I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I got so sucked into this book and world. I couldn’t put it down. It really is so unique. Essentially, we are in a world where you get a first life and an everlife. Your first life is essentially like our life new, then when you die you go into the everlife. When you go into the everlife there are three options where you end up and you have to prepick them before you die. You can pledge Troika or Myriad—two waring realms—or if you don’t pick you will end up in the scary realm of Many Ends—like an unknown hell essentially. Troika and Myriad have really different ideologies and have been at war for forever, and that division has even split into the firstlife realm—the Harvest realm.
Tenley—Ten—Lockwood has refused to be forced to choose by her parents and consequently has been locked up in an asylum by them. Both realms are trying very hard to recruit her and send their best laborers—recruiters essentially—who are two boys about to turn Ten’s world upside down.
At times the concept was a little hard to grasp with the different roles of the realms and like the laws between realms. Like the boys were there in the firstlife realm even though they belonged to the everlife and interacted with people, it took me a little bit to get it. But overall, it got sorted out and it is a very unique and developed world—and plays well off of our afterlife beliefs. I loved the idea of having two lives and having to pick where you’d go in the second one.
The writing was strong overall, nothing super fancy. I kind of wanted a faster pace in the beginning though. It felt like we were in the asylum a long time when I just wanted us to be outside. I was still sucked in and everything but still. I mean it might have been needed though and I’m just selfish.
Also there are like email communications that appear every so often, from the different boys to their commanders. It is really the only voice or point of view we get from them—even though it is obviously tailored a certain way for their bosses. I really liked it. It kind of kept you guessing of what they were trying to do and if they were being real about their intentions.
Ten was a gem of a character. I love her. She has this really interesting like obsession or just natural habit with numbers. It kind of reminded me of Juliette from Shatter Me for some reason. She also has a thing with poems. Ten really is fierce. Physically and even mentally she is kind of weak and broken but she always pulls herself together and throws herself into everything. She is refuses to pick Myriad—like her parents want—and that is why she is in the asylum. She also refuses to pick Troika. She really just wants free choice without being pressured of anything, at times she can really see pros and cons of both. There is just so much of her that is human and relatable. Like we all I think don’t completely side with one thing, seeing the merits of both.
And then there are our two boys. I started this book thinking it would be a love triangle, but I am happy to report—even though I sometimes guiltily love love triangles—that that isn’t the case.
First we have Archer—aka Bow (you’ll understand what I mean)—who is a Troikian like recruiter essentially. It took me a little bit to love him, mainly because I felt the way he was trying to get to Ten while well-intentioned was deceiving and wrong. But he ends up being totally sweet and loyal. I loved his very honest and strong convicted voice throughout. He’s not perfect but he is trying to do his best and uphold his realm’s values.
Then there is Killian—the seductive bad-boy Myriad with a sexy Irish accent. By mid-book I was swooning every time he said lass. Similar to my experience with Archer, I was against and wary of him at first—even more so because of some shady information we get about him upfront. Also like Archer he grew on me. I love the tortured bad boys who have a soft spot trope—I am trash.
In terms of other side characters, I got so frustrated with most of them. They mostly really suck. Example, some of the other kids inside the asylum, the guards, some Myriad people, and mostly Ten’s parents. Like ugh. We don’t really get many other positive characters besides the Ten, Archer, and Killian trifecta—hey three, Ten would love that.
A riveting story about choices—in both first and second life—and how we as humans should aim to live. Not at all preach, and a compelling way to point out the bad and good in all beliefs as well the light and dark in all people. A series that I am for sure to be addicted to—I picked up the second book right after—and that I will display proudly on my shelves.