Cover Image: The First Sister

The First Sister

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I tried to start this a couple of times. I kept re-downloading it because I was really interested, but I could never fully get into it so I had to DNF it. I do think that I'll pick it up again at some point.

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Trapped. That’s a word that I kept returning to while reading this adventure. An adventure in space. It is full of larger than life characters , with back stories of struggle and triumph. Here is a story that offers a look into different realms complete with rules and limitations. Once you are here you immerse yourself not unlike CS Lewis and Narnia.

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I truly enjoyed the writing and world building of this novel. Often with sci-fi, books load up on world building so heavily out of the gate that for someone who isn't a constant reader of sci-fi, it's incredibly hard to keep up. However, in The First Sister, I found myself easily understanding the ins and outs of the world I was reading. Every scene was easy to visualize and immerse myself into, and this was helped by the way I grew attached to many of the characters and wanted to learn all I could about them.

If I have any critique, it would be that the last 20% of the book or so left me wishing that all of the themes present in this novel were examined even deeper. The pacing towards the end, as well as the ending in general, felt very surface level and not completely satisfying.

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I wanted this to work for me so much. This really should be right up my alley. But it just failed to engage me on so many levels.
This sci fi follows the stories of First Sister, a member of a religious sect in the society that encompasses Mars and Earth. The sisters are forced into ‘blessing’ men during wartime, which they are in with the other planetary group of Mercury and Venus who are more technologically advanced and worship science. Lito is a member of an elite fighting squad for this group and is assigned to track down and eliminate his former partner, Hiro, who has apparently turned traitor.
The ideas, setting, and diversity in this book really is a powerful draw and SHOULD have been enough for me to enjoy it but…
This book felt unedited. I know this makes me sound like a grammar stickler but really its almost never a problem for me. I never notice syntax and grammar and whatever. I mean, look how I write. Its barely strung together sentences! But I could pick up this book at almost any random page and feel like I would see a clunky sentence. I found myself rereading sentences to understand exactly what it was saying. This obviously created a flow problem for me and was super frustrating. I think this was the biggest snag for me and obviously affected my enjoyment for the entire book. If you don’t mind how its written its other sins might be more easily glossed over.
I had a problem with the story telling. We get multiple perspectives which I am not a general fan of anyways. One of the perspectives is from Hiro and is supposedly a recording they left for their partner Lito. Lito listens to this as the story progresses. Except…as a recording it makes zero sense. Hiro speaks in a way that makes absolutely no sense, recapping entire scenes in detail that Lito was there for. It seems as if Lito is listening along with us as we go along with the story but then near the end, he makes it clear that he had knowledge from the next ‘recording’ that we just read when he had ZERO time to actually listen to it. So did he listen ahead? Does he have more knowledge than we do? But then that doesn’t make any sense because he is still asking questions in the last few chapters that he would have known if he listened to the next chapter. I was totally lost.
The multiple perspectives dilutes the story as well. I feel like it should have picked a character to focus and develop because the splitting our time lead to both of them feeling like half a person. Both stories are theoretically interesting and compelling but neither got the focus they needed to be built up correctly. First Sister and Saito Ren’s relationship especially felt underdeveloped and like something that just happened.
Some plot points seem to fully rely on the main characters or villains being stupid in order for them to occur. Which is never really fun.
Overall, this was disappointing but maybe others can enjoy it more than I did? The writing was really jarring for me and totally made everything feel sluggish in the story. The world building and character concepts were really cool though so it got me through the whole book.

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The first time I read this book was actually outside of NetGalley, but I loved it so much, I decided to hype it up here. See, the thing is when it comes to science fiction, you never see more than the white man's gaze because the male-dominated platform makes everything an expected series. While there are aspects of "First Sister" that we're bound to see before, it's to not that Lewis brings a lot of diversity with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+.

