Out here, even Ratho might start to feel my attentions. It would definitely end our friendship as well as challenge him to report me in order to protect himself. After my religious outburst, he probably would! Chamber of Verities, what has happened? I vigorously rub my face without regard for the rough sand on my hands. Maybe entertaining attraction dulls my amulet? Maybe giving in and enjoying wrong impulses has impaired it more and more? Or swimming in moonlight. The Madronians insist the moon is female. Oh, what have I done? Have I drained most of its strength?
Book: Firstborn: A Novel by Lorie Ann Grover, Blink (Zondervan Publishers), 2014
Target Audience: Girls 18+
Subjects: Murder, Sex-Role, Occupation of Enemy, Religion, Friendship, Family Relationships, Survival
Summary: She’s not female! She’s not! The amulet will protect her… won’t it? Born into a country taken over by superstitious enemies, all firstborn females are to be killed. Her father, desperate to save her life declares her a male and the authorities agree. As long as she never shows any sign of femininity they will let her live. So she trains for the same assignments as the males and lives her life squelching any feminine urges or tendencies. Now she is of age. Her rapion has hatched and bonded with her and she is sent out on patrol with the other young men. But the more she grows and develops the more she doubts. She may dress and act like a male, but inside she very much feels like a female… especially when her friend Rathon is around. If the amulet squashing her femininity ever fails her though, it will be instant death.
Notes: Patterned after books such as The Hunger Games, Firstborn puts one female in a position to fight against any extremely corrupt society. She must “play the game” as her father words it, pretending to be in perfect obedience to the authorities. But inwardly she rebels against everything they demand. Her people are portrayed allegorically as the Christians, worshipping the “Creator Spirit” whereas the enemy has a religion believing their god conquered other gods, making him the most superior god and the one to worship. Tiadone’s father illegally hid some of the books teaching of the Creator Spirit and taught her to worship and follow Him. She’s one of the few who do though. The catcheism taught to all young people has taken a strong hold on her people. She has to strengthen her own beliefs, fight against the servants of the false god and their torment of her people and all the while pretend to be totally obedient – and male.
This book did clearly convey some spiritual elements – one scene in particular has Tiadone finding a hidden cave of worship to the Creator Spirit, solidifying her confidence in His existence as the one true god. The front cover almost sums it up the best with a quote that reads “Sometimes fate has a different plan”. There’s not a all-powerful being who is in control of the world. It’s more of a deistic view of God – He created, He exists, but He isn’t really all that involved in day-to-day life.
It’s very clear though that the book is not meant to be beautiful. In some places it is very crass. There are a lot of details given as to how Tiadone is clearly a female despite being declared male. The author doesn’t spare details of things that are dirty or private but just lays it out for the reader.
I’m assuming this to be book one of a series because it ends on a note of minimum survival, not true triumph. It doesn’t leave the reader with a lot of hope or joy, just acceptance that this is the best it gets.
It felt as though there was this big idea dreamed up - a female being declared male - and a story was forced around it, a story that didn't quite work, didn't quite fit together and definitely did not finish strong.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
1 Timothy 4:4 – For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
Psalm 139:13-14 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.