Cover Image: The First Sister

The First Sister

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Member Reviews

The First Sister is an exciting and compelling sci-fi adventure! Fans of Red Rising and the Handmaid’s Tale will particularly enjoy this, but I would honestly recommend it to anyone. The First Sister follows the perspectives of First Sister, Lito, and Hiro. First Sister is a nameless comfort woman, tasked with secretly spying on the new captain Saito Ren. First Sister is mute and sign language is her main form of communication. Writing is viewed as sacrilegious. When the captain asks her to exchange notes, she is tempted to go against everything she has been taught. Lito is desperately looking for his partner Hiro, a non-binary soldier who has gone dark on a mission. When Lito receives secret audio recordings from Hiro, Lito starts to unravel what happened to them and begins to retrace their steps. 

From the opening chapter, I was hooked. I actually picked this up and read the first half in one sitting! The pacing was excellent, there was never a dull moment. Lewis does a fantastic job of addressing sexual abuse and rape culture, without relying on graphic sexual abuse scenes. The world-building is inclusive and crafted with intense care. I particularly enjoyed the romance between First Sister and Saito Ren. Initially, I thought it would be tricky to pull off the romance with the power dynamics, but it worked really well! Lewis expertly wove in several plot twists that truly surprised me and subverted my expectations. I also loved that while these characters are fighting to stay alive, they’re never fighting to be addressed by their correct pronouns. The inclusive writing and LGBTQ characters were a joy to read, especially since this is too rarely the case in science fiction. The First Sister is a particularly impressive debut and I can’t wait to read the next installment in the series! The First Sister releases on August 4, 2020. Thank you to Linden A. Lewis, Gallery Books, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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It's a brilliant story that kept me hooked till the last page. Great world building and characters, an excellent plot.
The author is a talented storyteller and I loved this book.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
It's highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc. 

Oh wow. This book literally blew me away. I went in with little expectations. To be honest, I saw Goldsboro feature a stenciled edge version for their fantasy/sci-fi sub, so I thought I’d try it before committing. I am so glad I did. I loved “The First Sister”. The characters were well written. I’m usually not a fan of back and forth POVs, but I couldn’t wait to read about every character. They were all well written. The pacing was very smooth and flowed well. I was a little confused at times on who was on which side, but it just made me want to figure it more. The twist literally shocked me. I had no idea and saw nothing coming. I didn’t know what was happening. My jaw dropped, and I loved it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi read.
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Thank you Netgalley and Gallery books for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Every so often you come across a story that draws you in and keeps taking you for a ride. Now, finding one that can do that, and yet still offer surprises and twists, that's the hard part in my opinion.

Yet, here that book is for me. 

When I requested this ARC, I went in expecting a great romp through another science fiction tale. Instead though, I got that and so much more. I didn't expect to find such a diverse cast when it came to representation of race, gender identity, and sexuality. Yet we got exactly that., Throughout the story we get a small f/f romance, a non-binary character and storied POV, and various races of different descent. I became enamored with each of the characters and their stories really brought me to tears and also elation over certain plot points.

The world's lore is interesting, completely fraught with war and espionage. The tech involved included the ideas of neural implants to enhance prowess in battle and suppress reactions that might hinder one's state, such as panic. Even the factions seemed so intriguing to me, though I wish we got even more lore about each of them. 

The thing that stood out the most though, was the impact of body autonomy . The Sisterhood are basically the comfort women for one faction known as the Gaens. The Sisters are literally there to receive confessions to the Goddess, yet also be available for 'comfort' in the form of sexual needs. The story speaks of it, but there is only mentions and one attempted moment of it. Then, there is another facet with the other faction. The government for the Icarii is what you expect of most military governments who care not for their people, or the Asters (those who live among the belt). This comes to a head via experiments and going as far to undergo severe surgeries on their own people for sake of missions.

My only complaint was with the fact it had to be a non-binary character to suffer through both surgical trauma and have to deal with the mental repercussions the rest of their life. As a non binary reader, this actually broke my heart to the point I had to take a small break at that point in time. 

