Chanda Stafford’s First is a YA science fiction dystopian that explores the idea that one person’s life is worth valuing over another’s

Chanda Stafford’s First is a YA science fiction dystopian that explores the idea that one person’s life is worth valuing over another’s

Under this rather innocuous sounding summary is a rather horrifying premise.  I won’t ruin all the fun, but let’s just say that advances in science don’t sound so appealing once you really think about the ramifications.  This book reminded me of Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison.  They had similar concepts, so if you enjoyed one, chances are good you will enjoy the other.  I thought this book was the weaker of the two, but they both put a spin on the idea of immortality and privilege that I found engaging.


Goodreads Summary

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.
My Thoughts

I liked the concept of this story, and I thought the world that the author created is pretty intriguing.  Mira is a well developed character with a lot of internal conflict and external pressure shaping her choices.  The moral dilemma she faces comes across as troubling and real, and I honestly waffled on which way I would go if I had her decision in front of me.  Socrates is a less engaging character initially.  He has a view about his decision to take a second, and it is only over time that he begins to grow and change as a character that readers will care about.  I think this story creates a lot of room for discussion and debate, so it would be perfect for a small reading group.  I did think the story had a few flaws.  First, I quickly guessed what the big mystery was, and I think most readers will as well.  I think the book is designed to allow readers to make the leap of logic that Mira can’t on purpose.  I see exactly why the author chose to delay the reveal, but as a reader, I just felt that the mystery dragged on for too long.  I also had problems with the lack of action.  This is a thinking book, so that is to be expected, but I wanted more than the farm and a room at the Smith.  Neither of these were deal breakers for me – I still enjoyed the read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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