Giveaway (AUS) & Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter – Multiple Lives, Different Ways

February 21, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, DNF, Reviews

Giveaway (AUS) & Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter – Multiple Lives, Different WaysFirstlife by Gena Showalter
Published by Harlequin Teen on March 1, 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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…

Going into Firstlife, I was optimistic about the two lives concept, where you have two chances to live. Myriad believes in wealth and reincarnation, that your first life is merely a rehearsal before reaping the rewards in the afterlife. They believe that your soul is reborn after your second death. Troika, believes that both lives matter as much as each other, and after your second death, you are laid to rest.

This concept was immediately familiar to me, resembling on a basic level, religions that exist in our world. Except here, Myriad and Troika are constantly at war with one another, wanting to recruit as many people into their cause as possible. And membership is mandatory to boost their ranks for war (yet there still happens to be Unsigned, who aren’t aligned to a faction).

What didn’t make sense to me, was why these different groups were constantly at odds with each other. Sure, they have different beliefs, but I didn’t really feel the source of their conflict, other than fighting over people to join them. In Firstlife, all these operatives and ‘friends’ will pop up who rattle on about the benefits of their group. Why are they so adamant on turning Ten into just another statistic? We’re given the excuse of power, without much explanation.

“You have freedom. You have freedom right now. You had freedom yesterday, and the day before and the day before that. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you have freedom of choice. You’re so afraid of making the wrong decision, you’re actually stagnant.”

The world building was filled with holes and questions I needed answered, and even halfway through things did not become clearer. If the unsigned were so rare, why bother injecting so many resources into them? And if people are not born into a faction, and they don’t really have a choice, how is it monitored? Troika will accept verbal confirmations but how do you really know who is who?

All these concepts are infodumped to you at the start of the book, with the reader expecting to pick up the finer details from the character’s conversations. I struggled to find the difference between Troika and Myriad, who were just as ruthless as each other. They’d both go into extreme lengths and resources just to get their way, including scare tactics, torture and intimidation.

While Ten was a feisty character who constantly challenged her situation, I couldn’t connect to her character at all. I needed more details on why she vehemently refuse to join a faction – even choosing to be tortured instead. This was a major focus of the story, but we weren’t given any details on her motivations. Apparently she’s not the sort of girl who goes for looks – but of course this goes out the window when the extremely handsome Killian, who could double as a magazine cover model, steps into the picture.

Can no one like me just because I’m me? Will I always be a commodity to win rather than a person to love?

Killian is of course, instantly in love with Ten and how she’s ‘different from other girls’ *cough*special snowflake. I couldn’t really pick up on his motivations, despite knowing they were shady. I much preferred the sassy and confident Bow, who becomes fast friends with Ten, but who also has motivations of her own.

After reading about halfway, I really struggled to grasp my head around the different groups and their motivations behind trying to recruit Ten. A love triangle also came out unexpectedly, which detracted from the already confusing plot. But the largest detractor was the writing, which was choppy and difficult to get into. It’s like everyone’s speaking a different language that only they understand, alienating you as the reader.


I really couldn’t get into Firstlife. Without the choppy writing, I probably could have pushed through to see if some of my questions were answered for the world building. The different lives concept wasn’t that unique after all, based on religions we already know, and not built all that well. But when I got halfway through and things still weren’t making sense or grabbing me, that’s when I decided to call it quits.

Rating: Did Not Finish 

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for sending me this book for review! 

Giveaway – Australians only

I’m giving away my ARC to one lucky Australian reader! I hope you will have more luck with it!

Fake entries will be disqualified. Winner will be notified via email. Giveaway ends 28 February 2016.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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48 responses to “Giveaway (AUS) & Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter – Multiple Lives, Different Ways

  1. Oh no, I'm sorry you didn't like this one, Jeann! I thought it sounded super interesting with the whole 'dress rehearsal' aspect, but it sounds like it might have been lost in the lack of world building, and the info-sump. I'm becoming less and less tolerant of special snowflakes, and love triangles, so I totally understand your feeling on those aspects. I still *might* give it a try, but I don't think it'll be at the top of my list.

    Lovely review, dear! <3
    My recent post Five Fantastic Things About Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

  2. Lunch-Time Librarian

    It's so funny because I thought the factions were suuuupppeerr different, with one being obviously better. But they do have a lot of similarities. I was confused about the motivation for the fighting too, except it seemed Like Myriad wants the light that trioka has? So they kill off their people because it decreases their light. But decreasing their light doesn't increase the light in Myriad >____< I guess I just assumed this would be sorted out in the next book?

    The instalove Killian annoyed me too though, and he was clearly shady. He becomes somewhat less shady towards the end, but not much
    My recent post DIY Plexiglass Book Case – Bookish DIYs

    • At the start they all seemed the same because of the torture techniques over her, and how they kept on popping up randomly afterwards. It just seemed like it was full of plotholes? Yeah Killian was always annoying and she just kept trusting him because he was hot! *shudders*

  3. I kind of skimmed the review since I have this for review. The few things I read… Makes me want to push it back and read it later on. This is the first review I (kind of) read so I don't really know the rating for this but I'll trust your word on this. I'm sorry this wasn't better for you :/

    • Yeah, it just wasn't my favourite because of the annoying character and frustrating world building. Let me know what you think if you do pick it up!

