Critique | Firstlife by Gene Showalter

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3.5 Teacups

25785357Goodreads Synopsis:

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…

I read the synopsis for this book and fell in love. So when I was able to get my hands on a copy, I was ecstatic. It’s such an interesting concept with a choice about where you can go after your first death. There are two realms from which to choose: Myriad and Troika. Myriad places emphasis on power, money, and reincarnation. They believe that once you die in your Everlife, your soul is fused with a newborn and you live again. Firstlife is basically a rehearsal for Everlife. Troika believes in taking responsibility for your actions and both your Firstlife and Everlife matter as much as the other. Once you die in Everlife, you get to experience the Final Rest.

I have to say that the book ended up not being what I thought at all. We spend a majority of it wondering where Tenley will end up because she refuses to pick a side. In all honesty, this got extremely frustrating after a while because things were happening and her decision should have been easy to make (or so you’d think), yet we continued in this circle. Nearly 500 pages and no decision was made until the last sentence. 

However, I did enjoy Tenley’s character. She’s clever, she’s strong, and she’s a total badass. Just a tad indecisive. She has this thing for numbers, which was really cool because Gene worked facts into Ten’s inner monologue. It also ended up playing a big part in the story toward the end, which was really cool.

I am going to warn you that this book is set up to have a love triangle. I did however feel like that was basically nonexistent. Each realm sends their best larborer to recruit Ten; Myriad sent Killian and Troika sent Archer. From the start, there’s an automatic attraction between Tenley and Killian that isn’t really there with Archer (because they sent him in as a girl at first???). This was one thing that absolutely bugged the crap out of me because this attraction grew into a love completely out of the blue. For both of them. They had interscted sll ofntwo times whem they werr all like, ‘You’re changing me, I like you, etc, etc.’ Her feelings for both boys, whatever they are, are a major driving force behind her inability to make a decision; both become close friends and important people in her life, and if she chooses one realm, she loses the other.

I liked that there was a lot of action in this book. Like, a lot. It was almost non-stop and after a while, and I had to feel sorry for them. It was a constant uphill battle that kept me as a reader on my toes. One thing I didn’t like though, was that it was a bit graphic. Granted, I’m squeamish as it is, but there wasn’t a detail left out, nor a character spared from some kind of gorish thing.

On the contrary, Gene left out information about a couple pretty important plot points; 1) Why is Tenley so special? They explain what she is, and briefly what her responsibilities would be for each respective realm, but never why. 2) Why are the realms fighting? Right now, it just sounds like they’re fighting for souls, but it’s gotta go beyond that. Neither of these were really answered.

Overall, I would totally recommend this book. 3.5 Teacups isn’t a bad rating for me. I truly did enjoy this book, and I cannot wait to see where it goes in the next one. I’d pick it up if you have the time. 🙂


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