Cover Image: The First Sister

The First Sister

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Member Reviews

Great read! The author draws you in with detail that makes you want to read on. I love when books make you feel like you are part of the story.
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I want to start off by thanking the author, Skybound Books, and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and the final text might have changed.

I had high hopes for this book, and honestly it delivered!

Sci-fi has always been one of my favorite genres but that I criminally underread, for some reason. My shelf of sci-fi only takes a bit more than a shelf on my bookcases, whereas fantasy takes so many more. When I was accepted to review this ARC, I was excited to broaden my sci-fi reads even more, and I loved the diversity that this book seemed to promise.

The world that Lewis builds in this book has a history riddled with war, like many fantasy and sci-fi books. This book takes place in what could be considered the future, as many humans have fled Earth for Mercury, Mars, and Venus, and there have already been many wars that have resulted from advancements made (like sentient AI) and territorial disagreements. What Lewis does that is unique is the lack of a ‘good’ side in this war. We have a POV on both sides of the war, and in the end both characters are coming to terms with the atrocities that their side commits in the name of progress, victory, and religion. It allows more space for morality and choice to be explored, since there is no one true choice or group to side with. Everyone’s out for themselves, and it’s up to each character to individually decide if they’ll be selfish like everyone else or struggle for change. The truth of the crimes committed by each side also led to some fascinating twists that left me reeling in the last few chapters of the book, and has left me desperate for book 2.

Lewis also does a fantastic job of writing a layered, diverse cast with a variety of allegiances, backgrounds, and motivations. There’s First Sister, a woman who’s been stripped of her name and identity in order to better serve the Mother and her demands. There’s Saito Ren, a war hero turned captain who strives for peace. There’s Lito, a skilled swordsman who has lost his partner and his pride in one of his side’s biggest losses. And then there’s Hiro, child of one of their side’s largest financial supporters, a soldier turned traitor, who only speaks through a series of tapes left to their old partner, Lito. Together, they weave a story of war and allegiance that reveals the struggles of choice, and whether the good of one comes before the good of many. I loved all of these characters for very different reasons, and they kept surprising me as they grew along with the story, and made the hard choice when no one else would. I can’t wait to see where book 2 takes them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and can’t wait to see where this story goes from here!
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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

This book was so good! I cannot wait for the next one. It reminded me of Red Rising in a way, so if you liked those you will definitely like this one! I highly recommend it.
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Holy fucking shit, y'all. I know that's not the most eloquent way to start a review, but it's all I can manage until I'm able to pick up the pieces of my heart and brain and put them back together enough to write a full review. I just finished this ARC, but I plan to journey to the book store for my own hardcover copy in a few hours. Yes, I loved it that much.

Update: Book acquired, and wow, is that matte, embossed jacket gorgeous, or what?! Anyway, now that I'm a bit more coherent: I really appreciated both the explicit and casually queer rep in this book. I loved Hiro, my new all time favorite non-binary character, and had a major crush on most of the ladies. So good. The First Sister is also simultaneously a plot and character driven story, and Lewis balances those two aspects impeccably. I would definitely check out some content warnings before picking this one up, because there is a lot of heavy and potentially triggering content. Please read The First Sister, but read with care!

The First Sister was very easily a five star read for me! I do wish we'd gotten more of First Sister's POV, and I agree with other reviewers who say the ending might have been the weakest point of the book, but neither of those things were enough of an issue to negatively impact my rating. I will be very anxiously awaiting the next book in this trilogy!

