Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Firstlife by Gena Showalter
Series: An Everlife Novel
Published on February 23, 2016
Juvenile Fiction \ Fantasy & Magic
Harlequin, 480 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
My Rating: 3.5 Stars


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.


Two things drove me to read Firstlife. One, of course, is the stunning cover that hints at its sci-fi futuristic world, and two - the concept of an Everlife/afterlife where two warring realms/kingdoms fight for control and human souls. Sounds intriguing right? Well, it is.

Firstlife ended up being an interesting read for sure and, for me, it was very much a balance of pros and cons. Let me give you the rundown.

Pro: I really enjoyed the fact that Tenley "Ten" is such a feisty and determined heroine. She's smart, tough and won't be forced by anyone into making a decision regarding her choice for an Everlife.

Con: Unfortunately, for all feistiness, her indecisiveness when it comes to choosing Troika and Myriad, even after 400 pages, and with little reasoning or clear indication why becomes exasperating. I wanted to know why?? Is there a big secret being withheld?  

Pro: Troika and Myriad sound so intriguing and by the cover art, look like they would be incredible world building. The details made me want to go to both immediately.

Con: The reader never really gets to step foot into either realm with Tenley and I so wanted to experience some rather that just from secondary descriptions. 

Pro: The romance and friendship are played out very well and I love the extra dynamics it added to the group. Banter, feisty dialogue, great camaraderie and a twist to the usual love triangle (there's none to worry about) all made Firstlife enjoyable to read.

Con: And this is mostly just personal, I kinda shipped the wrong person its seems :(

Pro: I liked the whole concept of two realms vying for souls/control and the idea an afterlife.

Con: Why, though? I would have loved some background tidbits or foreshadowing.

Pro: I loved all the details and getting to know Tenley and the two Laborers sent to recruit her. 

Con: The story just seemed to long though and some of the pacing just threw me off at times.

Pro: The story opens in a dark, gritty asylum and there's plenty of action and intrigue with some great ass-kicking. Yay, Tenley is no pushover!

Con: I just could not come to term that parents ( I know this is YA fiction ) would torture the child like this. Sorry - not. Just make them into villains, please...

Recommended to fans of Gena Showalter's writing and new readers who may want to try this unique series opener and those who are in the mood for something a bit different and enjoy sci-fi and a futuristic vibe in their YA reads. If my cons don't concern you, I say go for it. I'm still very curious and plan on checking out the next installment as I have high hopes that Showalter is going to deliver readers into the realms of Troika and Myriad.