Cover Image: The First Sister

The First Sister

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this one a lot! Reminded me of a mix of Altered Carbon and Red Rising with its own Twist. This first book really set the stage for a great series and I can’t wait for the second book.
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This was pitched as space opera with The Handmaid’s Tale, and that’s not inaccurate though it is aspirational. One main character is a silent Sister (they are silenced so that they can just listen to and support the soldiers who use them for confession and sexual access, which is generally described but not specifically depicted), while another is a fighter on the opposing side, whose own regime turns out to have its share of horrific tortures and injustices. It was a bit too crapsack world for me even though there is clearly some hope at the end.
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I really wanted to like this book but was unfortunately left wanting. The prose was beautiful and I thought Linden A. Lewis handled some tough topics with a lot of grace. 

I just could not get into the story of the First Sister. While I felt a lot of empathy for her, and I certainly wouldn't want to be in her shoes, she just felt a little wishy-washy as a character. 

I loved Lito and Hiro's portion of the story though. How horrible would it be to have to kill someone who meant so much to you at one point in your life? Hiro was also just kind of a badass and I liked that. 

I'm hopeful for the sequel and I do want to see where this story goes.
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Reading this book was intense. So much was going on and the plots tied together well. I don't usually read SFF so I  was a little confused at times but it didn't take away from the overall story. 
The Sisterhood was a little weird with all the sex slave business but the First sister as a character was great. I liked her fire and defiance. I love what the author did with Ringer and makes me excited to see the First Sisters mental state in the next book. Lito had the more action packed chapters but balanced well with is bond with Hiro and his sister Luce. I looked forward to Hiros perspective the most. He was amusing and serious when he needed to be. I really enjoyed all the twist and turns, thinking about who to trust.
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DNF at 40%, I couldn't get invested in the characters or figure out the politics. I might pick it up again in the future, but it was not grabbing me.
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CW// Racism (Fictional Race), PTSD (From Past War), Mentions of Child Abuse, Implied Rape, Non-Consensual Surgery, Death, Gore, Graphic Injuries, Prostitution.

TW// Some Enbyphobia, Misgendering, Mentions of Gender Dysphoria.

QUEER SPACE OPERAS ARE MY NEW FAVOURITE GENRES OF BOOKS. The First Sister is exactly the kind of Sci-Fi I enjoy, and I honestly wish I read it sooner. From the fantastic plot to the intriguing world-building, there is absolutely nothing about this book I didn’t enjoy!  

Sometimes Sci-Fi books favour character development over the aspect of the book that’s crucial to the Sci-Fi genre: world-building. But this book blends the two perfectly. The author uses the society they created to influence the characters’ personalities, while simultaneously introducing readers to their world with perfect descriptions describing each new location, allowing such vivid imagery to be imagined by readers, all while we discover more and more about our characters. 

The world that Lewis created was quite complex: Humanity has split themselves into two groups, the Geans (those who live on Earth and Mars) and the Icarii (those who live on Mercury and Venus); there was a great war over the dwarf planet Ceres, and there were new technologies introduced, including all sorts of spaceships and blasters. Included in the technologies was something called a neural implant, which really caught my attention. A person can use it to alter their emotions, among other things. Lewis even included some advertisements on the side effects of a neural implant, making the world seem even more realistic and engaging. There were also some Greek mythological aspects embedded in the history of this society and as a fan of myth, the comparisons between the original myths and their meanings in the book were fun to uncover. 

Despite all the fiction and completely unrealistic aspects of the book, Lewis chose not to stray too far from realistic human behaviour, by which I mean that they included some of the bad parts of humanity (which are crucial to the story). Even in the middle of an intergalactic war, humanity still has the time to be incredibly racist, misogynistic, and sexist. I thought it was particularly interesting to see how the author implemented racism in the story, as so much of the discrimination against Asters (fictional race) mimicked the racism and xenophobia that can be seen in real life.  

The plot was well-paced. Lewis took their time establishing the plot, giving readers time to dive into the world they created. Every part of the world mentioned in the book was an essential part of the plot and by the second half of the book, everything came together perfectly and already formed the basis of the sequel. This is definitely one of those books that I can read over and over again without getting bored because the plot is just that good. Also, as someone with a plot twist addiction, I can tell you that you will be very surprised when the realisation hits you! 

You know the author’s a good writer when a relationship between two characters is established only in two chapters and you have already fallen in love with them (Lito and Hiro, I’m talking to you!). Lewis effectively personalises our characters from the first glance, and I knew that as that as the book progressed, I would only grow to love them and their relationship even more. Speaking of Hiro, I WOULD SELL MY SOUL FOR THEM. Enough said. I could honestly go on and on about what I loved about each character for days, I might need a part two for this review! 

