Published by Harlequin Teen on March 1, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
Add to Goodreads
NO SECOND CHANCE.
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.