“The prospect of being the human parts drawer society reaches into to cure its neediest patients would drive anyone mad.” – Kelsey Reed, Life First
Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to someone else.
She’ll need the help of her true love, Luke, to make this dangerous escape. This dystopian future Kelsey lives in was forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world’s population. Here, life is valued above all else. The mentally ill are sterilized, abortions are illegal and those who refuse to donate an organ when told are sentenced to death.
Determined not to give up her kidney or die, Kelsey and Luke enlists the help of a dodgy doctor to escape. The trio must disable the electronic tracking chip in Kelsey’s arm for her to flee undetected. If they fail, Kelsey could be stripped of Luke, her kidney and everything else she holds dear.
This page-turning thriller with a touch of romance, is the first in the Life First dystopian book series. The thrills and romance continue in our dystopian future in Second Life (book 2 of the series) and Third Life: Taken (book 3 of the series).
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“Life First is a poignant, riveting, thought provoking read that had me entranced from page one until the very end of the book.”
— 5 Stars, Griffin’s Honey Blog
“Life First gripped you like King Kong and would not let go until you had finished the book.”
"YA readers or those who don't mind a rather passive heroine might enjoy it."
Reviewer: Reader for Bookangel.
Kelsey lives in a society where young people have to donate organs if they match someone on the waiting list. Her number has come up, but rather than donate a kidney, Kelsey chooses a second option: fleeing the country. With the help of her boyfriend and family doctor she tries to get away, and then everything goes wrong...
I found Life First had a major problem: I'd read the Unwind series as well as an early sci-fi story handling the same issue and a Sliders episode and.... Given that in all those stories, a tissue match equalled death, and being asked to only donate a kidney was treated with huge relief and a get-out clause in one of them, it is hard to take her objections seriously.
It is a dystopia and the world-building is interesting as it moves further and further away from what initially seems something close to our own to something with science that is utterly alien, but I just couldn't get into it. Despite the worldbuilding, the lead character just fell flat for me, and as it is written in first person that is a problem.
Kelsey is, when it boils down to it, a passive heroine: she knows what she wants, but she leaves it up to other people to plan and manage for her. Other people plan her initial escape, when she's captured, other people arrange to get her out, and all she does is to go along with it. This isn't a woman who controls her own destiny and she doesn't even seem to care that other people are risking their lives to help her when hers is not at risk. I also really hated one plot point which I don't want to spoil but which really made the 'hero' her boyfriend look like an irresponsible... well, I had little liking left for him after that point (hint: if you might have given your girlfriend an out from something she is terrified of, not telling her because you think it will make her more stressed is stupid).
The characters didn't really appeal. While Kelsey may not have wanted to give up her kidney, she doesn't seem to consider the effects on people around her. Her boyfriend, an allegedly stand-up guy, fails to tell her that contraception failed - even knowing the effects on her organ donation... The whole plot is driven by Kelsey not wanting to donate a kidney, but she wants to do this with no consequences to her and doesn't really care about the effects on her family, friends, etc. She's not a conscientious objector, just rather self-centred , and she doesn't really seem to know much about the society where she lives.
The book club questions at the end actually raise some of these issues, but acknowledging them doesn't make it better for the reader. After that there are details of the next two books, Second Life and Third Life.
For me this is a three, but for anyone not familiar with Neil Shusterman's Unwind series, it might be higher. YA readers or those who don't mind a rather passive heroine might enjoy it. Rating:3
I'm feeling a little discouraged to read this particular book after reading your review, and I think that I'll give this one a skip. There is nothing I hate more than a heroine who leaves me feeling like I want to slap some sense into her at any point in the book.