Overall this was such a solid debut novel, and I'm so anxious to see how the story continues for these wonderful characters.
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First off, can we just take a second to talk about that cover? It is absolutely gorgeous and so true to what the book contains. 

I absolutely adored this book. I was a little worried going into this book because many times space dramas tend to get lost in the endless possibilities that can occur in worlds unknown to us that the story becomes lost. However, this was not the case at all. The plot was riveting and extremely fun to follow. 

The characters were all so beautifully crafted and their friendships and struggles were so genuine. Each one was so unique and distinct from the other. Many times authors introduce a myriad of characters with their own POVs thinking it will make the story more enjoyable. However, when all those characters are similar, it becomes mundane and unnecessary. The First Sister does not fall into that category of books. Because of the setting, we get to see the characters thrive in their diversity. While I love reading a story of a character in a different world struggling to fit in because of their culture, sexuality, etc. I also loved seeing these characters getting to thrive in a setting where diversity is already accepted and not an issue. This also provides for unique character arcs and dilemmas. All of the struggles of the characters were so genuine and sad, it made my heart hurt anytime they discussed their past. 

My only quips are that I wish the POVs were more distinct and the time this story took place was a little bit more defined. Going from POV to POV was pretty confusing and various references to countries and cultures in today's day and age made it a little confusing for me to understand when this was taking place. 

Overall fun read. 

- 4 stars -
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My first and major complaint is the fact that this ARC didnt define whose POV I was reading about. It wasn’t really until halfway through the chapter I can accurately understand which character I’m reading through. If a book is going to use that many POVs, this should have been properly defined in every chapter. There are some trigger warnings which I hope in the final book, there will be a helpful note in the beginning. I find then i would be more mentally prepared. 

However with that being said. I’m a sucker for Sci-fi and the first sister was more than just part one in a trilogy. It’s epic and you couldn’t put it down from the first page. This is almost like a handmaidens tale meets Star Wars.
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Trigger Warnings: Discussions of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault, Abuse (physical,mental, emotional), Self-injurious behavior, Death, Murder, Gore,  Mental illness (PTSD, depression, anxiety), Racism, Prejudice, Classism, Alcohol Use, Body Horror, Loss of Bodily Autonomy, Brainwashing, Transphobia.

I received this book from Netgalley and Skybound Books in exchange for an honest review.

It's no lie that my favorite book is Dune. I'm a sucker for a space operas, on other worlds affairs, families in political dilemmas, soldiers in a constant war for their planet's future, and a rebellion brewing in the horizon to help the oppressed cause nobody else seems to have the courage to change the system. I just love those type of stories, so I read multiple series like that set in the big cosmos above our skies. When I saw the cover for The First Sister something inside my heart burst up. Alien feelings awakened when my eyes gazed upon it, I did not care what the premise was about, or who the author was. I KNEW that no matter what, I'd own this. That this book would be mine one way or the other. I only have such gut feelings for a few memorable occasions and this book met all of my exceptions as a reader.

"May the heart of the universe, keep you, and may you never forget we are all born from the same stuff as stars."

Humanity as we once knew it had left earth, after they tarnished it for so many years. Now scattered at the far edges of the cosmos, the people reformed into new society on the surfaces of Mars, Mercury and Venus and even asteroid belts, each faction fighting for resources, religious holy war or injustice. Our story is split into three individuals, First Sister, a young woman from the Gaen society, working on the Warship, Juno, for the religious sect of the sisterhood who follows the teaching of the canon. She almost had her happily ever after with her sweetheart but nothing is so simple as we hope it to be. Lito Val Lucius, an operative for the Icarii special is sent for a covert mission to recover crucial information to what may be a the betrayal of their partner in favor of their enemies and Hiro, the alleged traitor who is an enigma. Did they sold off information to the Gaens? Did they switch sides? Lito tries to seek the truth all the while listening to tapes Hiro left for him.

"Be what they want. Be what they need. Be everything for them, so that they will leave your chambers without sadness without guilt, without lust. No distraction while they're on duty."

