Publication date: May 13, 2013
Disclaimer: Chanda Stafford originally sent First to read before I beta read for her new project. I enjoyed First a lot, so I asked her if I had permission to review her novel. All opinions are 100% my own honest opinion.
Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, the boy who wants her to live, or the man who wants her dead.
It’s been awhile since I have read a YA dystopian novel, so it felt refreshing to read this one. Stafford added a unique aspect to the typical dystopian novel by introducing us to the idea of reincarnation and immortality. This is something that I have not seen in YA. If it has been introduced to the YA genre, then it is definitely not common in dystopian. It’s more common in the paranormal and fantasy elements though. Sometimes, it’s good to step outside of the box. However, you could be testing the waters. It could either be a success or fail. For Stafford’s case, I thought she did a phenomenal job in executing this idea with the futuristic society that has advanced medicine and technology. I think that also helped with the idea of reincarnating and the idea of sacrifice into the equation. In this society, there are 2 groups (maybe 3): the Firsts, the Seconds, and the Lifers. The Firsts are the elite/important people that contributes to society by preserving history so history does not repeat itself. These people use the Seconds to use their bodies as a host to continue to live and contribute to society. The Seconds are typically children under 16 years or younger that are used as a host body for the Firsts. When they get chosen, they are Absolved from their crimes. They enter the Firsts’ society to prepare themselves for the sacrificial event. The Lifers are the rebels that refute the idea of sacrificing a human life for a life of immortality and selfishness.
Stafford introduces important themes such as slavery, sacrificing a life just to live another century longer, and other themes. The world-building was present; however, it doesn’t matter whether there was major or minor world-building because I thought the plot and characters were the most interesting and important aspects of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. They were well-developed, realistic, and practical. This story is told in a duo first person point-of-view, and I thought it was a perfect choice for this novel. The duo perspective is from Mira, a Second, and Socrates, a First. I thought this was a brilliant idea to have 2 completely different characters from 2 completely different worlds. What’s interesting about this story is that you couldn’t really tell who’s the antagonist of the story. It’s as if you couldn’t trust any of the characters, and I think it just emphasizes how untrustworthy some of these characters. However, these characters do eventually grow on and you start to sympathize for this characters. Although, I did get agitated sometimes with Mira’s constant questions. But, I have to constantly remind myself that Mira was involuntary pulled into this situation.
As you start to be more interested in the characters, the story begins to unravel itself. You start to immerse yourself in this new world, characters, and story. I think that is what gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not a 5 stars because there are some circumstances that Mira got on my nerves with her constant questioning, and sometimes the descriptions of the settings and character could be too detailed.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone. It has all the right pieces a YA dystopian novel should have even if it’s not from one of the major publishing companies. I definitely think that if more people would read this book, it could become a great hit one day.
The Links to First:
The Links to Chanda Stafford
Author’s Website (Stafford provided all of her links on there)