I've been pushing the "First Sister" agenda since I got my hands on it last year and was so privileged to have finished reading it before the release of "Second Rebel" (which is still sitting on my desk about to make me cry). Lewis brings to life the intricate perspectives and timelines to intercede and connect with ease. Their storytelling abilities legitimately makes it feel like you can envision everything within this vast world and the rich laws, politics, and religious attributes that makes "First Sister" what it is.

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This is a fascinating amalgam and interplay of power and conflict twisted by religion that's based on holy comfort women and race that has been altered to better fit a specific environment. The conflicts play out over power and control using religion and technology. It is a space opera with interesting character development and plot twists that come together for both a satisfying ending as well as leaving you with tantalizing hints about the next book in the series. All in all an excellent read.

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This book is a JOURNEY.

It has intense politics, strong relationships between characters, deep backstories, twists and turns like you wouldn't believe!

I often feel intimidated by adult sci-fi and fantasy, but whenever I read a book like this it encourages me to read more. The depth of the intrigue was incredible, and I want to keep reading books like this.

My one criticism is that the pacing was a bit uneven. It felt like we were building up and building up and then all of a sudden it was the climax and the book was over! I would like liked more hills and valleys than just the slow upward trajectory.

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The first sister by Linden A Lewis is a handmaids tale meets sci-fi, with POC and queer characters. It follows the first sister, a mute girl who doesn’t know her own name and was forced into this life. She is what is called a priestess of the sisterhood. Her life consists of travelling with soldiers of Mars and Earth - but these soldiers also own her. In a attempt tp escape this lifestyle, she strikes a deal with a captain. This captain soon leaves her and she is on her own, with no friends or power. But when a new captain arrives-Saito Ren, the first sister is ordered to spy on them.

Lito val Lucius, is a elite soldier of Venus, he climbed his way up the ladder from living in the slums. Due to unfortunate cirumstances, Lito is defeated by Saito Ren in battle and a consequence of this is Lito’s partner, Hiro going missing. However, Lito soon learns that Hiro is alive, and a traitor. Lito is now tasked to hunt his former partner down and kill him.

This book is different because it spins the handmaids tale element into a thriller-like story, making it very exciting, spinning between the different pov’s. But the author makes it work very well.

I highly recommend this! It took many unexpected turns, which i love in a book.

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overall an excellent start to a new scifi trilogy, the characters are well developed, but I wish we got more background on the different cultures (ie: gean/icarii), we know why the gean hate tech and gene modification but where does the sisterhood come from?
a little annoyed that the non binary character ended up being forced to conform to gender stereotypes and gender rolls

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The First Sister takes place centuries after the destruction of Earth, and focuses on the conflict between the Geans – who have colonised Mars and live in a military theocracy, priding themselves in keeping the ‘natural’ ways associated with Earth – and the Icarii – who have colonised Venus and Mercury and developed superior technology only available to them. I was hesitant to pick this up at first because Sci-Fi sometimes can confuse me, but I was riveted from the start. It's unique, interesting, and tense. The world is incredibly well developed, and I understand each character's motivations. Definitely one of the better sci fi books I've read this winter!

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WHOA. I was immediately hit in the gut with this read. You feel so deeply for the characters. I was never a huge sci fi fan but this book has changed the game for me. I expect to hear a lot about it in the upcoming years!!

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While I love sci-fi movies and tv shows, I have always had a hard time getting into sci-fi books. That's why this was such a pleasant surprise for me. This is a smart and engagingly written space opera that addresses gender, prejudice, political and religious corruption, and reclaiming bodily autonomy.

I did find that there were some pacing issues but overall it's extremely enjoyable. I'll be picking up the second book.

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E-book arc provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGalley for an honest book review.

Trigger Warnings ⚠️: (not inclusive)
* Amputation
* Mention of Child abuse
* Death
* Execution
* Experimentation
* Mental illness
* Sexual abuse
* Violence



First, have you seen how gorgeous this cover is? It’s hard to see this cover and not to hit ‘Want to Read’!
I’ve read this through ebook and audiobook, which definitely made the reading experience even better. Not to mention how good it was that I’ve binged reading this in one day!

