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Firstborn: A Novel

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Overview

Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men?

When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn?t make a mistake by letting her live.

As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye on the ...

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Firstborn: A Novel

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Overview

Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men?

When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn’t make a mistake by letting her live.

As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye on the community is on her, and desperately wishes to belong and finally be accepted.—But at every step, traditional feminine gifts and traits emerge, and the bird she's been twined with is seen as a sign of the devil.

Worse, as Tiadone completes her rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend in ways that are very much in line with the female gender.

Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to stand up to her despotic rulers and uncover her real purpose in life.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-09
A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender. Tiadone is the first declared male in his R'tan village, though he was born female: Tiadone's father declared him male to save him from abandonment and certain death on the Scree, as is the fate for all firstborn R'tan females, as dictated by the oppressive rule of the Madronians. Soon, Tiadone, along with his best friend, Ratho, and their "twined" rapions (birds of prey bonded to R'tan companions), travels to the Perimeter. During their mandatory year of service in Perimeter Defense, they will protect their people from invaders, desert cats and sandstorms. Once there, Tiadone chronicles the ways he must cope with the scorn of the other boys, the cruelty of the Madronians in power and his own changing body and blossoming sexuality--all as he struggles with his feelings surrounding being a declared male. Over the course of the year, Tiadone comes to recognize and deconstruct the carefully crafted lies that his life has been founded on and eventually finds a strength, peace and freedom he never dared hope for. Through the beautifully drawn Tiadone--whom readers will come to care for and relate to--Grover questions both gender norms and gender conformity in an honest, light-handed manner. An engrossing story with welcome depths. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
From the Publisher

"An engrossing story with welcome depths."
Kirkus Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310739302
  • Publisher: Blink
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 663,541
  • Age range: 15 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lorie Ann Grover is a co-founder of the influential site readergirlz, where she is a visible advocate for teen literacy and activism. In addition, she is the author of three acclaimed novels: Hold Me Tight, a VOYA pick; On Pointe, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year; and Loose Threads, a Booklist Top 10 Youth First Novel and a 2003 Washington state Book Award Finalist. Lorie Ann lives in Washington State with her husband.

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Read an Excerpt

Firstborn

A Novel


By Lorie Ann Grover

ZONDERVAN

Copyright © 2014 Lorie Ann Grover
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-73930-2


CHAPTER 1

TAKEN


In the dim market alley, I gulp from the dipper. A beetle struggles across the silvery water in the communal rain urn until I flick him free.

That has to be enough bartering and haggling for a day. I hitch up my pack, bulging with mutton and herbs. Father must be ready to head home—if only I could find him.

Behind the adjacent door, bells clink against bones. The priest! I sputter and drop the ladle, leaving it swinging on its twine.

I lurch past the butcher's clay pots to disappear in the market throng, but Priest Sleene crashes open the alley door. Bang! Ducking behind a refuse basin, my boots squish in rancid meat scraps.

The priest pauses on the threshold. His black robes clot the doorway, and his attached wings arch stiffly from his shoulders. "Your firstborn female is worthless!" he hisses to the couple inside.

A tiny babe thrashes and starts to cry in the blue scrap of linen dangling from Sleene's clutch. The material is taut across the infant's open mouth and little jerking fists.

Despite the baby's outrage, I can't get past the door without the priest's notice. No one wants to draw his eye, least of all me. "Boy," he sneers whenever he sees me, making my skin pimple.

Sleene sweeps out into the alley. His oiled, bald head glints.

I shudder when the young father stops on the doorstep and bars his pale wife from leaving. She thrusts her thin arms beyond his, and her pleading fingers spread wide. "Our daughter! Don't take her and leave her out there. She'll die!"

Sleene spins and glares at her. He raises his voice above the wail streaming from the cloth. "You and your husband would declare her a male then?" He swings the squirming bundle before her, just out of her reach.

Yes, I beg silently.

"We will!" the woman promises and grasps at the air, but her husband shoves her behind him.

"No! Take the babe." He elbows her back.

"Filthy R'tans," Sleene mutters, as if even the name of my people dirties his tongue.

I grip my knees and duck my head lower, while anger flames my skin.

The woman lunges past, but the man grabs her around the waist and spreads his hand over her mouth.

Sleene glowers. "Tame your woman, Hangrot, or I will."