There's such viciousness in us humans to be able to conduct such a unspeakable idea as to take young innocent girls and essentially, take away their voices, their uniqueness and turn them to a tool to encourage the soldiers of Gaens to feel better, to be unburden by their earthly worries by using them in ways I shall not even try to imagine. Thankfully we are saved by such imagery due to Linden's small kindness to us but it's there, a reminder to what First sister and so many other sisters and probably their counter part the cousins have to endure each day in the name of their suppose "GODDESS" and what the Mother is deeming rightful. I was hooked by First Sister POV, how she coordinates her new status and is swimming in unknown water not sure who's her ally or foe anymore. Her journey, her romance, she became so important to me that some moments I forgot she was just a fictional character and not real.

And then there were Lito and Hiro each in their own way, lovable, their pasts, their friendship, what will become of them in the future was frightening to me. Lito hunting down his best friend, his partner, probably his only friend and for what? A society that didn't cared for him and his poor sister? That by hard work he gained his new title after excruciating trials and yet he's still not good enough in the eyes of the Icarii? And Hiro... God I can't even fathom what they had to go through in their household, with their monster of a father, their identity and caring so much for Lito that they'd die for him and Luce. How everything in this story begins to split and comes by the end into a satisfying conclusion was great in my opinion but some of the twists in my opinion felt a bit too pushy for me, but hey, it's a trilogy and a debut you gotta give the author some slack.

"Mother, I pray that this is not how I die- voiceless, sightless, deaf. Truly, this is hell."

You know what I love about space? There's myriad of possibilities that can happen if we ever decided to take the leap and blast off into space. Linden take on the future is by far the most refreshing take I've seen in fiction. The primer authenticity and the speaking languages are not just English or western, no. It's overflowing with diversity that we so much need in this genre of science fiction. English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, these are but a small examples of the majority of representations in both the Icarri and the Gaens and don't get me started on the incredible acceptance of LGBTQ+. Nobody needs to be afraid of their sexual identity, attraction, gender, it's something so trivial in compare to the multitude of issues at hand. And the technology of the implants, the mecha ironsuits, the shape shifting mercury blades, it's like the wet dream I desired for so long!!!

I hope this review, as much as it is obvious, convinced you to try out The First Sister. Linden created a promising new trilogy to enjoy in the coming years. It's hella diverse with plethora of characters, space is so big and the plants are so vast to explore and we don't have to worry about what bothers us as of now. Order the book, spread the word, and may the heart of the universe protect you in these rough times. Stay safe <3

Is it diverse? Positive pro LGBTQ+ representation, Spanish-Latin main character, Japanese Main Character, Non-binary main character, Disabled characters.
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The first thing that I noticed about "The First Sister" was the eye-catching cover. Between that and the description of the book, I was a bit worried that it was going to be a more difficult and heavy read than it was. I am not always a fan of space operas (I find space too terrifying to really think about), but I felt that "The First Sister" did a great job focusing on character development while building a realistic world. I felt that this book could be enjoyed by people who love space, as well as people who are looking for more general sci-fi/fantasy. 

Being relatively inexperienced in the space opera genre, this may be an untrue statement--- but it seems that EVERY one that I have read or watched focuses on fighting between planets/different races. In that sense, "The First Sister" is no different. The focus of this book however is on three characters: "The First Sister," who is a religious prostitute (that is a weird phrase to write), a non-binary soldier that has disappeared on a mission, and a soldier that desperately wants to know what happened to them (the soldier). Each character had a distinguishable voice, and the way that there stories intersect in the giant war made the second half of the book amazing.

A few, small things that I couldn't help but nitpick about. I get that the story is "sometime in the far future," but various references to Japan made the story seem not as far in the future as it would need to be in order to have the culture development that drove the plot. Also, maybe I missed something and Japan was not supposed to be on Earth at all ("Earth" has a different name and it has two moons). I hope there is a bit more history added in the following books. There was random Japanese hiragana and katakana-- which as someone who has studied Japanese meant that I had to read it--- and I found that it was a complete useless addition since the translation of the sentence was always in the following sentence. Maybe it was to make it more hip or interesting, but I felt that it was distracting and unnecessary. 

