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Monday, January 25, 2016

FIRSTLIFE by Gena Showalter

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by Gena Showalter

"Will I always be a commodity to win rather than a person to love?"

There is the first life, and then there is the second life.  There are two realms, Myriad and Troika.  All humans are expected to pledge allegiance to one of the two realms by their 18th birthday.  Failure to do so will mean spending your second life in Many Ends (trust me, you don't want to go there).  

Tenley Lockwood has been raised by Myriad royalty.  Her father is an important official, and her mother is a well-renowned artist.  Her choice should be clear.  But Tenley, or Ten as her friends call her, wants the decision to be her own, no pressure.  Unfortunately, the realms have other plans for her.

Tenley is special, although she doesn't know it.  Both realms consider her to be 'fused'; attached spiritually to one who has passed to the ever life.  Although spoiled her entire firstlife, her father decides it's best to send her to Prynne, a 'camp' for the unsigned, to help make her decision 'easier'.

While at Prynne, Tenley is tortured, abused and mistreated.  The methods that were meant to convince her to pledge loyalty to Myriad have instead made her more determined to stay unsigned.  Then one day she gets a new roommate, and soon after a new, handsome young inmate arrives; suddenly her world is turned upside down.  She has always only trusted herself, could she possibly now have allies?

Although I loved this story, it was very hard to follow.  It begins with communications to and from the guardians that were sent to persuade Tenley to sign with their realm, but not having any knowledge yet of these realms, or the characters, it was just confusing.  

Another issue I had with the story was that it was too fast.  I wish Showalter had slowed down and given us some time to get to know more than just the main characters.  I needed more details to wrap my head around this complex, new world that she's created.  There is an explosion, fight, escape, car crash, plane crash, betrayal, rescue in every chapter.  

I am willing to attribute some of these issues to the fact that I was reading an ARC copy on my device, and hope that when the book comes out in print, it will be a whole lot clearer!

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