Tenley "Ten" Lockwood has spent the last thirteen months of the seventeen years of her life in an asylum. She was sent there by her parents for not making covenant with Myriad, the realm her parents want her to side with in the afterlife. See, it's an accepted fact that Firstlife is simply a rehearsal for what comes after death. In your real life, your Everlife, you sign with one of the two ruling powers: Myriad or Troika. Myriad and Troika, deadly enemies, have been at war with one another for centuries and each attempts to recruit humans to tip the scales to their side. Both realms are willing to do anything to recruit Ten to get her on their side and each sends one of their top Laborers to win her over her eternal soul. Ten knows she can't trust anyone, but she realizes she may be falling for one of the boys sent to sign her soul to their realm - and he may not belong to the realm she's drawn to. All she has to do is survive long enough to make a decision.
The concept behind Gena Showalter's Firstlife piqued my interest from the moment I heard of its release - the idea of multiple lives and that you know what the afterlife entails from the get-go - and look at the cover. It's fantastic. However, I did not like the execution of this novel at all - in fact, I couldn't bring myself to make it beyond page sixty-five, the second chapter. I have plenty of other books I'd prefer to spend my time reading, and hopefully enjoying, rather than continue here for another four hundred pages. Here are the main aspects that I didn't like: the infodumping, the special snowflake syndrome, the (assumed) love triangle, and my disconnect from the main characters.
For the most part, all of what I made it through is a giant infodump giving us the basics of the Everlife and who's who. It gets a little exhausting getting so much dropped at your feet all at once, especially when a good deal of it comes across as needlessly vague. I had a hard time telling the difference between Myraid and Troika. Although each has its own core values, those are constantly being undermined by the other side's propaganda. Both are willing to go to any lengths to claim victory to the point that the reader doesn't even know what to think. Not to mention that Archer Prince, the Troika Laborer sent to sign Tenley's soul to his realm, doesn't actually seem to embody any of the characteristics associated with his side.
Now, for some reason, Tenley is a special snowflake. Supposedly, she will be able to turn the tide of the war for either side. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea why she's the most important soul currently living her Firstlife on Earth. I also have no idea why either side is willing to go to such great lengths to get her on their side, even after such a huge infodump. Also, I have absolutely no clue as to why she wouldn't have made any kind of decision in the first place. As far as I can tell, she could be doing it to spite her parents. If that's the case though, she can't be in her right mind to undergo torture and watch her friends die - just make up your mind already, or clue me in as to what you're trying to accomplish!
If you couldn't tell, I just felt so disconnected from her and everyone else - like I was missing something vitally important about everyone. By the way, I fully expect there would have been a love triangle if I had continued on with this story between Tenley, Archer, and Killian (the Myriad Laborer). I can just imagine how that could have gone - I mean, if she can't make up her mind to save her own life, how in the world is she going to decide between two boys.
Overall, I definitely preferred the concept and the cover to the first two chapters. I gave Firstlife a shot, but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. However, I would like to try this author again - eventually I would like to pick up Alice in Zombieland and see if I have any luck there.
I was hoping for something more like this:
But by the time I was ready to quit I felt like this: