Paranormal Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from 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…
Firstlife is a dark start to this new series, introducing us to Ten in the asylum of which she's a temporary resident, and we're quickly submerged in the horrors of her day to day life. Ms. Showalter doesn't pull many punches in the opening third of this tale, the physical and emotional torture (as her parents are the one ordering her "treatment") ensuring we grow attached to Ten quickly and easily if for no other reason than to be a silent support system and witness to her abuse. Ms. Showalter doesn't leave us in complete darkness however, her trademark sense of humor providing much needed moments of levity in the form of two new inmates to Prynne Asylum, and we grab hold of those fleeting moments with all our strength before Ten's capacity for pain endurance is tested once again.
The aforementioned inmates turn out to be two young men, one from Troika and one from Myriad, sent to convince Ten to sign her Everlife (or life after human death) over to their realm, and while the mention of two guys in Ten's life might send many a reader running for the hills, no love triangle forms. Archer, the representative from Troika, initially comes to Ten in the form of her female roommate in the asylum, and their bond, even when he returns to his naturally glorious male form, remains firmly in the friendship zone until it gradually deepens and becomes one that exists between family. Her romantic feelings are for Killian exclusively, though the romance between them remains in the background of the epic battle between Troika and Myriad to recruit Ten, and is deliciously slow in forming due to her understandable trust issues.
Firstlife is a thrill ride from beginning to end, the callousness with which one of the realms in particular treats a person's human life something that makes our blood boil and our loyalty shift to its enemy with far less deliberation than Ten undertakes. Her inability to pick a side is completely understandable within the context of her circumstances however, and before it becomes a source of frustration she makes it clear to us as readers who she favors, but she must continue to avoid a firm decision in order to play the political game she's unwillingly drawn into.
Overall, this first installment is a fast, enthralling read despite its length, Ten's story both brutal and uplifting as she's forced to learn what family and friendship truly mean in the most painful way possible.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.