If you like space and space operas and enjoy very Sci-Fi – heavy books, do yourself a favour and buy this book! The sequel is coming out this year and I’m ready and waiting to sit down and read it all in one go, I need to see these characters again! 

Thank you to Skybound Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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This story had me hooked from the beginning. The multiple POVs/POV switching was annoying at times (when a chapter would end in a cliff hanger!) but also kept me reading well past my bedtime. I could not put this book down. 

I was not prepared for the plot twist/reveal towards the end, so big kudos to the author for that awesome surprise. I didn't find this to have much info dumping at all, in fact I would have liked to learn more about the society and technology, but at the same time really appreciated the time taken to develop the characters. I truly cared about the MCs and wanted them to succeed. I will definitely continue this series!
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Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an ARC copy of this book (despite it being published last year).

Look, I'm going to be straight with you: I loved this book. I loved the world it created, the characters it gave you (some more than others, but ain't that always the way?), the ethical and moral issues it presented, and the plot twists. Most of which I didn't see coming, by the by, which is always lovely.

I enjoyed the way the book is structured, how you skip POVs, and I really enjoyed the transcript parts of the story! I could almost feel (view spoiler)'s voice in my head as they revealed their side of the story bit by bit. It created an addictive narrative, that twined the three of them together just enough to keep you interested in a. their individual stories and b. exactly how those stories connected and what would happen.

I enjoyed the climax, where everything came together, revelations were made (and had) and plot twists were revealed. At the same time decisions had to be made about the future, so a part of me was left curious about what would happen next.

I enjoyed the political intrigue, the world building and how you learn in increments exactly what's going on. Worldbuilding is often a tricky part, because it's a fine balance between giant infodump (which isn't very engaging because: show, not tell) and limited information which leaves you unable to really connect to the world. Linden A. Lewis walked that balance marvellously.

And most especially, I enjoyed the characters. All of them had distinct personalities, depth and character growth, down to the people on the sidelines of the actual story.

Altogether these things created a story and a world that are rich and deep, with characters you can relate to, issues you can understand and a story that keeps you captivated. A+, would (and probably will) read again.
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This book was spectacular and that is something coming from someone who doesn’t read sci-fi often. I loved how diverse it was in terms of adding characters of different gender identities and sexualities. The writing style of this author is quite literally out of this world and it was so descriptive without doing too much. The plot was fast paced and THE CHARACTERS WERE AMAZING!

Hiro was definitely my favorite character by far. They were well-written and a bad-ass that I couldn’t help but love them. Their snarky comebacks were probably some of the most entertaining parts of the book. 

The First Sister (who is bi) is probably the character that I related to the most. She’s everything I want to be and the cottage core princess aesthetic is how I imagined her.

Lito was so much fun to read about and was such a complex and well written character.

My main regret for this book is that I read it as an ARC because I already know that I would have binged this series in one day.
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I'm sure there are readers who would absolutely love this but, unfortunately, I'm just not one of those readers. This is a fairly character driven sci-fi and I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. 

If you prioritize inclusion in your spec fiction, give it a shot! Maybe you'll have a connection I didn't.
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Rating 5 out of 5 stars

In my past I haven't read a lot of science fiction and I was looking to change that. I saw this cover and was immediately intrigued - I hope the rest of the genre can compare to this masterful creation because now I am hooked! However, I do find it to be quite rude that I have to wait until August 2021 for the sequel. Especially considering the way this book brought me through an emotional whirlwind, continuously slapping me with twists and turns, I hope Linden Lewis is ready for this therapy bill because this book had no mercy on my soul.

I’m kind of in shock. I mean I’ve read some gems this year, but I haven’t read a lot of science fiction, especially not adult science fiction and this books deserves a standing ovation. Something that completed surprised me and helped me decide to give this book five stars, was the fact that I can usually foreshadow major events and in this book I honestly didn’t even fathom the possibilities and my mind was reeling.

Also, can we talk about the representation in this book for a second, because it was flawless. I mean the main languages in this world are English, Spanish, and Mandarin. We have a non-binary Japanese MC, a latine MC, and a orphan girl who has been through the ringer. There’s a lot of commentary that can be attributed to nationalism and racism, misogyny and the violation of bodies. Also, neurodivergent commentary and mental illnesses also manifest in a slightly unique (to me) manner. The LGBTQ+ rep is immaculate, but definitely want to say be mindful there is some serious body dysmorphia so be aware if that’s a trigger for you. Honestly, just check trigger warnings all around because this book does deal with some pretty heavy stuff. I mean this book was likened to The Handmaid’s Tale x Red Rising x The Expanse and that feels like a pretty accurate depiction.