Crying and flailing in her husband's hold, the woman's shirt slides off her shoulder, and I notice two wet circles spread into the bodice as her body leaks milk for her babe. Hangrot whispers into her ear.

Finally, Sleene shifts the wriggling bundle and stomps past my hiding place. A newborn fist tears through the cloth. To keep from reaching out to it, I jerk back against the butcher's wall and cross my arms.

As the priest turns the corner, his robe whips about his ankles, rattling the attached bells and bones sewn along the hem. The end points of his wings drag through the dirt. Trailing jangles haunt the passageway, and a long black feather sticks in the mucky ground.

Why, why did that man let Sleene take his daughter?

The mother wrests her mouth free. "She'll die, Hangrot! We can't let him leave her out there. Our baby deserves to live! Declare her male!"

Please, so you can keep her! I want to shout.

"Do you believe she could provide for us when we are aged?" Hangrot's voice rises. "A female charaded as a male her entire life?"

The woman starts to answer, but Hangrot wrestles her inside the dwelling and slams the door.

Slowly, I stand. "Yes, she could have taken care of you," I whisper.

Like a mother goat's keen over her stillborn, the woman's cry rises.

I scramble out of the alley, into the market.

CHAPTER 2

RATHO


The square overflows with people. Fourteen years after the conquest, we R'tan villagers still give a wide berth to the ruling Madronians. Clad in roughspun trousers, ponchos, and layered dresses, R'tan sidestep the Madronians in their ornate robes, and we continue to avert our eyes from their kohl-dotted ones.

I scan the temporary stalls leaning against the stone shops and homes, and the boisterous crowds of R'tan clumped before them. Everyone is focused on their business, their desires, their needs. Flatteries and cajoling swoop like birds around the market square. In small clusters, Madronians ring the plaza, attending to their own business.

In the throng, I twist around, frantically searching for Father. Boots splat in puddles cupped in the cobblestones. Three whining children tug their mothers' skirts at the nearby sweet stall. The jelly-coated prickle pear draws water to my quivering mouth.

A woman suckling her babe nudges past me, his tasseled cap marking him as a boy. White-blue milk dribbles down his plump, chapped cheek.

In the mayhem, I turn and find my best friend, Ratho, reaching out and steadying me. He flips his black hair coils behind his shoulder as his thick brows arch over his eyes. "Tiadone! Are you all right?" Concern flows through the touch of his strong fingers.

I pretend I stumble so that I can lean into his shoulder for just a moment and breathe in the scent in his tightly woven poncho. Sunshine and lavender from his father's fields overpower my panic.

The village leatherworker hurries by clenching an armload of belts. He jostles Ratho and me closer, and I don't resist.

"Are you well?" Ratho repeats. Even though he is R'tan like me, he makes the Madronian gesture to ward off evil.

I still his hand, nod, and then wipe my nose on my sleeve. "I just saw Sleene—"

Father grips my arm and spins me around. "Tiadone! There you are." In warning, he rolls his full lips inward and tilts his head to the Madronian acolyte at the edge of the crowd. One of Sleene's private guard adjusts his whip, looped on his belt, and overlooks the market. Father's gray-streaked beard twitches.

I stifle my whimper, which sounds more like a babe than a male youth. "Sleene took a new—"

Father interrupts. "And Ratho!" He smiles but jerks me close against him, his arm resting on the top of my pack. "Nice to see you. Having a good day then?"

Ratho gestures respect and nods. "We'll be harvesting the lavender and tuber fields by the end of the week, Goat Tender."

"Wonderful," Father says.

"What were you telling me, Tiadone?" Ratho asks, his eyes looking straight into mine.

But a woman counting finger squash in her basket cuts between us. "Six, seven, eight ..."

A tall man carrying a honking goose shoves through as well. "Haste, haste! Out of my way," he puffs. Brown droppings are smattered down his sleeve. Once he blusters by, the three of us tighten our circle.

Father pats my best friend's shoulder. "You and Tiadone can talk another time, Ratho. We finished our shopping, but we still need to tend an ailing goat."

"But, Father, I want to—"

"Say hello to your parents for us, Ratho." Lacing his fingers and presenting his palms to my friend, Father indicates we are truly departing. Ratho mimics him.