4.5 stars, rated up to a 5. "The First Sister" is a unique and fun experience of a read and I look forward to seeing its follow-up.
Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I absolutely loved The First Sister. It's an epic space opera that follows 2 story lines. First Sister, who works as a priestess/ "comfort woman" for soldiers on the spaceship Juno. And Lito, a soldier from Venus on a mission to track down and kill his ex-partner. The story lines are separate for most of the novel but come crashing together at the finale. It reminds me of The Expanse series with a focus on social issues, and for lack of a better word, more "woke". I adored it and can't wait to see where the story goes in the next installment.
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If you like books that entertain you, make you think, have non-stop action, and have kick-ass characters who light up the page, then look no further! The First Sister has it all! I'm a sucker for space operas, so there was no hesitation in requesting this title from Netgalley. I was expecting an entertaining read but what I got was so much more. All the characters stood out on the page, even First Sister with her lack of voice. I enjoyed her chapters the most because she was so strong despite the life that she was thrust into. She didn't let it stop her, however, and by the end she came into her own, knew what she wanted and was willing to fight for what she believed in. Once I started this, I could not stop. The story flew by and I was disappointed when I was finished. I cannot wait for the next book because I HAVE to know what happens to these magnificent characters! I would definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of science fiction, enjoys seeing strong LGBTQ representation, strong characters, and awesome twists and turns!
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The First Sister is the first book of The First Sister trilogy series.

I like to call this a “sink into” story. It’s the type of book you enjoy on a stormy day, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping a hot cup of coffee, where you can block out the world and really sink into the plot. The story world is intricately developed and instantly draws you into a world where Earth isn’t the only inhabited planet. In this new Universe, a group of forced sex workers, known as the Sisterhood, exist to serve the physical, as well as emotional and spiritual, needs of soldiers on a warship. Alongside this story is that of Lito, a soldier with a mission to kill his former partner who has turned rogue. These two stories serve as the pillars of the plot, but don’t interweave until the end. It’s important to remember this is the first of a trilogy, so the character arcs only being established, but won’t be completed. Yet.

My attention was drawn mostly to The First Sister. I found myself looking forward to her plot line more so than Lito’s because her world is so foreign yet with a subtext of familiarity. She was plucked as a young child to start living with the Sisterhood. On the surface, this ground holds prestige as the main religious entity in the Universe. The Mother serves as God. The Sisters serve as pious deities who serve the Mother at all costs. Part of this is receiving confession from soldiers. In order to keep the Sisters from spilling confessional secrets, the Sisterhood takes away their voice.

The First Sister must endure abuse and suffering as a voiceless puppet for a group she never wanted to be a part of. The symbolism of a voiceless woman rising to power isn’t lost as the story progresses and First Sister grows braver. There’s a strong feminist aspect in what is not on the page just as well as what was included. I enjoyed getting to know this character, and I look forward to seeing where the Universe takes her in the next two books.

The structure of the plot moves between First Sisters’s POV, Lito’s POV and recordings left behind by Lito’s partner Hiro, spoken in her own POV. Hiro’s voice holds a lot of the backstory, and I found these sections a little slow in pace compared to the other narratives. The rest of the novel moves quickly with action and tension moving the story toward an unforeseen ending.

I would have liked for the stories to intersect earlier, but again, this is a trilogy so some patience is required. I’m happy to wait. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy, and if you’re a fan of sci-fi rebels with strong female protagonists, this is a must read!
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A wonderfully written world that you can "see" when you close your eyes.  Linden Lewis has built an entirely fantastical world, his descriptive writing skills are excellent, while using enough practical landmarks so we recognize the slow disenegration of today's issues into consequences we'd never imagine.  Populated by so any distinctive characters, we are pulled into the battles that bear too many references to today's battles for comfort.  
THE FIRST SISTER may be sci-fi, but it resonates with the relationships, both good and disastrous, that an epic story needs to capture the reader and keep them enthralled.  This is the first book of a planned trilogy.  This one sets the gold example for following chapters.
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If you’re looking for a book where there’s a clear Dark Side and no question who the heroes are, this is not the book for you. If you want an adventure, a heist, capers and shenanigans, this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a comfort read, a quick read, a fun read, then this is not the book for you.

But if, instead, what you want is a book that will challenge you, captivate you, and make you think, then – here. This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.

