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BOOK REVIEW- Firstlife (Everlife #1) by Gena Showalter

BOOK REVIEW- Firstlife (Everlife #1) by Gena ShowalterFirstlife (Everlife #1)
by Gena Showalter
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Step one...you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. 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, long-time 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 that 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 where the boy she's falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

“What is light, exactly?” What’s she going to be pushing on me?

“Whatever is needed to help someone find a way out of darkness.”

The library that I work at has this great thing where all of our reference team staff members meet once a month to talk about books we’ve been reading recently.  We do this because our tastes are obviously all over the place and by talking about books we love in the genres we love, we can expose other people to books they might not have heard about before.  Mine are ALWAYS YA lol and usually one other woman’s are too.  She brought this series up at our last meeting and it sounded like something I would really like, and probably fly through since we have very similar tastes.  She was right!  I sped through this book and currently have the other two on hold! Fingers crossed I get them ASAP.

Before we parted, the TL assigned to me asked me a question that cracked through a hard outer shell I hadn’t known I’d erected. Are you living your parents’ dream…or your own? I’d scoffed at him then, but that night and every one after, I’d wondered… Why do I believe what I believe? What is truth and what is lie? What is real? What makes me right and so many others wrong? What if I’m wrong?

Now, as a disclaimer, I REALLY did enjoy this book buttttt I feel like talking about the things that grated on me first.  I have never read any other book by Gena Showalter so I don’t know if these things are the norm in the rest of her books but parts of her writing bothered me.  This is small thing that might just bother me because I was an English major but I noticed that there were several words throughout the book that were used COMPLETELY wrong in a sentence.  Like maybe it was just super shitty editing??? Not sure but I just kind of had to stop a few times and wonder what she was trying to actually say.  Shrug.  Then…and this is totally just me…I have really started to notice my age recently (and maybe having a baby now affects me, too).  It might be because more YA seems to be inching closer to NA lately but when I go back and read a contemporary or even certain YA fantay/dystopian/sci fi, I have been having some MAJOR eye roll moments.  Like some of the innuendos that these friggen 16-year-olds use and the sappy moments they have together with situations of expressing their undying love makes me want to gag and/or laugh hysterically (basically things that I would have eaten up a few years ago).  So yeah, there were a few of those moments in here, bahaha.  That was really it for the things I didn’t like though and most seem to just be totally small and personal!

“Living shouldn’t be synonymous with surviving.”

On to what I did like..which was about 90% of it!  Firstly—this super creative storyline!  All humans on Earth are living what is called a Firstlife (so basically just what we’re living right now).  Eventually when they die they will enter one of three realms as their Everlife—Troika which serves the light, Myriad which serves the dark, and then there’s a third in-between kind of place.  You see, to enter the first of the two realms, you have to pledge yourself to one of them before you die.  Those that don’t, end up in the in-between place that has a horrible name for itself.  Spirits called Laborers from Troika and Myriad can also come into the regular human realm in bodies called Shells to basically try to scout people and get them to join their side.  Whichever side has more people basically has the upper hand.

When we meet the main character, Tenley/ Ten, she is locked up in an asylum for young people who refuse to make a decision (mostly by parents who have certain things riding on their children signing to a specific realm).  She gets a roommate, Archer –who is disguised as a girl named Bow (lol), who is her Troika Laborer and eventually runs into bad boy Finn (WHO HAS AN IRISH ACCENT OF COURSE) who is her Myriad Laborer.  She’s a special case because her spirit will either be able to amplify the light or darkness depending on where she ends up in her Everlife.  The two aforementioned eventually help her escape and basically she’s on the run for the rest of the book and spends the entire thing trying to think about what she should end up deciding.  (It’s more interesting and action packed than I just made it sound, too FYI)

This decision was also a part of the book that I LOVED.  It seemed to me that Troika= a version of heaven, Myriad= a version of Hell..but like…a better, more fun version? lol, and I was assuming the in-between place would be like a purgatory.  BUTTTTT here’s the thing.  It wasn’t cut and dry, black and white.  Ten struggled over which to pick because the two main realms have their fill of good and bad points and I loved that.  I can really appreciate when things like this have a little gray area instead of being completely binary.  Makes things niiiiiice and complicated haha.

So yes, overall I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a strong and sassy female lead, a super interesting premise, and hot, Irish bad boys.  Won’t tell you what Ten decides so you’ll just have to read and find out for youself!

I prepare to take it like a girl. Better than a man.

 

Which would you choose?

BOOK REVIEW – Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter

BOOK REVIEW – Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
by Gena Showalter
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

I wish…yeah, I wish.

Well, there was a lot of good in this story…..and there was also some bad. I didn’t need the Alice In Wonderland references to be obvious or even close to the original telling. Truth be told, I didn’t care for AIW as a child, but I still find it fascinating when an author chooses to re-vamp an old fairy tale (was that really a fairy tale? It was so creepy) so I chose to give this one a go on the recommendation of my brilliant British friend :P.

One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything I knew and loved was gone.