"I'll see you after the harvest then, Tiadone," he says.

I nod, and he steps away but pauses. His look lingers on me until the crowd shifts, and then he's gone. Immediately, panic burns into my centerself.

"Father." I squeeze his clenched forearm. "There was a baby girl and a mother in the alley." He gives me a strong shake. I stop speaking and sputter as he pulls me to his rigid chest. Heavy goat scent weights his clothes.

It's true. Finally, I've seen it for myself. Sleene murders firstborn girls. My tears dampen Father's poncho.

"It's all right, my son," he says loudly. He nods at the staring acolyte and maneuvers me to an empty space in front of the butcher shop. The priest's guard follows us as Father clasps my shoulders. "Four pork and cheese pies will make you ill in the stomach."

The acolyte rolls his eyes and moves on. From his shoulder cape, heavy incense puffs and lingers over the butcher's fresh slaughter. The headless goose dangling above me drips a splat of warm blood onto my cheek.

With the inside edge of his soft sleeve, Father swipes my face clean. "Have mercy, Creator Spirit," he mouths. He leads us around the dingy building and away from town.

Trudging up our steep hill, the quickly setting sun barely brushes our backs. My pack sits heavily between my shoulder blades. I kick a stone loose in the sandy soil, and it comes to a stop by a shriveled rock rose plant. Father's step crushes the flower beneath his boot. I avoid trampling the small bit that still may survive. The pale pink blossom lies crimped in the dirt.

According to Madronian law, I would have been taken like that newborn. Sleene would have stolen me if Father hadn't declared me male. I was a firstborn girl.

CHAPTER 3

CANDLELIGHT


Father treated the ailing goat at the Bersbad's farm by holding a warm mustard poultice to its blocked teat until it opened, and the milk flowed for its bleating kid. All the while, he shushed the goat's moans exactly like he shushed me.

Now we are home, and night has settled atop our shrub-speckled hill. The coals in the center pit in our pebbled floor barely glow. A couple of stars glitter through the ceiling hole, while a flame flickers in the clay oil lamp on the table.

Father tugs the edge of one window curtain over the other. He sits down on the bench across from me, rubs his hands on his squat thighs. His body is hunched with tension, but he straightens and braces his elbows on our stone table.

"Now, Tiadone, we are safe from Madronian ears. You may question."

The words rush from my centerself, the place of belief and hope in my gut. "You've always told me what the Madronians do to firstborn girls when their parents don't declare them males, but today, Father, today, I saw for myself! Sleene's truly going to leave a girl on the Scree to die in that wasteland?"

He frowns, reinforcing the shallow wrinkles between his brown eyes. "It's as I've said, Tiadone—"

"But it never seemed so real before. I saw Sleene and the parents. The mother ..."

He presses his temples and looks to the rafters, intoning the enemy's dribble once again for me. "Madronian priests in all quarters of R'tania dispose of firstborn girls. They limit our race and add necessary males to their soldiering. You know it is the same in every village and kingdom the Madronians conquer. Only girls born within their native lands are always granted life."

I can merely stare at him.

"At least it is only our firstborn females under the scourge, Tiadone." He lowers his gaze to me. "It is a gift that after a male is established, all daughters are accepted."

A gift?

"Tiadone, remember the Madronians believe the first living child carries the greatest strength. Can you imagine them permitting a girl to have that power in a conquered village, or that they'd allow a family to offer only females to society?" He holds his hand up to keep me from cutting into his speech. "And we can be thankful they offer us the chance to declare our firstborn girls male to avoid ekthesis on the Scree."

"But ekthesis is murder!" I clench the table edge like lichen grips a rock. "There's no way a babe can survive if she's left alone in that shale wilderness. And what of those parents? That father? He didn't want to risk his future on a female?" My fear claws up and hisses, firstborn females are worthless. "Do you doubt I will provide for you in your old age?"

He reaches over and pats my hand. "I have no doubt in your strength, Tiadone. But yours is the first generation to reach maturity. Our village hasn't seen a declared male proven. All are waiting on you, Tiadone." He squeezes my curled fingers. "They worry about your bird. When your rapion hatches, they wonder if it will join you."

With a jerk, I cover the large egg beneath the gauze wrapped round my waist. My mouth parts hearing these doubts tip from my father. Will this bird reject me?