I’m not going to lie, the world of The First Sister is pretty damn bleak. Humanity is torn in two and at war with itself; there’s the Gaens, with their repulsive religion that makes voiceless, nameless sex-slaves of its priestesses, and the Icarri, whose technology is wondrous but comes at a horrifying cost. We also have the Asters, an off-shoot of humanity who altered themselves to better adapt to the harsh environment of planetary surfaces. The dynamics between the three are far more complicated than they seem at first, something which gradually unfolds over the course of the book.

But it’s also a very diverse universe. Queerness of all kinds is completely normalised, the primary languages of the galaxy are English, Spanish and Chinese, and although the First Sister herself is white, Lito is the descendant of Spanish and Italian spacefarers, and Hiro and Saito Ren are of Japanese ancestry. This, too, is all normalised. Space is not white-washed here!

So what is The First Sister actually about? Well, you’ve got the blurb up above, so I’m not going to reiterate that. What I’ll say instead is that it’s about little people – people who feel small, who think they’re powerless, who are trapped in societies designed to control them – discovering that even the smallest game piece can overturn the board. It’s about being a tiny cog in an enormous machine – and how even the tiniest cog, if it refuses to turn, can bring the whole thing down.

And that makes it very much a book for our times, honestly. That makes it very much a book for all of us who feel overwhelmed and hopeless about the state of the world, because Lewis has crafted a story where imperfect people – cogs in their respective machines – can still dream about peace in the midst of a never-ending war. Can still reach for hope and better things even while crushed in the jaws of their unforgiving cultures. Where even those who are not fighters can fight – through their fear, through the weight of expectation and command and history.

The First Sister is a book about agency and compassion, about voices among the voiceless, about doing the right thing even when there is no right thing – about making the right thing, when there is none. It’s about looking your society right in the eye and saying no.

No more.

This stops here.

This is a powerful, gut-punching read that hooks you and doesn’t let you go. It’s not grimdark, but it’s not a plasma-beams-firing action story either. There is love, but this is not a romance. It’s a story with deft worldbuilding, subverted tropes, and characters so real and human you can hear them breathe. It’s social commentary and a call to arms; an instruction manual for resisting oppression and corrupted systems; a prayer that this is not our future.

It’s a book you need to read.
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Wow. Just wow. After letting it sit for a while, I finally decided to write my review. I can't find a better way to start than this. I started this book knowing near nothing about it.
I was terrified when I saw it was a space opera. I have read very little Science Fiction, the only one I liked being Skyward, and even then It wasn't a 5 star read. But all my doubts disappeared after reading the first two chapters. 
This story, these characters, intrigued me so much. I was utterly surprised. I read it slowly so I could understand and enjoy as much as possible. And, while reading, I kept getting this pull that urged me to continue. It didn't take long for me to realise that this book was going to be one of my new favourites. And I was right. I'm honestly relieved it's the first in a trilogy because there's so much going on, and I expect answers.
We follow two main perspectives. Each narrator is part of a different human nation, the Geans and the Icarii. Years ago they were one, but now they are at war. First Sister is what we would call a nun of the Geans. Their society is ruled over by their religion, the Sisterhood. She was my favourite character by far. Her journey was incredibly inspiring to follow.
All the characters we meet are different and equally important to the story. They were each clearly defined, with diverse personalities and beliefs, as well as flawed in a way that humanises them. 
The world-building was extensive, distinct and brilliant, not overly explained. I'll look forward to learning more about these cultures and their history in future books. The writing was descriptive without overexplaining. Fast-paced and easy to follow. 
It was a story about struggling people living in an oppressed society in a broken world, figuring how to fix it, and themselves. And I loved it. I can't wait for more.
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The First Sister of the Juno is a comfort woman for the Gean military whose only hope of a semi-bearable life is convincing her new captain Saito Ren that she should keep her on for personal use and not return her to the common pool. Lito sol Lucius is an Icarii soldier blamed for a calamitous defeat who must kill his beloved partner Hiro to be redeemed. He cannot believe they turned traitor, but is forced to accept the assignment. Slowly, each comes to realize the rot at the core of their respective sides of the endless war. Three-dimensional characters in a compelling (albeit often horrifying) universe.
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The First Sister is a complex intergalactic SciFi novel with psychologically impacting elements. This one is so hard for me to review. All I can say is this novel takes sensitive topics such as race, gender, divinity and common sense to another level. Bravo for the imagination. I haven’t read the Red Rising, but some parts definitely felt similar to The Handmaid’d Tale. Loved the cyberpunk references and looking forward for Book 2. Glad that this is a trilogy! 