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis is a story that mainly follows two points of view. The First Sister, a priestess of the Sisterhood in Juno, an Icarii warship that the Gean have seized a year age. And Lito sol Lucius, an Icarii soldier, a Rapier to his Dagger, Hiro val Akira, that have gone to a mission and haven’t seen them since.

The First Sister, has no name nor a voice, and wants out of Juno to live a peaceful life, and was supposed to leave with her Captain, only to be abandoned by him. Not only leaving her alone there, but also risking her position as The First Sister, and the safety that comes with it. Later, she is assigned by Mother to spy on her new Captain, Saito Ren, breaking her oath and risking her life, because if she’s caught, she will be the one who takes the blame.

Lito sol Lucius, who barely recovered from his last mission with his partner Hiro, is now given two assignments, first he must finish Hiro’s assignment and assassinate the Mother, who is a religious leader of Gean. The second assignment, which is the most difficult one, he must find his partner Hiro, who he found out was in fact a traitor, and kill them.. Now he is torn between following his orders or his heart.



“Like Icarus, our forefathers flew close to the sun. But unlike our mythological predecessor, the scientists aboard the Icarus who seeded Mercury and, eventually, Venus, were aware of their mortality and the necessity of a future protected by those who understood peace. It was peace that split us from Earth and Mars, and it is peace that will guide us on our path through the stars.”

I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did! it was a pleasant surprise. And the ending!! I definitely didn’t see these twists coming!
I absolutely enjoyed the author’s writing style, it was very engaging and captivating.

I enjoyed how detailed the world building was. It a futuristic sci-fi of our universe, where humans have expanded into some of the other surrounding planets. Leading humanity to split into two; Geans, who live mainly on Earth and Mars, and Icarii, who are known for their advanced technology and thrive on Mercury and Venus.

However, I must admit the world building felt confusing at times and it was hard to keep up with. I would love to learn more of the history and background of the world in the rest of the series since it seems very intriguing!



“I wish I had known that throwing away your life for peace is so much harder when you are in love.”

“”If we lose ourselves, at least we’ll lose ourselves together.””

“”No matter what happens to me, I will shield you.””

The characters are well written and were very lovable. I loved how diverse they were. Not to mention how adorable (and heartbreaking) the romance was.
I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters further more.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and I will probably continue with the series! .

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Although I was very excited to read this book I was unable to connect with any character and found it very difficult to finish. The pros of this book are the writing style, it was easy to understand. And the representation in this book is also great.

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FIVE STARS BABY!!

Completely unexpected as this was 100% a cover buy for me (look at that stunning art OKAY). I loved this book so much, and days later I am still thinking about it??....

So my recommendation for this one would be if you're a fan of The Red Rising series or Leviathan Wakes, but want something a little more low key... *insert The First Sister* The POV writing also reminded me of Black Sun, so if you're a fan of that writing style I recommend this book to you too.

This book follows three MCs- one a priestess, one a soldier, and the last a rogue agent. In this space opera (sounds daunting. but I promise it's not), everyone is connected in such interesting ways and the plot twists are STUNNING!! My mouth literally dropped open multiple times. I absolutely loved the world, loved the tech, loved the characters- and found this to be a complex plot, yet easy to understand and picture in my head.

Overall, this was such a fun time, and I can't wait to read the next book!! I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. There is LGBTQIA+ rep, as well as prosthetics rep, mental health rep and I just loved it all so dang much.

xx
-Christine

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Some good space politics. Character development was good, had some unexpected twists. Not the best I've ever read but a good story.

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The First Sister is the first book in a grand space opera trilogy by Linden A. Lewis. Released in 2020 by Simon & Schuster on their Gallery Books imprint, it's 352 pages and is available in most formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately; it makes it so easy to find information with the search function.

