Review: “Firstlife” by Gena Showalter

A review by Amanda.

The afterlife exists – and it’s recruiting. Called the Everlife, it’s divided into two realms, egalitarian Troika and elitist Myriad. Agents for both sides are sent to recruit those still in their Firstlife. The two factions are deadly enemies, resorting to dangerous tactics and trickery to win souls. Citizens sign their afterlives away with ironclad contracts, often swayed by family loyalties or career expectations. Fear of dying while Unsigned is a powerful motivator; no one wants to end up spending eternity in the hellish nightmare realm known as Many Ends.

Tenley Lockwood is expected to sign with the same realm as her parents but she is plagued by questions and doubts. Instead of spending her Firstlife as an average seventeen year old, she has been locked away in an asylum where the head doctor uses unsavory means to convince Ten to follow her parents’ wishes. Ten has managed to resist by using her obsession with numbers as both a focus and a mental distraction. She only has to survive until her eighteenth birthday. As if her life isn’t complicated enough, the factions have decided that she warrants their special attention and each sends an agent to observe, infiltrate, and do whatever it takes to get her to choose.

Firstlife had a unique take on religion and the afterlife, without coming across as preachy. It was a dystopian story with religious undertones that added to the feel, rather than distracting from it. Tenley was a stubborn, unapologetic survivor. She was not concerned with being liked which made her all the more appealing. The romantic subplot followed a predictable path, although it did veer from that path towards the end. And while Ten’s character was well-developed and nicely fleshed out, others were less so. In fact, it was because Tenley was written so well that the lack of depth in the other characters stood out. Firstlife was the first book in Gena Showalter’s new series. The overall concept still intrigues me, and I am interested in seeing where it goes from here.  I will pick up book two, with the hope that it will continue to intrigue, and that the supporting characters will grow and gain more depth.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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