Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 480 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
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, 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…
Protagonist: Ten Lockwood was sent to Prynne Asylum by her parents, simply for considering alternative options on where to spend her second life. They want her to sign with Myriad, the Everlife they are signed to, because if she doesn't they will face dire consequences. At Prynne she is tortured daily to choose Myriad over Troika, to make the "right choice," trouble is she's not sure what the right choice is for her anymore. I really loved Ten, her time in Prynne hardened her and sharpened her into this sturdy and strong person. Her development revolves around softening up a bit, learning to trust people and figuring out where she truly belongs.
Romance: So I'll admit when I started this book I was a bit upset, I mean a love triangle and a "bad boy with a heart of gold" love interest, shoot me now. I have no problem with either one really, I know a love triangle, when done right, can be a very effective storytelling device, though I'll let you in on a little secret, despite what the synopsis implies, there's no love triangle in this book, It's the whole "bad boy with the heart of gold" I had the biggest problem with, I feel like I see it everywhere, so when I saw it here I felt a bit jaded. Though once I let go of my biases and gave into the story I found the romance quite compelling and the characters involved, even said bad boy, work really well together.
World-Building: So what really drew me to this story was the idea of two afterlives, both are guaranteed to exist and you get to choose which ever one suits you best, but they're at constant was and will resort to tricky tactics to win you over to their side. That's not all though, if you don't sign with one of them you end up in Many-Ends a place that's supposed to be like this world's version of Hell or Tartarus. I loved this concept and it was executed really well, which made this world really come alive. I liked that the two realms, when looked at objectively, would be very hard to choose from. They both have their pros and cons and while by the end of the book I figured out where, if I were in this world, I'd like to end up there are still aspects that the other realm provides that I would have liked.
Predictability: So when I started this book I thought I had it all figures out, I thought I knew most of what would happen and how this first installment would end. Even halfway through the book there was no change in my perceived outcome for this book, in fact I was so bored the what I thought would be the cliched and trope filled end to this book that I actually considered DNFing this book, but since I'm stubborn and didn't want to put so much work in for nothing I persevered and discovered that I had no idea what was going to go on and while my predictions changed and I was able to eventually guess a lot of what really happened I was so excited about how this books shifts that in a lot of ways it was still unpredictable. There are actually a few gut-wrenching twists in this book things that definitely wouldn't happen in a cliched or trope filled story that's for sure.
Ending: This ending was glorious. The final climax was full of action and heartbreak, there's a lot that goes on and there was so much that I didn't really see coming, or rather that I saw it coming, but in some other form that would be far less shocking. As for the end, this book leaves off on a pretty massive though not that unexpected cliffhanger. I will say though that while I initially figured this book would be a duology, and it very well could be, I have this strange feeling that it'll end up bing more of trilogy.
So while I loved this book and cannot wait to read the second installment, since there was a moment where I practically had to force myself to continue, even though it was totally worth it, I just can't bring myself to give this book five stars. It's still incredible and I highly recommend it to paranormal, dystopian, and romance lovers alike.