This is classic science fiction on a grand scale. It hearkens back to old school SF, unafraid to explore social themes such as power, loyalty, humanity, body autonomy, conflict, and grace. I've seen this book being compared to The Handmaid's Tale, but I got much more of a Frank Herbert Dune vibe with shadings of Shari Tepper. One thing I really liked about the book was the LGBTQ+ friendly writing with positive portrayals of a variety of gender identities and sexualities.

The writing is sublime and it held my attention and engagement throughout. Thematically it's not always easy reading and readers should be aware that the author explores uncomfortable themes such as nonconsensual sexual exploitation, child abuse, loss of body autonomy, PTSD, violence, and gender dysphoria. I was glad to see, however, that there was -no- glorification or positive spin on abuse or sexism - but more of an expository examination of what could be changed to make a better outcome. There is very little on-page abuse - it's implied, but it is there.

The author has a deft and sure voice and it certainly doesn't feel like a debut novel at all. The adult themes, although not explicit in the narrative, would make me hesitate to recommend this book to YA/NA readers.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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I found the plot to be perfectly paced and the world grew and developed as the story went on. The characters were interesting and complex and their different dilemmas gave nice layers to the story. As the book goes on there are lots of twists and new developments and you never knew what to expect. An absolutely thrilling and dazzling sci-fi novel in other words!

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Voiceless women who fight each other for position, a disgraced soldier unjustly charged with losing a battle, and a missing son of the elite: these are the protagonists in Linden A. Lewis’s gripping drama placed centuries in the future. Each character is distinct and has a fascinating character arc, and the plotting moves at the perfect place, with unexpected twists which make sense as revealed.

Humanity has split into two groups. The Geans, on Earth and Mars, are ruled, at least in a large part, by the Sisterhood, a religious group which gives some women power by serving up their sisters as confessors and prostitutes to the military. The Icarii split away from Earth, no longer wanting to be involved in an endless war, and settled on Mercury and Venus (yes, there’s a magic element found on one of the planets that explains how that’s possible). The former are considered militant; the latter are technocrats who have manipulated their genes to survive, creating a separate species of humanity.

As is so often the case in the best science fiction, the postulated world reveals insights into our own, showing how both theocracies and technocracies can go wrong, showing how they impact the lives of the powerless. If that doesn’t appeal to you, it’s a great story as well, and I strongly recommend checking out this amazing book.

To be published later this month on Bibliostatic.com.

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I was given a free e-copy of First Sister by Linden A. Lewis (author), Skybound Books, and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. The First Sister is the first in the First Sister Trilogy, and The Second Rebel, second book in the trilogy, was published in 2021.

This review will be spoiler free.

I would characterize First Sister as a space opera that includes a rebellion.

The world building is a strength in this novel. Ms. Linden illustrates the circumstances of the rebellion which occur in the background in this story that add layers of complexity to the plot and emotional depth and motivation to the characters. Ms. Linden does not go into great detail with the world building but just enough to provide necessary information and not too much where it becomes an info-dump.

Another strength of the novel are the characters. There are three main characters with two being depicted in the present and the third being depicted in the past. Each of the three main characters are unique, engaging, and fully developed. One of the main characters does not talk nor write and Ms. Linden shows how this character can still communicate and convey emotion. Another main character is sent on an intelligence mission to quell a potential rebellion while he is reminiscing about his former partner who may have joined the rebellion.

The first two-thirds of this novel is engaging, immersive, the story continues to move forward, and the flashback adds depth to the story.

The last third of the novel, unfortunately, is where the story bogs down and slows to a crawl due to more telling and less showing. I thought the ending was too abrupt and did not flow as smoothly as the beginning and middle. It also felt the ending was more of a set up for the next novel in the series and not to conclude this story.

First Sister is an engaging story for most of the novel, and I would like to read Second Rebel because I am interested in the characters.

I rate First Sister 3 stars because of the ending.

I would like to thank Ms. Lewis, Skybound Books, and Net Galley for the free ARC.

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