The rapion gifted me the egg at my birth in exchange for my placenta to nourish their elderly. I've carried their treasure my entire life, and it will hatch soon. Everything will change, but not as Father hints. "I will guard the land with my rapion on my shoulder and then by my side, as well as any other boy. It will work with me to protect the border of R'tania. Everyone believes it."

My father averts his eyes. "People doubt, Tiadone. The declared are not truly male to some. Think. This is why there are no other declared males, at least in our village."

"That's foolish!" I smack the table and lift the fist-sized, red amulet hanging from the sinew tied about my hips. "How can that be when the Madronians mandate the declared carry a desert cat's heart in his father's hair coils?"

I squeeze the soft mass in my fist, and the dry tissue compresses inside the leather pouch. Together, the heart and hair suppress the femininity I was born with and imbue me with the power of the fiercest, most dreaded in our desert, the cat. The amulet makes me male in my mind and in society. As a declared male, I'll wear the amulet for life and contribute as any other male in our village.

I can't believe any would doubt the fierce power. The Madronians trust their ritual and only watch to be certain I am not too weak as a R'tan for the amulet to be effective. As if that would be possible.

"I have the strength of man and feline, Father. My peers accept me as male. In fights, I am as strong as any."

"There are still some R'tan in our village who privately doubt, Tiadone. Over the years, I've seen the look on adults and children, but it is their fear of the Madronians that protects you. They are forced to respect the ritual. I'm glad you never noticed their secret doubts." His sigh deflates his chest like a violet curls beneath a fingertip. "I've trained you hard to prove your equality and value. To prove declaration is effective so that other firstborn girls might be saved as well."

The table jars as I kick, kick, kick the leg. Father finds my foot and holds it still beneath his own boot. The uneven pebbles press through my sole.

"Well, why don't we just rebel against the Madronians?" I blurt.

"Tiadone," he sighs. "I know I'm the one who has fueled your hatred and anger for the Madronians—"

"As is right, Father."

"But now it is time to accept our situation. It's time as you ready for Perimeter service."

"But what of rebellion?"

He snorts. "What sort of rebellion could you expect from highdesert goat herders, spinners, and farmers?"

"But you—"

"I have done what I can by raising you. You suggest military revolt now? It takes all we have to meet Madronian taxes and bend to their false religion. Everyone lying under the sweeping skirt of these people is drained."

My exasperation wobbles the oil flame. "But we have the rapion, birds that work with us for survival."

"And the Madronians don't. And because the birds have always refused to join them, plain jealousy makes for further oppression." He rubs the rim of the lamp. "Jealousy."

I swear beneath my breath.

Father glances at his javelin by the door. "And then there's still the danger along the border of the Triumverate: cat, sandstorm, or further invasion. There's the C'shah to the east, the Porites to the north, or the—"

"I know," I snip.

He grasps the back of his neck. "Eventually, Tiadone, you will understand our oppression and know there is nothing more R'tanians can do."

I prop my forehead in my hands. Priest Sleene flits through my mind: his pasty skin, his scent of decay, and his musty wings. Fear slices up my back like chipped obsidian.

Father covers the table's shallow fissures with his palms. His square jaw ripples. "There's no more, Tiadone. Just bow and worship as the Madronians dictate, and we will continue to live on our ancestors' land as they did."

What? How are false religion and murder life for the R'tan? Why does our Creator Spirit permit this? "How am I living like our ancestors, Father? I'm made to live as a male when I was born a fe—"

He cuts through my prohibited words with his gravelly, deep voice. "There's nothing new here, Tiadone. It's time to acquiesce, to survive. We'll focus on the upcoming change with peaceful thoughts. Your rapion will accept you, and together you will serve well." He glances at the glimmer of my turquoise egg beneath my wrap. "Still your mind, now, and ready for bed."