This is one of the most discombobulated reviews I've ever written because The First Sister was very layered and complex, in the best possible way, and I feel like I'd need to write a doctoral thesis to touch on everything I loved about it. Maybe I'll be able to put all my thoughts on paper one day, but for now I'll just run around shouting Linden Lewis' praises from the rooftops!
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The excerpt from this leaves me wanting to read more. Consider my interest piqued.
A "Sisterhood" that seems to be nothing more than a space-travelling brothel cloaked behind rituals, scriptures, and tradition. Women who are voiceless, with a secret hand language, and are the property of whatever ship they belong to - and all the men (and women?) soldiers crewing it. The First Sister was promised a life of luxury accompanying her ship's captain into his retirement - a well kept mistress whom he would visit when his wife and children were too much. But, alas, he favored her while he was captain and left her at the docks, sailing off into space without her. Now, the First Sister is back on the ship where her previous position may have garnered her some resentment, and she starts again at the bottom of the pecking order with the rest of her sisters.
I find myself thinking of The Handmaid's Tale - though that may seem derivative to many people at this point - in space. I have so many questions about the formation of the Sisterhood, and the history of our ruined Earth that sent us into our solar orbit. I very much look forward to reading the book.
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A seriously fun space opera that would be good for people who enjoyed the Red Rising series. Fantastic world building, grey morality, political complexity and fantastic LGBTQIA representation make this and enjoyable read. I look forward to any future sequels.
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Y’all. I didn’t know it was a trilogy when I started, and now I have no clue what I’m going to do with my life until I can continue this story! I am so happy I got to read it and so sad that I have to wait for more. WHO PLANNED THIS?! Me. It was me.

This book is heavy. It’s an epic space opera with many characters, competing political objectives, and of course, lots of war between species. The book has three perspectives. The First Sister is a member of the order of the Goddess who receives confession, peps up the soldiers, and warms their beds whenever they want. Her station as First Sister, however, assures that her body belongs only to the captain. When her captain leaves, her position is in danger if she cannot win the favor of the new captain, Saito Ren. On a spy mission from the Mother of the order, First Sister becomes conflicted when she develops real feelings for Captain Ren.

Lito val Lucius, a soldier of Venus was beat by Seito Ren finds himself without his dead partner, Hiro, and when he discovers that Hiro was a traitor and still alive, he’ll have to make some tough decisions. Finally, Hiro, a nonbinary soldier who plays a bigger role than Lucius ever imagined, goes through hell, fighting for peace.

I ended up listening to this one on audio, and narrators Neo Cihi, Gary Tiedemann, and Emily Woo Zeller did an outstanding job. The voice changes really helped me keep all the factions and characters straight, and I loved that Hiro’s narration *sounded* NB. A little feminine, a little masculine. It fit the story perfectly.

It took me a bit to get into the story, because the worldbuilding is complex and the POV switch left me with so much to keep up with, but I enjoyed it overall, and once I got everyone straight, I was INVESTED. I couldn’t wait for the next chapter and was grumpy when I got interrupted. I devoured it in about 24 hours, and now I need more. I want to spend more time with these characters and see how the events of this story will affect their motivations and actions long term. Plus, I want to see how the war will play out.

It’s out now, so if you’re not too impatient to wait for new installments, you can read it now! I can’t 100% recommend that, but I do recommend reading it. It’s got rich, complex characters and an intricate, expertly-weaved plot with twists and turns as well as a dash of romance.
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I received a copy of this book from Skybound Books and NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

This book was so good! I love books with multiple POVs and this definitely didn't disappoint. The three main characters; First Sister, Lito, and Hiro, all have fantastic voices and none of their chapters dragged. The whole book flowed quite well throughout which really kept me engaged the whole time. 

This book had everything I look for in a good sci-fi. Great characters and fantastic world-building. I thought it may fall short since it sounded a bit complicated, but for such a big world, the characters didn't get lost in the descriptions because there was no convoluted info-dumping which would have dragged it down. 

Not only was this a good sci-fi, but it touched on some pretty important aspects of humanity. Even though the setting of this book was extremely far in the future, there still isn't harmony amongst all people. There are a few trigger warnings (rape, violence, etc.) but it didn't glorify them at all or even focus on them in prolonged scenes. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to people who are looking to read space opera-esque books but with a focus more on the characters rather than the space and science portion. It sort of reminded me of the Expanse series in the setting, but Linden A. Lewis took her story in a completely different direction and I loved it.
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I enjoyed this book.  I would recommend it to others and I would like to read more from this author in the future.
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The First Sister is a space opera, and I do want to talk more about those 2 words in particular later on, scifi that is very easy to navigate in fact I would actually consider this a really good beginner scifi if you are new to the genre. If you love scifi and read it frequently I don’t think this is going to be genre busting for you, not something that’s going to blow your mind but it is worth talking about from a couple different angles. And I think the first thing to do is to approach it just specifically as a scifi. It’s set in space, a few planets are mentioned here and there. Some advanced tech. It has a simple plot line that is effective and refined.