If this book wasn’t already on your radar please add it and then we can discuss and scream about it together. I am impatiently awaiting the sequel now and I'm praying that my favorites get to smile, at least on occasion.
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This book was spectacular and that is something coming from someone who doesn’t read sci-fi often. I loved how diverse it was in terms of adding characters of different gender identities and sexualities. The writing style of this author is quite literally out of this world and it was so descriptive without doing too much. The plot was fast paced and THE CHARACTERS WERE AMAZING!

Hiro was definitely my favorite character by far. They were well-written and a bad-ass that I couldn’t help but love them. Their snarky comebacks were probably some of the most entertaining parts of the book. 

The First Sister (who is bi) is probably the character that I related to the most. She’s everything I want to be and the cottage core princess aesthetic is how I imagined her.

Lito was so much fun to read about and was such a complex and well written character.

My main regret for this book is that I am now reading it as an ARC because I already know that I would binge this series in one day.
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Tha is to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. 

As advertised, The First Sister is reminiscent of Handmaid’s Tale with its portrayal of women in submission.  First Sister is a nameless, voiceless women whose sole job is to provide “comfort” and confession to the men on her ship. She and the rest of the Sisters are controlled by Aunties and the Mother who are power hungry and manipulative. 

The secondary story is about Lito, a man who has crawled his way to the top and is trying to prove himself.  He is a man that must come to terms with the betrayal of his best friend while at the same time is piecing together parts of a larger puzzle. 

I enjoyed how these two stories came together, though one major plot twist seemed almost a little bit cliche... 

Aside from that, the themes of the story are very relevant to our current times. A group of people who are reviled by the locals, who are literally the native resident a fact that no one cares to acknowledge or remember? The idea of the government and science experimenting on people in poverty just because they have a limited voice and/or the desperate need for money to survive... all sounds quite familiar? At the same times I didn’t feel like any of these themes were addressed with a heavy hand. They naturally flowed in this sci-fi imagining of the future. 

Overall, a good read and I’m ready for the second in this trilogy to be released.
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What I liked the most about The First Sister is that the book has awesome representation and diverse characters, It felt very natural and was very well done.

Unfortunately I didn't enjoy the plot very much, It changed a bit towards the end, where things started to happen and it ended up being one hell of a ride. 

I will definitely read the next book, I am very curious where will the author  take the characters next.
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This was such an imaginative, fun space opera.  It's hard for me to find a space opera that I truly love for being original and daring.  I can't wait for the next book!
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An absolutely incredible, fresh and new sci-fi world featuring fantastic diversity and representation. Exactly what I've been waiting for in the science fiction genre, and so cinematic I could easily see this translated to a big (or small) screen.
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First, thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me access to review this title. The world building in this book is phenomenal, though feels familiar. The characters are well  well written and the inner dialogues are entrancing. All that said, this is a slow building read. I almost dnf’d the book in a couple of instances but I’m thrilled to report that all the building made sense in the end and the last third of the book is phenomenal!
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A mark of a good book: my dog collapsing in the entry way once we get back from a walk because I was so sucked into the story that we went at least 2 km farther than we normally do.

For real though, this book was so utterly riveting. It has some fabulous Handmaid's Tale vibes in space with great promise for political intrigue and growing rebellions. The ending is jaw-dropping, with several plot twists that sent my mind absolutely reeling. This was not a predictable novel at all. These characters are so interesting as well! They truly carry the story on their shoulders from opposing sides of the spectrum and I still don't know who I like best. I received an ARC of this last year but decided to read the audiobook, and that was an excellent decision. The three narrators had me making excuses to keep listening because their voices were so engaging, and they captured this diverse, queer cast beautifully.

As you may have guessed, this book is told in three POVS.

First Sister
She has such a heartbreaking tale as a priestess of the Sisterhood, the religion of the Gaen people. The Sisterhood is an oppressive and silencing organization, quite literally. Each Sister has her voice removed and is forbidden to write or communicate in any way with anyone outside of the Sisterhood. The purpose of this is that whatever is "confessed" to them is kept in the strictest confidence. And if a confessing sinner needs a different way to assuage their guilt *cough* sex *cough*, a Sister must oblige. But hey, as First Sister she gets privileges, like only the ship captain can have their way with her. Their bodies do not belong to them at all, and it's so sad.

Right off the bat, we sympathize with First Sister. She is finally leaving the ship to live planetside with Captain Arturo, but her dreams are crushed when Arturo leaves without her and she is faced with a new captain, Saito Ren, to gain favour with so she can remain First Sister. Following her journey with Ren, the discoveries she makes about the Sisterhood and herself, they were probably the most interesting part of the book. It leaves a lot of ground to cover in the sequel that I know I will enjoy.

