Firstlife – Gena Showalter

Everlife, book one

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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…


I’m writing my review three days after I finished reading, and I’m still feeling the hangover. I’ve seen a lot of muddled reviews on this one, but I thought it was the best YA fantasy I’ve read in a very long time, and I’m in fact fretting right this minute that my review won’t do justice to my feelings.

Let’s start with the concept: Life on earth is only the beginning, and when you die here, your soul goes either to Troika, the realm of light and justice, or to Myriad, realm of shadow and emotion. Life on earth, or Firstlife, is for deciding where you’ll spend your eternity. The undecided ones go to the Realm of Many Ends, stuck in purgatory forever. Sounds cool, right? Here’s the thing, though, that was a much neater summary than what you’ll find in the book. The world building was just as muddled as the reviews. Once I figured out the rules, however, it was (wait for it) one big roller coaster ride and there was no escaping (just guess) all the feels.

I liked Tenley, aka Ten. She was stubborn and tough, resentful of those in authority forcing her to sign with one realm or the other. Her freedom to choose for herself meant everything to her, and she was determined to hold onto it at any cost. Trouble is, persuasion came in the form of Laborers (think recruiters) Archer of Troika, and Killian of Myriad. Each desperate to sign her for his own realm, and soon committed to protecting her from those who consider her indecision a threat in itself. I loved Archer and Killian as much as I loved Ten. The development of the trio, particularly Ten and Killian, moved alongside the action of the story and the best part? NO STUPID TEENAGE LOVE TRIANGLE! IT’S A MIRACLE!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m an emotional reader, and if a book plugs into my feelings and starts scrambling things around, I’ll be sold on it. This one, for instance, had me curled up in a corner booth at McDonald’s for three hours, biting my nails, tapping my foot, and almost beating the book on the table, I was so wound up. And the ending? I needed a quiet room to decompress afterwards. It also made me think, comparing the vastly different codes of morality represented by each realm and how logic, principle, and emotion often clash, resulting in chaos. Ten’s fascination with numbers made a quirky addition that was a bit charming, and there were several points where I wasn’t quite in tears, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t choked up.

This was my first Gena Showalter book, and it definitely won’t be the last. Anything this intriguing and exciting, with the capacity to reduce me to a basket case in the middle of a restaurant, is worth more of my time. The hardest part will be waiting for the next installment!

About RisingPhoenix761

Hello! Glad to meet you! Long story short, I've got a young heart with an old soul, I love to think about stuff, and occasionally share what I think about. Stick around, if you like!
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