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…
This book is going to be interesting to rate and review. To be honest I almost DNF it more times than I can count, and getting through the first third or so of the book was so slow going even when I kept deciding to push through. I found reasons to put the book down and do something else. Dishes, laundry, you name it. Considering my reading time is very limited anymore, you would think I would have just gone with the DNF and moved on. But there was just something about the world and storyline that kept me reading. And I'm so glad I did. There's a pretty big change in situations/surroundings for Ten, and once that event happens, I was completely hooked. I flew through the pages just to see what would happen next.
I think there were the foundations for a solid five star book here based on the incredible premise alone, which is what made the book even more frustrating than it should have. You have the first half the book which drags incessantly with no real explanations of anything, cruelty for the sake of cruelty at times it seemed that leave the reader completely detached and almost uninterested. And then the second half of the book takes up at an almost frenetic pace, and yet still somehow the reader still has no idea what's going on. I needed more info altogether, especially early on in the book. Towards the ends there were hints at somethings and peeks at conflicts to come, and while it was enough to keep me intrigued, it was not enough to satisfy.
The characters were solid and fully three dimensional, and yet I still felt a bit of detachment from them as well. I think that stemmed more from the lack of explanation about the warring sides, and no real reason ever given for why Ten refused to choose. Honestly it felt like just stubborn teen indecision, and that didn't jive with the tortures she went through because she refused to make a choice. Honestly it just didn't make sense why she would choose torture over a decision when she had no real reason not too. I guess I would have preferred a deeper reason. Add that into her obsession with numbers that seemed to randomly take over, and then all of a sudden disappear, which felt like a convenient quirk to try and make her more interesting rather than a real personality trait.
I realize this review sounds mostly full of frustration, and while that's accurate, it's not really the whole story. Once I was finally hooked, I couldn't stop reading and found myself flying through the pages. And then low and behold would you believe it ends in a killer cliffhanger. So now I'm frustrated, intrigued, impressed, and dying to get my hands on the next book all at the same time. And that ladies and gentlemen perfectly summarizes FIRSTLIFE, a whole mix of good and bad meshed into one package. So in the end I'll give this one a solid three star middle of the road and look to the next book to continue the trend/pace set at the end of this one.