I think it needs to be said up front that there was hardly an association with AIW, it was more of an inspiration for this story. The girl’s name is Alice, though she likes to be called Ali for short, and the chapter titles are things like ‘Off with her head!’ Now, that was plenty awesome for me-see, that was just a fun little poke at what we all knew and….liked, and it was a great way to direct the story in the way it needed to veer. As someone in another review that I read stated, I started to see the characters emerge as their inspirations near the end-i.e. the Queen of Hearts and all her little cards (soldiers, you know what I mean). It was fuzzy, and had I not read that random review I might not have noticed, but it was there-even if it was merely a glimpse.

I glanced at the rabbit. The round thing in its hands now had hands of its own-clock hands, tick, tick, ticking away. It had come to warn me, I realized. Not about a car wreck, but about the zombies. The time had come; they were here.

Alice loves her family dearly. She has her normal mom, her super awesome sister, and her crazy, neurotic, non-existent zombie-seeing father. They all respect him, but think he is nutso-I mean, you can’t see anything, so why is he always acting so shifty? Then one night, Alice spots a rabbit shaped cloud and she points it out to her sister as they ooh and ahh….then that fateful night, after seeing the rabbit cloud (See it? See the reference?), they have a horrible crash after her father spots ‘zombies’…and Alice sees them too-but its too late.

“It’s too late now,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry, Alice, so very sorry. He’ll be coming for you.”

Fast forward and Ali is living in a world with no color-it was her fault that she bribed them all to go out after dark for her sister’s first ever recital, it’s her fault she used her birthday as a bargaining tool….or so she thinks. She has been living with this guilt all summer, and then she has to start at a new high school at the end of the break and everything changes.

As a story, this started out so strongly. She meets Kat, the queen bee with the ‘in-crowd’ socialite friends and the aptitude for talking a mile a minute…and then she sees a boy with violet eyes leaning against a locker and they can’t stop staring at each other-he with a fierce snarl and she with mesmerized doe-eyes…but it’s not what you think. It scarcely ever is. He is the bad-boy leader with a pack of loyal bro’s (and I suppose ho’s as well), and they are always in fights, always causing problems, always have bruises and…always disappearing?

“In my defense, I’ve lost a lot of friends doing this, and you look so fragile. So…breakable. Forgive me.” His voice dipped low, became a mere rasp. “Please. I love that you ask a thousand questions a day, and I don’t know what I’ll do if you’re not around.”

What I normally would have dubbed ‘cheesy dialogue’ came off as cute, refreshing, and hilarious as Kat and Ali would banter back and forth and she would take on everyone that pissed her off-namely, her ex-boyfriend (and loyal cronie for Cole), Frosty. Lol-nice nicknames, I guess. I liked the way they interacted and I found that it would bring a smile to my face when Kat would enter the picture-both her and Ali had a way of talking that just cracked me up and, while some would say that is not how real people talk, reminded me of how me and my friends are or would be. It was cute, funny, and easy to relate to-albeit different, for sure.

I wasn’t offended. I liked her honesty. “What should I have said?”
She batted her lashes at me and lowered her voice to a smoky rasp. “Cole, you big strong manimal. I know the boogeyman thinks you’ll jump out of his closet, but I think you’re-Hey, are you listening to our private conversation, Marcus?” she ended in a shout. “Yeah, that’s right. Run.”

And Cole, I realllyyyy enjoyed Cole. I thought it was heading in a great direction with him, and it did, it really did, but I wanted…more. Like, no it wasn’t even insta-love or even drug out, it was just placed in the middle and kind of stagnant for a bit. The beginning and end with him were great-I just would have liked to get a little more emotional depth from his side throughout the story. Otherwise, I loved his character. He was sweet, protective, bossy….I did love his character (what was I thinking?) but I just didn’t love how their relationship progressed and I wanted more of his character development.

“You look beautiful, by the way,” he said, stunning me.
Pretty words meant to soften his “for now”, I’m sure. “I thought I looked tired.”
“Beautifully tired.”
“In my plain white button-up meant for winter? Doubtful.”
“I don’t mean your clothes. It’s you.” He sifted strands of my hair through his fingers, tickling my scalp. “There’s something about you. Something that sets you apart from everyone else.”

And finally, the age-old faux pas of telling, not showing. Or even maybe withholding information-I don’t know-but what I DO know, is that I would have liked a liiiittlllee more here and there-this author definitely didn’t do it a ton, but every once in a while I was like ‘Come oooonn, a little MORE, please!’

Surely I’m not the only one who takes “don’t look now” as “there’s no better time than now.” I looked.
“Bad, Ali!” Another slap to my arm. “Bad, bad, bad, Ali! Have you no self-control?”

So, all in all, I really enjoyed this story. I am excited for book two and can’t wait to see more from Cole and Kat, my two favorite characters. More than once I saw myself in Kat or in Ali, their mannerisms seeping snark, overexaggerations, and trailed off thoughts….. (:P) So, I will leave it at that-this is something I would rec if you want a fun, quick ride with not much thought involved-it flows easily enough and leaves room for much more fun to happen……..I can’t wait to read book two.

Maim…Kill…Destroy…

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