At the beginning your presented with a whirlwind of unknown intensity as a character named The First Sister, who is apart of this religious group that people look up to in this world, they can’t speak, they can’t write, they're forced to pleasure the subordinates so please be cautious of that going into this. 
She is packing all of her things on a military spaceship, saying goodbye to the sisterhood, because she believes she is leaving with the captain to live a life she’s always dreamed of. That doesn’t end up happening.

The second perspective we’re following is named Lito and he is actually apart of the enemy army and we’re introduced to him as he’s training children as punishment for failing a past mission which definitly seeds into a lot of what happens later on in the book. His partner has gone missing and is given the mission to find them.

This is a book that feels really strong right out of the gate but quickly the potential is lost amid the oppressive amounts of romance and lack of depth to anything. Nothing in this book made me think that what I was reading was deep or even space opera in any way and to sell it as Red Rising which is leagues and I mean leagues away from this book in terms of complexity and character definition, is an out right attack.

The world barely branches out to other parts of the universe. You’re told many places, you’re told a lot of cultures and histories and different types of orders, religions but I can name like 3 or 4 locations we actually get to visit in the book and that’s not space opera to me. The story is very linear, very few characters which again helps with it being an easy scifi to follow, but if you’re expecting Leviathan Wakes, Mass Effect, it’s nothing like that. Instead of promoting it a scifi space opera. It should have been promoted as a scifi romance so if you enjoy romance, you’re going to like this. If you don’t like romance, oh honey, it never leaves the room.
It is a queer romance I want to mention but how the romance begins, I found it really out of left field. It develops so quickly. It truly felt like and this is just an example, page 40, they meet, page 42, there in love so I felt zero connection between them because there wasn’t any feelings there to evolve.

This book does fall into the one perspective is far more interesting than the other category and for me that was The First Sister, I wish the book was only following her, I mean she’s the title of the book. Lito felt very out of place for me but I understand he had to be there for the plot to move But the potential for her character was totally lost. She’s very helpless. She relies too much on side characters. THERE decisions reflect upon the plot. Not hers. She’s just there being moved around like a chest piece.

I really don’t think this scifi brings anything new to the table. I don’t want to shit on the book because it is not a bad book. It isn’t. It’s competent and decent for the most part systemically speaking, some chapters give you a really good rush of adrenaline but it has nothing at all to say. By the end of it, it left me feeling very shortchanged. It’s a scifi that scratches a very specific itch and if you don’t have that itch, it is kind of excruciating. which is why about %50 of the way through I grew a bit tired of it. I just wanted more, more progression, more variation to the environments and characters. I can immensely appreciate the idea of the story and when things to ramp up combat wise, it was thrilling. Pacing and writing all great and maybe if it was written a few years ago, it’d be higher praised for me when I didn’t realize I hated romance to much but it lacked any kind of detail to be remembered.
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I knew. I kneeeeeew that when I read this book it would instantly become one of my favorite books. On one of those rare occasions where I dip my toes in the pool that is sci-fi, and enjoy myself because of this wonderful masterful harsh world that Lewis has created. 

I love the entire world-building element of the First Sister. It was so vivid and real. The different races and cities and attitudes were all so well crafted I just felt like I was there. 

The characters were memorable too. The First Sister, Lito, and Hiro were all quite amazing—though I will say Hiro Val Akira remains my favorite of the three protagonists with their sassiness. 

The First Sister was a realistic girl who anyone could relate to in her situation. She was afraid, she was cautious, and entirely unable to trust with good reason. A beautiful girl who led a harsh life and made the best of her situation. I loved her journey of discovering who she was and how to survive despite being let down, manipulated, and backed into a very tight corner by those who were above her.

Lito sol Lucius was the gay man I always wanted in a sci-fi adventure. Very to-the-books and stiff but still super queer and entirely head over heels for Hiro. I didn’t know how I would initially react to him, because despite being gay he wasn’t exactly interesting to start with. I did enjoy seeing the world from his perspective, but it wasn’t until he left on his mission to destroy the Mother that I truly started to dread his chapters coming to an end. 

I saved Hiro for last because my goodness. What a person they are. 

Also...SPOILERS from here on out. So leave if you haven’t read it. 

