Review: Everlife Series by Gena Showalter


Everlife is a high concept science fiction series that goes heavy on the romance and light on rationality.

“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.” This is how the first book in the Everlife series, Firstlife, is described.

The books series’ premise is interesting. Everyone has two lives, a firstlife and an afterlife. There are two rival factions, Myriad and Troika, with different mentalities. Why did Tenley ultimately choose the faction she did? This is never delved into. Why do the two factions even exist (short of having a sellable idea that’ll translate well on the big screen)?  This is something rarely (and briefly) wondered about.  The idea has some interesting ramifications, like contemplating what worth a human life has if the people possessing it know there is going to be another one? Unfortunately this is yet another fascinating idea literally never discussed amongst Tenley or any of the other characters.

Tenley Lockwood is special. Really really special. She might be the most special girl in all the world. Literally. The term special snowflake is defined here as the girl who the world revolves around, the savior of the realm. She is the chosen one. She is the sun her universe rises and sets around.

Unfortunately, this book might have done well in the ’90s, but it is about 10 years too late here. Forget its unfortunate sexual politics, the constant emphasizing of the main character’s looks, the absurd love triangle, the plot just begging to be made into a movie in the vein of The Hunger Games or Divergent…this book is just not fun to read.

Tenley ‘Edgelord’ Lockwood writes angsty poetry when she isn’t fighting soldiers or mooning over Killian. On page 59 of Lifeblood, Tenley muses about the relative attractiveness of the spirits she is now one of.

“Is everyone I meet going to make me feel as if I fell off the tree and hit every branch?”

“… yes, spirits are flawless, there isn’t a can of dog food in the bunch,” answers a fellow spirit.

I get it. Sci-fi and escapism have a special appeal to young readers, especially now when the fabric of the universe seems almost torn asunder. The young adult consumers of young adult books don’t have a clear picture of what the future will look like. The power of science fiction is and has always been obvious to its fans.

To those thirsty consumers in the YA demographic, I say Terry Pratchett. Ursula K Le Guin. Tolkien. Go back to Harry Potter. Becky Chamber’s Wayfarers series. Ancillary Justice. Those are all thought-provoking books that don’t pull punches. Everlife…not so much.

Much has already been made of love triangles in YA fiction, so I will just say this. Tenley, our endlessly distractable yet mathematically inclined heroine (this creative feat an attempt to prove she isn’t like other pretty girls because she loves math and can do dangerous things with a spoon, never mind the fact that separating girls into categories is a hierarchy created to divide), is occupied with thoughts of romance when it isn’t rebellion. She isn’t like a single teenage girl I know. Or have ever known. Characters don’t need to be relatable or likeable or intelligent or rooted in reality or have a comprehensible perspective in order to be satisfying but surely at least one of those things would be nice.

In terms of diversity, at a time when YA lit is spreading its wings, Everlife chooses to huddle in the shadows of its white heterosexual heroine.

There is great teen sci-fi out there. This isn’t it.

Next: The New Books Roundup, Feb. 28

Lifeblood will be available for purchase on February 28, 2017.