Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: Firstlife (Everlife #1) by Gena Showalter

Firstly, thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: January 5-12 2016
Date Released: March 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Product Page:
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
My Rating:



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…"


What is it about pretty covers that draw me in every time? Especially ones with cities and skylines. As soon as I saw the cover of Firstlife I was like “OOOH GIMME DA PRETTY”. Then I read the synopsis and I knew I needed it in my life. For what it’s worth, the cover perfectly reflects the story and the blurb was accurate. Sadly no pretty cover could save the way Firstlife went downhill. Or should I say it just dropped into an abyss?

The premise for Firstlife is fantastic. In the growing trend of parallel worlds/alternate universes, Showalter takes the concept and adds a twist with the idea of afterlife. What if there is life after death and you can choose where to go? Our protagonist Tenley has been forced into an asylum to make her choose a realm. Essentially this book is about choices and the consequences of each person’s decision. I find this is so cool.

I really liked Ten in the beginning. She’s been toughened up by the asylum and the torture she goes through but at the same time she has a really big heart. Ten is driven by compassion and the need to help others. We’re not given much information on her personality pre-Prynne but I get the impression that her compassion has deepened due to the effects of the asylum and seeing what it’s like when people give you only hard choices. Her snarky voice added humour to the sometimes bleak story. Her obsession with numbers and facts related to them added to her character as it was her coping mechanism. By the end of the book though, I felt that a lot of her choices started becoming really selfish. She was being stubborn with a lot of decisions, and I hated that she kept passing the blame onto a particular person. What really turned this book upside down was the way her decisions were basically 100% driven by her romantic interests by the end and how, in a life or death situation, she’s thinking how hot this guy is. NO.

Ten is accompanied throughout the book by two male companions – Archer and Killian. I’ll save you the guessing and tell you that this book has NO love triangle. And I cannot believe I’m saying this but I wish there was because I HATE the love interest and the other guy is so much better for her. What killed me about this was that while both companions were clearly helping her, she kept lumping the blame onto one while constantly forgiving the other. And why? Well it seemed to me it was because of his hot looks. I will say that both companions clearly care for her but after seeing their back stories, WHY she still defends the ‘hotter’ guy (because obviously they both have to be exorbitantly handsome) is beyond me. It just pissed the hell out of me the way it so quickly went beyond attraction. It really felt like insta-love.

The romance was 100% NOT believable and I don’t ship it I don’t feel it NONONO. It’s wrong. From the beginning it’s clear he’s seducing her; she knows it, she lets him. This guy has like ruined other girls just out of spite and Ten thinks that SHE is an exception? That SHE could be any different? Please. For a girl who seems quite smart I don’t understand how she could be so delusional. There is only a hint of doubt on Ten’s part and it’s all quickly washed away by his closeness and scent and oh oh he’s so beautiful I’M GAGGING. Excuse me.

The plot itself is definitely well-thought out. And it would have been better had it not been so overdosed and driven by the romance. The realms have secrets and there’s this place called Many Ends that raises lots of questions about the idea of choosing a realm. What I thought was great about Firstlife was that Showalter shows glimpses of the realms so you know they’re real and everybody knows they’re real. But as Ten discovers, there’s so much more going on behind the scenes and how the realms were shaped. Showalter has created a great concept that can be built on for the sequels. The world-building is great – the realms and descriptions of creepy places and the torture. It’s still YA “friendly” per se but there’s just enough pain that you know Ten is tortured and she feels it. Towards the end though, I got the feeling that the realms are loosely based off afterlife realms we’re all quite familiar with...

I mean looking back this could have been great. The concept of an Everlife by choosing realms, each realm’s separate beliefs, the funny voice/writing with descriptive world-building, lots of secrets unfolding and a strong-willed protagonist. That was all shattered by the unnecessary and unbelievable focus on romance. Y u do dis? So obviously this wasn’t for me but that’s because I can’t deal with romances that move quickly. I like ‘em slow burn. Slow and steady wins the race yeh? No not really idek. ANYWAY. If you can overlook the romance then this is a very interesting book with a concept not widely explored so mebbeh you enjoy dis and you tell Jaz? Yes? Yes.


  1. JAZZZ finally, we agree on a book that we disliked! I couldn't stand how Ten would throw everything out the window just because of how hot the guy was, it just seemed completely and utterly ridiculous! I mean I hate it when the romance trumps the plot and all logic. Awesome review!

  2. This one sounds amazing, but I hate it when a romance drives everything, especially one that we as the reader don't like. I am on the fence with this one still. Great review!

  3. I think maybe I could like this one!? Honestly, I think this one sounds pretty amazing, and it all comes down to personal taste. I think, maybe, this will be one to borrow, not buy. Shame you didn't like this one that much!! :(

  4. What I've read of Showalter before I've absolutely hated and it looks like the things that bothered me before haven't changed in her new series... which is a shame because I love this premise. I love it... but clearly reading it is out of the question.

  5. And crappy Operation Get a Date kills my interest in another book. I was seriously interested in this one, until i read up on the romance. No, thanks. I've had my fill of that crap.