4.25/5 

Thank you Netgalley, Gallery Books and Linden.A.Lewis for the ARC. This review is my own and is not influenced in anyway!
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To start off: this book deals with the dangers of rape-culture & sexual assault, but there are NO graphic sexual abuse scenes, glorifying of sexual assault, or ‘torture porn’. There is mention of gore, blood, torture, and dismemberment, disfiguration, and mutilation, prostitution, experimentation, denial of bodily autonomy, mentions of child abuse, as well as 2-4 instances of transphobia & lesbophobia by one-off characters (these instances are mentioned in a negative light).

This book was a RIDE. It explores the power of technology, the good and the bad that comes with that; race; gender; colonization. All the main characters are queer and in queer relationships; the characters felt organic in their queerness & their relationships felt very organic as well! You could tell from their feelings alone that they were in love-- which means so much more than just stating so in word or through physical actions.

The religion of the Sisterhood is original, if somewhat terrifying and creepy. The Ironskin fighters feel a little reminiscent of Ironman but more interesting! The concept of the duelists— their pairing, their partnership, their fluid swords, and that winning is dependent entirely on the wielder's skill— stands apart from other fantasy/sci-fi books where anyone-can-wield-them plasma guns and/or laser-swords are often the go-to weapon. The characters all had their own individual journeys that just happened to intertwine. There were twists all around and a few red herrings, almost all of which went off without a hitch!

I preferred First Sister and Hiro’s POV, to be honest. I somewhat disliked Lito’s character for the first half or so, and I didn’t find the things happening in his POV as interesting as I would’ve liked them to be. His POV in general felt less...intriguing. I don’t usually enjoy books written in first-person, but it was the best POV to have written this book in. It made more of an impact than third person would have. The characters all have diverse and individual personalities, individual tics, their own goals and they each go about those goals in differing ways, even if some have similar goals. I liked that there were three points of view with one from both sides of the war, and the third that’s working against the other two.

The character development for First Sister (the character) happens at what felt like the right pace. Throughout the book, despite the fact that she has no voice, First Sister is not at all passive: she’s defiant and strong-willed, unwilling to break but willing to bend just enough to get by. Her inability to speak is not the focus of her character arc or her personal plot— rather, it focuses on her wants and desires, hopes and dreams, and what she’s willing to do to make them reality. She’s given the chance to articulate these, and while doing so would mean traitorous to the Sisterhood religion, she is given the choice to do so. First Sister had a certain view of the world, her beliefs, her view the people on her “side” of the war, all of it was challenged, and it helped her grow. The reveal of what’s happening with her was confusing. There didn’t seem to be a lot of noticeable build-up to that moment, so I was thrown way off. Her relationship

Lito’s character development happens more incrementally, but it felt more realistic for his character than it would have if he’d changed at a faster pace. His character development is most visible in his use of his neural implant to neutralize any and all feelings he has. At the start, I found Lito to be a somewhat unsympathetic character, and further into the book, I realized it was because he didn’t feel fully human. As he began to go through his character development, I came to like him a lot more and rooted for him! In terms of his POV, considering the reveal in the second half of the book, there was a lot of places in his chapters where little bits of information on the neural implant could have helped lead up to the twist in the second half. The neural implant isn’t entirely explained, or at least decently explained aside from a very, very basic ‘this is what it does’. Going into it a bit more— even just talking about what’s not known about it— would’ve added to the world and made myself as the reader feel more immersed in the story. I’m hoping it’s talked about more in the sequel!

Hiro’s character development, done through audio transcript-like flashbacks narrated to Lito, was brilliant and very effective! It gave better insight into their past, their character development, and one of the antagonists for the next book (I think/hope). Their POV was extremely helpful in revealing the groundwork for the book in general. If Hiro had had their own chapters from start-to-finish of the book, I don’t think it would have gone quite as well as it did with the limited audio recording flashbacks.

