Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

(Everlife #1)
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Hardcover, 416 pages, Harlequin Teen
Genres: YA, Paranormal/Dystopian




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…

My Review

Tenley has a choice to make. One that isn’t easy. Should she choose Troika, the lighter side, or Myriad, the not-so-light side? Unfortunately for Ten, the choice isn’t as easy as it seems.

We’ve all read the girl-can’t-choose-between-heaven-and-hell story. You know, the one where the sexy bad boy and angelically hot good guy come to battle for her soul? Well, Firstlife is like that, but it’s really not. Probably because these boys aren’t angels or demons, and are instead hoping to get Tenley’s afterlife.

Yes, there are two boys fighting for her life, after her first death, but Tenley has already made her decision and she doesn’t want any part of their worlds. That’s what makes this book so enjoyable, that Tenley isn’t just picking a world because one boy makes her knees buckle and her heart swoon, instead, Tenley is saying “Screw you all” in a very direct manner. I like it. Ten is a strong, unique character. While at first I found her sarcasm irritating and too distracting, simply because it got in the way of getting to know her character, I noticed that once Tenley’s story had progressed, her defense mechanism—sarcasm—seemed to fade and her true personality started to emerge. And SURPRISE! Tenley actually is a good person under all that sass, even though she’d probably tell you to say otherwise.

I also wasn’t as connected to the love interest of this story as I normally am to Showalter’s YA heroes. He seemed too standoffish and disinterested in Tenley’s predicament to even warner my affection. But, when I was about 30% into the book, he started to grow on me. And grow. And grow. And grow. Until, by the end of the story I was cursing Gena for making my bae hurt so much. How dare you harm my beautiful Killian, Ms. Showalter?! Killian isn’t just a hot piece of meat to flaunt about, though. He actually had some major character development. Even though this development seemed subtle, to think about it now, after reading through all of the twists and turns, I realize just how far Killian had to go.

The other characters in the story were often just as complex and sarcastic, like Archer/Bow and Sloane. Archer’s character had me lol-ing quite a bit during the first third of the book, and you’ll know why as soon as you start reading. However, I was disappointed in the character development of Tenley’s parents and the other various villainous people. They were too one-dimensional and I wanted more reasoning behind their actions.

As for the plot of the story, I must say that I had no idea where this story was going from start to finish. I had an entirely different ending mapped out in my head that never even saw a sliver of life. I commend Gena for her ability to keep me consistently on my toes. Although, I did have a hard time actually getting into the story at first. Like I mentioned before, the sarcasm was ridiculously heavy for the first 30% of the book, which made it hard to understand what Troika and Myriad are, as well as why and how Tenley was locked up in the first place. This explanation got better as things progressed, however. Also, Tenley’s predicament at the beginning of the book—her incarceration—is basically just a torture session that went on and on until that same 30% was over. 

Oh, I also had a hard time following the rules of the world, like the powers and why/how humans were different and if this was an alternate universe in the present day or a futuristic story. The world needed more concrete explanation. I think a definitions page would have been a good addition. But I still had a fun time reading it, things just could have been clearer.

Once the book started to slow down, I was hooked and things started to make more sense. Killian started to make me drool. Archer started to make me want to sign my soul over to Troika. And Tenley started to show me who she really was.

All in all, this is a must-read, must-buy, must-covet series-starter for any Gena Showalter fan. And if you’ve never read a Gena Showalter book, 1) What are you doing with your life, and 2) Start. NOW.
*Note: I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion/review.


  1. Great review! I haven't read Showalter before. I know...I need to work on that. This book sounds amazing. I love the fact that the main character doesn't just follow the boy but makes her own decisions. I will be adding this one to my TBR pile.

    1. You definitely should! I'd suggest reading her Lords of the Underworld series and her Alice in Zombieland books too. :)


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