Lito val Lucius
Lito is a man adrift. He is one half of a pair of duelists, elite soldiers bonded by an implant chip that connects their emotions, suppresses pain, etc. Only, Lito's other half is missing after a devastating battle, and he's not too sure what to do with himself without Hiro. This of course only gets worse when he learns that Hiro is a traitor and he is tasked with assassinating both Hiro and the head of the Gaen religion.

I really liked Lito as a main character. Sometimes nothing makes a character more intriguing than their underdog story and what they will do to cling to the success they literally fought tooth and nail for. In Lito's case, he worked his ass off to rise out of the slums and an abusive family to give his sister a better life and find a new family with Hiro. His storyline delves into the possibility of rebellion, and while I didn't find it quite as interesting as First Sister's, I can't wait to see where it goes.

Hiro val Akira
Their tale unwound a little differently than the other two. As Lito is tasked with killing Hiro, we are often left wondering what the heck happened? As such, their story is told through a series of recordings sent to Lito. The recordings give us a lot of background information on their's and Lito's relationship and their upbringing with the military, as well as their childhood. Hiro certainly comes across as a spoiled brat in the beginning, having grown up with great wealth and a famous family, but there are some ghosts in the Akira family closet. The biggest plot twist absolutely belongs to them and how they disappeared. I have a few feelings about it that I don't quite know how to put into words, but please know I tripped while walking when it was revealed.

For as much as I enjoyed this, it did lack in some areas. I would have enjoyed seeing so much more of this world. Half of it is set on a space ship but we don't see space. It's a very limited sci-fi in terms of the scope of setting, and I found that somewhat disappointing. I also would have liked a little more clarity on the history of the opposing forces and the move from Earth. Perhaps it was because I read the audiobook, but I still feel quite foggy on which planets are "inhabited", who holds which planet, and what the deal is between each force and their antagonism with the other. It kept me at arms' length in a few respects and prevented me from fully appreciating it.

I stumbled upon this book by accident, but please know I will be getting my hands on the sequel the first chance I get.
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Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis is sci-fi novel set in a galaxy far, far away with plenty of LGBT representation.  I have been hearing about this book everywhere, so I was so excited to see it available to review on NetGalley!  

The story revolves around First Sister, a nun in a Sisterhood that is not allowed to speak, so they have to communicate using hand signals. At the beginning of the novel, First Sister is betrayed by a Captain who promised to take her away.  A new Captain Saito Ren is looking for a partner, and First Sister has to earn her trust or she will be demoted from her position.  

Here is an excerpt from Chapter One that explains the Sisterhood: 

"Much luck in your future, she signs in the hand language reserved for the Sisterhood by law. 
I'm so surprised by her gesture it takes me a moment to respond. Thank you, I sign at last 
This is our sole method of communication, we Sisters, because we are not allowed to write and we cannot speak."

Although there were two points of view in this book, I found First Sister's to be more interesting.  The relationship that develops between her and Saito Ren is a highlight of the book. 

Here is an excerpt of one of their "conversations" from Chapter Fifteen:

"Beautiful, I say again with no voice.
'Even as ugly and twisted as I am? Even with these metal limbs that cannot feel?'
Beautiful, I say once more."

Another highlight of this book is how much PoC and LGBT representation there is.  Both of the POV's are by queer protagonists; First Sister has both male and female love interests, Lito is Spanish-speaking, and Hiro is Japanese-speaking.  Although this is very exciting, I found the story harder and harder to keep track of and understand as it got to halfway mark.  I enjoyed the first half, but then I lost track of the names of characters and their planets/political affiliations.  I don't typically read sci-fi though, so this is probably my problem, not the book's. 
Overall, The First Sister is a very exciting sci-fi novel, and I recommend it for all fans of the sci-fi genre.
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Since humans first expanded to the planets around them hundreds of years ago, the Gaens of Earth and Mars have been warring with the Icarii of Venus and Mercury. The Gaens want the Icarii to share some of their resources, while the Icarii just want the Gaens to drop their crazy religion and allow the Icarii technology to take root in Gaen culture (and subsequently further enrich the Icarii). Against this backdrop, Icarii warrior Lito sol Lucius sets out on a new mission to upset the Gaens on Ceres (which Lito was unsuccessful in keeping in Icarii hands), with a strange new partner and plenty of pressure. Meanwhile, the mute and nameless First Sister of Gaen warship Juno finds herself unexpectedly dealing with a new captain, who is not at all what she expected. It seems inevitable that First Sister and Lito's paths will collide, but how?

This book, the first in a planned trilogy, sets up some interesting ruminations on war, peace, religion, identity, and humanity, which is quite a feat. But Lewis manages it admirably, with complex and appealing characters, as well as some truly surprising plot twists. I look forward to seeing what happens next.
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