The queer representation felt natural and was great to see! Even when some of the one-off characters were transphobic (as far as I can remember, it happened twice, maybe three times), they were always clearly acknowledged as being in the wrong and “an asshole or a bastard” (yes that’s a direct quote & it’s awesome).

I liked the representation of different cultures, though it would’ve been nice if there’d been more of it. Also, I’m a white person, so I can’t say whether Hiro was good representation for Japanese people, or how well Japanese culture was presented in the flashbacks.

In terms of world-building, there wasn’t a lot but what was explained was interesting; I just wish there had been more of it. I felt there was a lot lacking in the sense of insight into what aspects of cultures are broadly prevalent. The story felt so focused on the characters that the world didn’t expand much further than what directly impacted them, including how and why the war started and the explanation of how humanity came to populate other planets aside from Earth. I found there was also a lack of scene-setting description other than what was immediately important to the characters’ goals and what they interacted with.

In terms of the plot, there was a lot going on and there were a lot of twists. The numerous twists at the very end were great, though the final reveal felt somewhat lacking in build-up. It was somewhat jarring and I was a bit confused, though I think that might’ve been because I was missing some of the cues? I would’ve preferred a few more hints that something wasn’t adding up, to add to the sense of an underlying conspiracy. Regarding the caste-indicating use of ‘sol’ and ‘val’, aside from in the beginning, it didn’t feel like these branding names held as much weight as they’re said to hold. Lewis could have had more moments to showcase exactly how different these two societal rankings are, the difference in treatment between them.

When stepping back from looking at everything individually and considering the book as a whole, I really enjoyed it! I’m hoping the sequel is even better, because I’ll definitely be picking it up!

4/5 stars!
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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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Wow .... I loved this book. I finished its last night and cant stop thinking about its.
Its a brillent and interesting story. I loved how all the elements came together.
Had some wonderfull well written  characrers  my favorite was first sister.
Was fast pacing with some amazing twist that I didnt see coming.
Its just a brillent book I can't sing its praises enough.
I would definitely recommend its for anyone who loves sci-fi.
I hope there's a sequel.. 
I received this book from netgallery in exchange for a honest review
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The First Sister is the first book in a planned science fiction trilogy by Linden A. Lewis, published by Skybound Books and Gallery Books. Far in the future, the Gaens and the Icarii are at war. The Gaens hold dominion over Earth and Mars, their government intertwined with the religious order of the Sisterhood. The Icarii are confined to Mercury and Venus with their superior technology and high reliance on gene editing.

The First Sister follows three first-person perspectives in the aftermath of a major battle and a potential turning point in the war. First Sister serves on a captured Icarii spaceship in the same manner as every Sister. She is a representative of the Goddess and the Mother whose duty is to take confessions and yield to the sexual whims of the soldiers on board. However, if she can capture the favor of the ship's new captain, Saito Ren, she will be exempt from sex with the crew and belong only to the captain. First Sister is commanded by the Sisterhood to spy on the new captain and report any treachery but has to navigate avoiding being labeled, or becoming, a traitor herself.

Lito val Lucius is an Icarii Rapier whose Dagger Hiro has gone missing and is accused of betraying the Icarii. His new neural implant-connected partner Ofiera is a superior officer, and when given the order to find and kill Hiro, Lito has to choose between duty and love. Meanwhile, Hiro, the third first-person perspective, is uniquely written through audio messages they are left for Lito in the time between their separation and Lito's new mission. Lito's sister Luce delivers the messages to Lito just before he takes off on his mission and the reader reads their transcripts as short chapters between First Sister and Lito's chapters.

The world and lore of The Fist Sister are captivating. The two empires have distinct personalities and aspects that make them interesting. The Sisterhood is as concerning and cult-like as can be while the gene editing, neural implants, and advanced technology of the Icarii creates an equally concerning moral morass. The rampant gene editing of the Icarii long ago led to the evolution of an entire subspecies of humans, the Asters, who were originally edited to be ideal spacefarers, but now live in the asteroid belt and are subjugated and reviled, especially on Mercury and Venus.

