There’s a whole lot of “first” going on in this post! So Firstlife is the first book to come back to life from my DNF pile. I don’t often not finish books. I screen books pretty thoroughly before I read them. Typically I read the summary on Goodreads and a few trusted non-spoiler reviews before putting them on my TBR, so I’m fairly confident I’m going to at least be able to get through them, even if they aren’t my next favorite book. I even got over 200 pages into this book before putting it down, I thought for good, but something made me pick it back up, so here’s what I thought after finishing the whole thing.
Series: Everlife, #1
Author: Gena Showalter
Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 480 pages
Format: Library book
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…
Shelf it on Goodreads
So here’s the alphabetical run down:
I was just not into the characters in this book. I had a hard time being invested in Ten’s livelihood or the outcome of her choice. She is not very likable and even as I tried to summon some respect in her for her bravery I found myself thinking that her decision to be tortured in the asylum instead of making a decision was just silly. Why does she hold fast to her choice not to make a choice so tightly? There’s not a legitimate reason given, just that she’s “not ready” and doesn’t want to let her parents control her life. Maybe I’m too old for that logic. Also, Ten is obsessed with numbers and uses the word “Zero!” throughout the book as a curse word. It just became comical and made the situation seem silly whenever she used it.
Both of the main character boys in this book are characterized by… being hot. That’s about it. Archer and Killian are both Laborers from Troika and Myriad respectively and they are actually just souls from those realms in “shells” while visiting in Firstlife, but apparently their shells are very, very attractive. Ten can’t seem to get over this fact and talks about it often. So let me be clear, I absolutely love a good love story. What I do not like is the “dream-boy fantasy every girl in the universe has ever had” and a narrator who swears she doesn’t “care about a pretty face”, but can’t seem to get over how attractive these boys are. I really like a good he’s-not-perfect-but-he’s-perfect-for-me main character boy, but Showalter seems to enjoy the Ken doll look, so I guess it’s just a difference of opinion.
This cover is absolutely gorgeous! The aqua-gray-blue color ombre background is just lovely. From the descriptions of the realms in the book I assume the top of the hourglass is Myriad and the bottom is Troika.
This book is chock-full of biblical metaphors, which was really interesting. If you are familiar with the Bible (I’m a Christian and I read my Bible on the regular), then you’ll start to hear a lot of familiar concepts. I’m not sure whether that was a pro or con for me, but I’m interested to see how it continues to play out in the series. However, in the first 50 pages there is way to much information dump, thinly veiled as characters trying to explain Everlife to one another. I understand that the concept of the book is complicated, but I’d have enjoyed learning about it in a more organic way throughout the story.
I had trouble with Ten throughout the book. Her dream is to break out of the asylum and then buy a beach house and surf and then make a decision about the realms. She just seems to have no real sense of purpose at all except evading this decision as long as someone is pressuring her or manipulating her to make it. Also, her idea of buying the house is summed up as “I want to buy it with my inheritance and owe no one.” Wow. I just love the naivety of that statement. Seriously, your inheritance is from your parents, so unless you plan to get a job and make some money on your own you will always owe someone.
Later in the book, Ten’s decision actually does carry some weight. There are people she cares about in both Myriad and Troika and other characters’ lives are on the line based on her decision. At that point I finally agreed with her that her decision carried some weight, but it was a bit too little too late for me.
The “raw, dark and edgy” that this book is praised for didn’t resonate with me. There are certain books (ahem, Hunger Games) where the threat seems real and the characters lives seem like they are actually on the line. I think I just wasn’t invested enough in the characters to be worried for their survival.
“Living shouldn’t be synonymous with surviving.”
After putting it down, picking it back up, and then actually finishing Firstlife, I’m interested in the concept enough to want to see where the story goes from here, but will go into the second book with lower expectations than the first.