one was seen as family and the other as the one she belongs with. (Personally, I give props to Ten for being able to choose between them, because if I was in her shoes… Well I’d struggle!)

My favourite part of the entire book was when Ten was running through Many Ends, when finally it clicked that the song that she’d sung her entire life was the key to her escape. All the way through the book I kept trying to figure out what that song meant, and I was analysing it all the time, so how it came into play, well I loved that! Those types of riddles and quests are always what will peak my interest because Ten was the key, she was always the key. In the future, I can see this being a problem and a gift because of where she chose in the end; lightning never strikes twice, and I don’t think she’ll find it so easy to find another doorway to a certain way back.

How the story ends in this instalment of the series, I think that it leaves a lot open for wondering what will happen next, especially for all the characters and the realms they abide with. How will Ten settle into the role and realm she chose for herself? Can she save the man she loves? Can she keep her family safe? And mostly can she stop a war that’s brewing and about to blow its top between the realms?

“There are worse things than death, yes. It’s this book and the suspense it sets off in your heart!”

My Rating:

***** 5/5 Stars

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