Hiro Val Akira is quite the person. You’re presented with someone who tells their life to Lito, and then of course you ship them because Lewis crafts such a wonderful feeling of longing between Hiro and Lito. Ugh. But also you grow to learn about Hiro and Lito before their current situation, and how they were together, and how Hiro felt the whole time and I just...couldn’t. I wanted them to reunite so badly. I feel like there were hints to Hiro being Saito, but I didn’t catch any of them 😂 because I was just zipping through his chapters much too fast. I loved his heavily Japanese background and I loved how Lewis even gives us some base level Japanese phrases, as someone who used to practice Japanese, I had a very fun time with that and it also contributed to the world-building in a very interesting way. Anyway, back to Hiro. I loved them. They were so uniquely crafted and then of COURSE Hiro is also SAITO REN. Like I mentioned that but I had to let that sink in. Holy shit. Besides that I really enjoyed their sassiness, and their resistance to all that was forced upon them. They literally middle-fingered every rule ever enforced upon them and I was so here for it.

Also another spoiler that’s INSANSE. Ringer not being real. What the FUCK I almost lost my mind. I can’t believe it was a result of The First Sister being broken. My goodness, what a twist. 


Anyway, I’m ded (not a typo but completely on our prose) where is book 2?!!!
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I didn't live for the plot twist in this book. I thinks it's a fine work of fiction but certain things about it also made me a bit wary. I'd say give it a show with the content warnings I'll list below in mind. 

Content Warnings: threats of sexual violence, child prostitution, gender dysphoria, non-consensual surgical procedures, human experimentation
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The First Sister is a space opera following three different perspectives: The First Sister, a priestess, and Lito and Hiro, former partners during a space war. 

The world-building was extensive and incredible. I felt immersed in the culture and different religions and beliefs. The characters were well-written with varied personalities and beliefs. At first, the three different perspectives don’t seem like they’re really connected, but I loved how beautifully it is revealed that they are. The representation in this book is amazing. Gender fluidity and sexuality are done in a way that is subtle but noticeable. 

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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(Giving up on star ratings, because they don't have an "it's complicated" option. I have to submit *something* as a star rating for Netgalley, though, so I'm sticking with a middle-of-the-road 3 stars even though it doesn't really reflect any of the nuance. Please read on.)

Happy book birthday, THE FIRST SISTER! Much of my review is an extended content and trigger warning, and I’m really quite serious about that, but I also don’t want to convey the sense that the book is not good in any way. Lewis is a gifted writer with a knack for world building and has put together what is essentially a double romance storyline without it coming off as saccharine or pinging my RED FLAG WARNNG brain sirens. That’s amazing in and of itself. Lewis has also managed to write a story employing what are essentially a religious order of sex workers (many of them sold into it, so be aware of that) without having to demonstrate its awfulness by way of a … gross or *gestures* demonstration of overwhelming sexual appetite. There are also some really fun ideas buried in here that are completely original, like the pair-bonded duelists and their coded-queer mental connection. SO cool.

However. That content/trigger warning? It’s not unimportant, as an enormous amount of the plot hangs together on it. If you are not keen on spoilers, please do NOT read my entire review on Goodreads, which has a spoiler tag in HTML I can use to hide the spoilers trigger. Suffice it to say, if you are intersex or nonbinary or belong to other queer identities with a history of non-consensual loss of agency, the warning on Goodreads is meant for you.

FULL WARNING: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3390492921

I am glad that someone has found a way to give an Atwoodish storyline the queerest of queer treatments, and I am always glad to see a queer author of great skill given a big imprint push in the publishing world. That’s awesome! And I’m sure there will be many readers who will not at all be bothered by what is absolutely devastating to someone like me, and not because they’re deliberately insensitive or anything. It’s just the kind of thing that comes from lived experience. 

I wish Linden the absolute best of luck in the rest of her series and whatever comes after.
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First Sister is one hell of a space adventure, no question about it. We get two stories in one for most of the book, in First Sister's perspective and that of soldier Lito. While their paths start off separately, we can assume from the start that they'll converge at some point, so I don't think that's particularly a spoiler. But at the start, these two couldn't be farther apart (physically and mentally speaking).

First Sister is, well, as the title suggests, a quasi-nun. The Premier Quasi-Nun, if you will. She's earned some favor among the powers that be, and as such, she's tasked with spying on new captain Saito Ren. Only, she finds that perhaps the Sisterhood isn't what she has thought it was, and maybe Saito Ren isn't the villain they're making her out to be.

