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Firstlife by Gena Showalter | Lunch-Time Librarian

Firstlife Book Review – Canned Chicken with Convicts

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Firstlife by Gena ShowalterONE CHOICE.



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 received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, this does not affect my opinion on the book. 

The Good Bits.

I’m going to say something, and some people might see it as an insult, but I don’t think so. This is it: Firstlife read like a fanfiction. That is to say, there were lots of references to current pop culture and the voice of Tenly felt like it would to talk to any random teenager on the street. Of course with the exception of all her math references, but that’s just a unique quality. The writing isn’t trying to be anything fancy, it’s primary purpose is for entertainment, not to spin an elaborate prose. And it is, entirely entertaining. All the little references, and jokes, and asides keep the story entertaining.

And let’s talk about this concept. Up on Earth there are tons of Myriad and Troika members that go around trying to convince Earth dwellers to, literally, sign over their soul. Signing with one of these factions is forever, but if you dilly dally making your decision you might die before choosing and end up somewhere in-between, insert Many Ends aka DOOMMMMMMMM and so on. I like this concept because it introduces an interesting idea. How much would your Firstlife matter to you if you knew you were getting a second one? Does it matter at all? And moreover, could you make a choice that could potentially last an eternity?

There’s not too many main characters in the book which allows you to focus your character loving energies a bit more. The idea of any of the characters not making the right choice about their Secondlife or dying before they get to choose is incredibly nerve wracking. Even the characters that are living their Secondlife could die and then be dead for real. I was clinging to all the characters chanting “please don’t die”. I found myself overly attached before I knew it, and I may have almost cried at the end. But I was in public so I didn’t 

“Your Firstlife sets the stage for your Second.”


Sour Grapes.

Tenly, nicknamed Ten, has an obsession with numbers. This presents itself as constant counting of objects and numerical themed fact sharing. She also uses ‘zero’ as a curse word for reasons I can’t understand, as she also uses regular swear words. The number things were incredibly annoying, cheesy, and often seemed forced. There is a plot point that connects to her counting, but I felt that it could have worked even without making her obsessed with numbers. I skipped around the paragraphs where she says her facts and cringed every time she used ‘zero’ as a curse word. I really hope this becomes less frequent as the novels go on.

There is a love triangle, that isn’t much of a love triangle at all, because she quickly chooses the guy that’s super hot. The entire basis of her attraction to him is that he’s hot and he’s saved her a couple times. But he’s also trying to win her soul, so it makes sense that he would be accommodating. He is often described as a major player who makes girls fall in love with him to sign them, and then drops them. But Ten is different. Or so she believes, with no other basis to think so except the eternal “but I’m different” fallacy that many a girl has fallen for. He becomes more authentic towards the end, but I can’t stand the ‘bad boy’ archetype so I wasn’t a fan.

I love love loved that each chapter began with a quote from one of the factions. This was beyond helpful in giving you a better idea of what each faction represented. However, I did wish that they were a bit more equal. When I looked at the choices it seemed very obvious which would be the better choice. I often wondered why the characters were even struggling to choose beyond the rebellious attitude of not wanting to choose at all.

“You have a Secondlife, but not a second chance. Choose wisely.”


The Last Bite.

Firstlife is a great book for anyone looking for an action packed, utopia-feel, entertaining book. I had a fun time reading it and there wasn’t any parts where I felt bored. There wasn’t anything that really grabbed me or made the book stand out, but I’ll still be picking up the next book in the series when it comes out.

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Do you think it’s insulting to compare a book to fanfiction?

Let’s do lunch again next week!


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