The oppression of the Asters is particularly interesting because it illustrates most bluntly in The First Sister that no matter how far humanity progresses they are still ultimately fated to bigotry. There are at least two Icarii races that survive more or less as we know them today: Latinx and Asian (split between Japanese and Chinese). There may be other races or cultures that survive as well, but these two are made evident through the names of characters, the languages they speak, and the explicit discussion about culture that occurs throughout the book. While racism may not take the same shape as it does in our world, it clearly belies the world of The First Sister. There are also hints of a solar system-wide problem with artificial intelligence that revolted against their human makers and have since barricaded humanity within the confounds of the four inner planets.

The irony of an advanced civilization that has seemingly mastered the resistance of cultures without forced assimilation subjugating the Asters is just a portion of The First Sister's overarching themes. Ultimately, what binds the three first-person perspective characters' journies together is the dissolution of blind faith. Blind faith in religion, government, family, or even oneself are proven over and over in The First Sister to be deadly traps that feed into the eternal war machine and the self-serving factions on both sides. These lessons are driven home in numerous and increasingly unexpected ways while never leaving the reader feeling like they can't trust anybody at all. Clearly there can be a difference between blind faith and earned trust and the latter is well-rewarded.

The pacing of The First Sister was challenging at first. With every single chapter switching perspectives it felt like the story took too long to progress and hold my interest. Eventually the plot thickens on First Sister and Lito's sides of the story, but the copious amounts of exposition felt glossed over to the point where I had to use my reader's search function to remind myself of who people were and where they were. Hiro's sections unfortunately almost felt unnecessary for most of the book as well.

The creative style of writing these sections as recorded messages was unique when it worked well, but most of the time they felt just like giant exposition dumps that progressed the reader's understanding of nearly everything except for Hiro themselves. As a nonbinary character whose plot and personality largely do not revolve around their being nonbinary, it was disappointing that most of their presence in the book was utilitarian and not as their own character with agency and growth. In fact, most of their agency and growth are explicitly taken away from them as the book progresses, which was a major disappointment. The characterization we do get through the recordings and through Lito's love and admiration for them makes me excited to hopefully see Hiro as a fully autonomous character in the sequel.

I was additionally disappointed with how while the world of The First Sister is set up to make it clear that gender identities are universally accepted as fluid and up to individuals to determine for themselves, the narration does not match the world's own example. There are several times where Lito especially will encounter a new character and refer to them with gendered pronouns based only on their appearance and his assumptions. I would have expected that in a book attempting to normalize the fluidity of gender identity and nonconformity that it would also affirm the changes to the language, assumptions, and interactions necessitated for a complete normalization. When Lito meets a young Aster child at one point, for example, he immediately genders the child as a girl based on her appearance and personality. While this could be brushed off as an artifact of a first-person perspective told in the past tense, giving Lito time to have retroactively gendered the child based on how they told him they prefer to be referred, it nonetheless felt at several points contradictory to the message the book otherwise imparts about gender.

Lito and First Sister's character arcs do feel a tad rushed as most of the action is packed into the final act of the book, but ultimately it is the supremely interesting world that Lewis weaves that kept me captivated and interested in seeing how these two characters, in addition to other characters such as Captain Ren, the other Sisterhood members, and Ofiera would progress as the plot thickened. By the end, I was fully captivated and invested in every character's journey, even if they were never fully fleshed out earlier. First Sister and Lito's twin journeys through realizing their bodies and even their minds do not fully belong to them anymore and their quests to reclaim them are deeply impactful and written to be relatable to a wide swath of readers' experiences.

The First Sister is an interesting new world well worth a dive into. It is a fascinating introduction to a new series rife with potential going forward. While the book does not deliver on every character's potential, particularly its nonbinary hero, the reader gets to go on a captivating journey through the eyes of its three first-person perspective characters as they learn to shirk blind trust in the institutions that raised them and reclaim their bodies and minds for themselves.

The First Sister is available wherever books are sold August 4th, 2020.

Review will be posted on butwhythopodcast.com closer to release
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