  4. corrallingbooks

    I'm so sorry you couldn't enjoy this book more! Firslife really interests me because of the setting- it sounds like a really interesting concept! Really sad you felt it was a bit info-dumpy, I tend to freak out when that happens when I read! :/ Hope you find something better soon!
    My recent post Love-A-Thon | I Love You, Bloggers!

  5. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

    Aww man, the synopsis here definitely intrigues me. Sad to hear it didn't work for you 🙁 The cover is also gorgeous! I literally just went on a NG requesting spree on accident and I requested this one… But my percentage is so abysmal I probably won't be approved anyway LOL.
    My recent post Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

  6. treesofreverie

    I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like this one Jeann! I'm interested in giving this book a go as Gena Showalter is quite a big seller at work and I haven't read any of her books before. We also got heaps of copies in at work so I'd like the chance to read it so that I can discuss the book with others. I find that we tend to have quite different tastes in books so maybe this one might work for me! Thanks for hosting the giveaway.
    My recent post Trees of Reverie December 2015 &amp; January 2016 Read-A-Thon | Wrap Up!

    • Yeah, I've heard she's a pretty popular PNR author, but it's a shame I couldn't get into this one. Good luck with the giveaway and everything!

  7. Well, you got farther than I have. I can't even get into the first chapter. I think it's just a me thing though. But so many holes and unanswered questions doesn't have me wanting to try again anytime soon.

  8. Sadly I had the exact same issues with this one too Jeann, although you reached a lot further than I did in the storyline. After reading Her Alice in Zombie land series, I think I've come to the conclusion that her writing just isn't for me. I couldn't have said it better myself, it just felt underdeveloped and I wasn't able to get into it either. Wonderful review nonetheless and hopefully your next book is a much better read <3
    My recent post The Siren… Ballgowns. Ballgowns everywhere

  9. ::SOBS:: Sadly, I have not read a ton of positive reviews about this, nor are you the only one I know who DNFed it (as you know 😉 ) and it makes me SAD. Also, it's a pretty hefty book, and I do not like that it could be long and dull. I don't even know if I want to try anymore. I mean, I probably will, at some point, but it definitely isn't happening soon. I totally understand why you didn't like it though- random confusing infodumps? No thank you. Special snowflake characters? Nope. And the writing wasn't great either, this just sounds a mess. So sorry it didn't work for you!
    My recent post Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk​ | Scavenger Hunt, Giveaways, and Q&A

    • I know, it's pretty sad when you're really looking forward to a book! It's not just the infodumps, but afterwards it's like you're expected to know what the characters are talking about (it's like it's not given much context in their conversations afterwards). Such a shame!

  10. brettmichaelorr

    I'm so sad that you didn't like Firstlife, I really wanted to read the ARC but missed out on the timing…it sounds like such an intriguing concept, and I'd love to give it a read – eventually. It sucks when books are so hyped and then fail so badly (thinking of Glass Sword), and there haven't been many positive reviews yet.

    Thanks for giving such a candid review!
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  11. Aww…I'm sorry to hear this Jeann. 🙁 It's always disappointing when a book has an amazing premise but doesn't live up to it. I can definitely see where you're coming from though: the combined lack of world-building and the choppy writing would irritate me too.Thanks for sharing your thoughts though and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  12. Omgggg it sounds like a BUNCH of cliches have been implemented in this story. Why am I not surprised that the mc gets a model-like love interest? AND A LOVE TRIANGLE? AND Decides to be factionless for no apparent reason?? Add to that the questionable writing, and this doesn't seem to be a book for me. BUT, this review was awesome so there's that.

  13. Bec

    Shame this didn't work out well, though honestly I was expecting it to be like this. Still I hoped it could surprise us :/ I think I'll be staying away because most of the elements (lack of answers, info dumping, love triangle, instalove) would get on my nerves way too much and it doesn't sound unique enough for me to give it a chance.

    Thanks for the honest review, Jeann 🙂
    My recent post 5 Things About Winter by Marissa Meyer

  14. I do understand why you struggled, Jeann! >_< It was a bit of an…interesting one. XD I just wish I'd understood Ten's motivations? Like I get that she wanted to reject her (hoooorrible) parents, but then why wans't it clear cut that she chooses the other side? I was confused by that. 🙁

    • I know, how disappointing is it? Especially with so many great alternate reality/time travel books coming out at the moment. Yeah, there were heaps of cliches in the book. Thanks Alyssa!

  15. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    This kind of really sucks! So many people are disappointed with this one. 🙁 I wasn't all that interested in the first place so guess it's good I skipped it when I saw it on Netgalley.

  16. I haven't read many positive reviews for this book, and it doesn't sound like something that I would read. I understand the general concept of it, but I guess the execution was quite lacking. 🙁 Hope your next read is much better! xx

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