Hi friends! Eeek, it’s been 2 weeks since I posted (again). I really want to move up to a once-a -week schedule, but I just not been ~feeling it~ lately. I’ve been reading pretty slowly too, so I think I’m just feeling a little burnt out. I’ve got plenty of post ideas waiting in the wings though, so I’m sure I’ll be back up and going soon!
Anyway, today I’m popping in with a review of a book that just released on the 4th of August. I was lucky enough to actually be invited by the publisher on NetGalley to read an ARC of this book (a first for me, very exciting!). And, look, I’m a simple bookworm. I read “queer space opera with non-binary hero,” I click.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this is now probably my favourite read so far in 2020. It just had everything! Reading it felt like such an enjoyable experience (aside from the typical horrific formatting you can expect from an advance copy) aaaand I finished it at 2am. Which, y’know, I generally regard as a good sign about a book. Seriously, I’m so happy I got an ARC of this because I really feel like I was one of the first people to discover this book that deserves to be The Next Big Thing.
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Can I give this book 6 stars? Because it was 5 stars the whole way through and then the ending brought everything up a notch. You’re now looking at my favourite book of the year, and I had the joy and privilege of getting to read it as an ARC. I also now have the despair of waiting even longer for the sequel. It ended not with a cliffhanger but by setting up each of the main characters at the start of a new journey (a far better choice, in my opinion).
The First Sister is what most Sci-Fi wishes it could be. Epic in scale, with character’s actions having far-reaching consequences, yet close and personal on an emotional level, investing you in the unique struggles of each character. Best of all, it’s queer. So queer, and so beautiful.
This world is a harsh one, of war, abuse, people used as pawns, their personal agency taken away. There are many triggering subjects (I will provide a list at the end of the review) but they are handled with grace and care – the true horror of these actions laid clear, their consequences shown. Characters confront their ignorance and problematic beliefs, learning and taking action to do better.
In the vein of my other favourite Sci-Fi, Saga , this is a book about people from opposite sides of an interstellar war coming together to end it. A bisexual woman trying to reclaim her agency from those who have stolen it, a gay Latinx soldier figuring out where his loyalties lie, and a Japanese non-binary hero who’s just trying to save the worlds. If that sounds like all you’ve ever wanted (and it does to me), then I urge you to pick up The First Sister and enjoy it in all of its glory.
Trigger warnings (I’m not an expert at doing these so apologies if I missed anything) :
Mention of previous forced sexual activity (never shown on page). War, death, character struggling with PTSD. Racism towards an alien species. Slight spoiler warning for this one (but I felt it was too important not to include): a non-binary character being forced to present as a gender they don’t identify with. If you’ve read the book and think I’ve missed anything, please let me know!
Sooo have I convinced you to read this yet? If not, what more do I have to do? Because I really need everyone to pick up this book and agree with me about how amazing it is.