Firstlife, by Gena Showalter | Book Review #160

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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…

TRIGGER WARNING: Torture, Murder, Blood.

Firstlife is a book that contains a ton of action. Once you read why there’s a lot of action, you realize why there is indeed a lot of action throughout this novel. And a lot happens, oh boy, does it ever. I feel like Firstlife has it all: The love interest (who we finally see what he truly looks like by the end of the book). The main characters’ need for world peace, people who try to kill her, her losing pretty much everything and everyone she has and loves, all wrapped up in one Young Adult Sci-Fi novel. And there is a second book to Firstlife, so if you were hoping for a standalone, this book probably won’t be the book for you.

We have a single point of view. We see everything through Tenly. Tenley Linwood is a 17 year old girl, who is tortured because she won’t sign her life allegiance to a power, and because her dad is a greedy asshole. She just wants peace between everyone, and lastly, she just wants to be loved. And the poetry that she makes. Holy crap, is it good. I’m not one for poetry, but even I can tell that the poetry is good.

The “power” I’m talking about is how in this book there are pretty much two sides you can choose from before you die, to ensure that you can come back from the dead. Which is incredibly weird, and I think what makes this book individual to its own.

When I first heard about this book and read the synopsis, I thought there may have been a chance; a really low chance of me liking this book. However, I actually ended up liking Firstlife more than I thought I would. That’s not to say that Firstlife is a new favourite of mine. Oh no, it’s not. For me personally, I found that while Firstlife is certainly interesting, there is a lack of shine.


Firstlife, while it didn’t have that certain shine, was still a pretty good book all around. At the beginning I felt like I was rereading Shatter Me. The similarities between the two books are completely obcious (for those who’ve already read Shatter Me). But then the book veers off in a somewhat different direction than Shatter Me did. — I say “somewhat different” because I literally can’t deny the similarities that Firstlife has to Shatter Me.

There’s certainly an aspect of a love-triangle that could’ve happened, but that bullet was dodged when she thinks of him as a brother, and he thinks of her as a sister. “Sister of [his] heart.”

What happens by the end of this book is something that I’d expected, yet when the final scene of the book arrived and Ten made her decision, I was still surprised. While reading Firstlife, I often found myself gripping the pages of the book, bracing myself for what was going to happen. I’d laughed quite a few times in this novel, and I mourned just as much. I loved and mourned just as Tenley did.

Gena Showalter’s writing had a way of making me feel submerged in the book, not knowing what to expect next.

I can honestly only imagine what’s going to happen in the next book, Lifeblood. And until I get my hands on a copy of Lifeblood, will I try my best not to get my hopes up for whatever may happen. If I think about Lifeblood too much, my mind will go so many different directions as to what might or night not happen.

I ended up giving a Firstlife rating of 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read Firstlife before? Are you interested in reading it at all? If you have read it, what are your thoughts?

Happy Reading!

One thought on “Firstlife, by Gena Showalter | Book Review #160

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