Lito is having a rough time soldering on (pun absolutely intended) without his partner and incredibly close friend Hiro. Hiro's been missing since a big battle ensued, and Lito has basically been ordered to kill Hiro if he encounters them. I'm sure that will go well. The reader also gets little morsels of information from Hiro themselves, as they've left behind an audio recording for Lito to try to explain what has happened to them.

As you can see, the book is full of twists and excitement, and nothing is as it first appears. Therefore, I'll tell you no more. Best to go into this one not having any preconceived notions, just a basic understanding of who's who at the start. Then, you'll be in for quite the treat as the stories unfold and you begin to fall in love with the characters as I did.

There will be incredibly difficult choices, and a ton of character growth, and I loved watching it play out! My only minor qualms were a bit of a lull in the beginning-middle bit, but it was certainly not a huge deal considering I was already quite invested in the characters.

Bottom Line:  I adored the characters and adventure in this wonderful first installment. Exciting and meaningful, The First Sister is a win all around.
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I have to admit when I read the first chapter and found out it was about a group of women who did not have possession of their own bodies, I thought "Oh no, I just can't read this right now. I'm worn out from outrage." Thank god, I didn't stop there because this book was amazing. Told from three different point of views, you have a grand overlook at the different factions involved, with a unique voice for each section. Twists and turns that I never saw coming. This was so much fun and I can't wait for more!
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This was one of those stories where there were a TON of great concepts but the execution was messy. I started off reading this book excited but as it got further past half-way I felt my enthusiasm dimming due to some plot choices. That's not to say I disliked this book, I enjoyed it immensely there were just aspects I felt could have been written better.

The world created in this story was INCREDIBLY fascinating, I was immediately drawn in because who doesn't love a good space opera? Lewis starts off the story in all the right ways, there are vague references to world events to pique the reader's curiosity, the characters have compelling motives, and the politics are intriguing. However, the way these elements interact throughout the story felt very haphazard and under-developed.

The major world events stay vague and we rarely get much elaboration to help them make sense. Also, the politics are constantly changing and you can never tell what type of statement the author is trying to make while reading. I was constantly trying to understand how certain decisions would affect other races & planets but no examples or information were provided so I had no idea what types of consequences certain plot developments would have.

One thing I did enjoy was all the characters and side characters throughout the story. I'm hoping any sequels will elaborate more on some of the awesome side characters that disappeared after saying a few lines. Also one of the final plot twists provides a very interesting future for the story, so I'm interested to see if Lewis can straighten out more of the world-building and pull together a more coherent plot for this intriguing world they created.
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I love being able to find hidden gems on Netgalley. I was deeply impressed by the scope of this novel. It felt like it took place in space with various locations. I will say that the editor letter describes it as being Red Rising, The Handmaids Tale and The Expanse series; I didn't believe it could truly live up to these expectations but it did!! I was taken hostage by this book, it held me at it's mercy and refused to let me go.
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4/5 stars

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis is an epic science fiction space opera full of vivid world building of a futuristic universe in which man kind expands into our solar system, but takes their problems with them. It's ripe with political intrigue and scandal which further propels this story into the type of adult read I prefer these days. 

The characters are beautiful examples of diverse representation which makes me appreciate the story even more. There are definite adult elements throughout this book, such as child abuse, religious abuse, sexual assault and even war time violence but it is all tastefully written and explored in a way that isn't gratuitous or purely put in for shock value. 

Without giving away the plot, let me just say that if you are looking for a new science fiction series to engross yourself in, and are aching for the kind of representation sorely lacking in today's literature, then this book is for you.
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I was given a free eARC in exchange for a honest review. 

Maybe it’s my fault for going into this book with high expectations but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. I think the best parts of The First Sister are the main characters. I also enjoyed the overall world the author created. 

Honestly I wish this book was just a little longer. I felt that some parts needed to be fleshed out more, particularly the Sisterhood. Also the relationship between Fist Sister and Ren felt rushed because we were told they spent time together and didn’t see it. Which made First Sisters attraction seem sudden. 

To be honest I felt like a lot of this book was a set up for the second one. But I am interested in finding out what happens next.
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