Father pinches his tongue between his thumb and forefinger and kills the flame. Darkness grabs me from all sides.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover. Copyright © 2014 Lorie Ann Grover. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This was a unique story that reminded me a little of the Hunger

    This was a unique story that reminded me a little of the Hunger Games. It was interesting learning about her world and experiencing these new circumstances with her. Tiadone was isolated from people for much of the story and while I liked her bird, there was a lot of description of it's movements that bogged me down a little. They were the main characters and it was a little hard to not have that dialogue back and forth instead of just one-sided. I felt bad for her and all the hardship she had to go through, but what kept me going was the hope of a happily-ever-after. I was a bit conflicted about the ending. I liked part of it, but was disappointed in another part and wondered if there might be a sequel? There was quite a bit of action and the chapters were very short, so it was easy to find places to pause. I felt the story got a bit sensual or suggestive in a few spots and thought it went too far in one. I did like the spiritual struggle Tiadone goes through and thought the conflict between her people's beliefs in a Creator and their captors' worship of a bird was interesting to see. It felt like more could have been done with that in relation to her friend. Overall, it was interesting and if you really like dystopian or science fiction, you might like it.

    I received a free ARC of this book from Blink books in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted May 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I want to thank Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this b

    I want to thank Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review.




    Blurb from Goodreads:
    Tiadone has been forced to live her entire life as a female accepted as male in her community in order to survive as a firstborn child. But when she needs to pass the rites of manhood, she finds the Creator may have use for her feminine traits after all.




    Upon reading the blurb for this book, I thought it would be interesting. A girl who must disguise herself as a boy or she would be killed. I can only imagine the struggle that would ensue. Tiadone was born female, but she was claimed as male so that she could live (as firstborn females are put to death otherwise). We follow her as she takes the steps to become a productive member of society through specialized training with weapons and intermingling with the other boys turning to men. Except Tiadone must hide all her female traits to be accepted. And she never really feels truly accepted. Why would she? She's female and grows breasts and has her first bleed while training.




    I have to say that the story was an interesting one, but really there's not much to it. You follow Tiadone through her required service, but nothing truly happens. She finds herself attracted to some of the boys around her, but knows she can't act on it for fear of being put to death and causing her family shame and imprisonment. I was rather bored for most of the book waiting for something to happen. It's quite repetitive in it's descriptions.




    I really couldn't connect with any of the character, even the main one. She was quite flat and to be honest, I didn't really feel or see her change all that much (even thought the story drags you through her changes in her life). I did see her become stronger, but other than that, she spent much of the time confused. She has an interesting relationship with her bird, Mirko.




    The book is well written with detailed descriptions of the landscape and characters. The world building is well done, although I do question some of the motives behind the people who have condemned Tiadones people to give up their firstborn girl. The chapters are rather short, so the book gives nice places to put it down and pick it back up easily. The book is very bound in gendercide as well as religious beliefs and how people are persecuted for them.




    The ending was a bit disappointing for me. I like the Tiadone comes into herself, but there is so much left unsaid and undone, I feel like it needed a better wrap up for me. It was rather lackluster. For those who enjoy a dystopian type/fantasy read this might be up your ally but beware the very religious undertones.

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  • Posted March 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I liked this book, but I think the ending left quite a lot to be

    I liked this book, but I think the ending left quite a lot to be desired. There is promise to this story, and it was just left hanging. I don’t know if that was intended because there will be a sequel or if it was meant for the readers to imagine their own ending.

    Hopefully the former, because I’d really like to see where Tia and Ratho end up.

    Tia, whose father chose to raise her as a “declared male” so that she could live, has willfully and purposefully suppressed all her femininity to this point in her life. And has done so amazingly well, because that’s all she’s known. She goes on to confront and succeed over every societal expectation of her failure. She finally arrives at the realization that mere men can’t suppress what God and nature intended, and she begins to accept all that she has and will become.

    Fortunately, the love she has for her best friend is reciprocated, although only after some mystical visions shown to Ratho by Tia’s rapion, Mirko. The relationship aspect between the adolescents in this book and their rapions (birds, similar to raptors) are a unique idea, and I really enjoyed how this author explored it. I found myself to be quite sad at the releasings and could feel the sense of pain these kids experienced when losing their partners.

    There were so many good parts to this book that I really don’t want to give it a 3. However, I feel like there could have been so much more. Tia has such a strength of character, and a great relationship with her father, and Ratho, and Mirko, that I felt there was so much more to their story than the way it ended. I guess I feel jilted, and I want to know more. If I knew this was a first in a series, then I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a 4, because I would know there is more coming. As it is, I think this author potentially cheated herself and her readers from a truly excellent and thought-provoking conclusion.

    Rating: 3

    HEAT Rating: None

    Reviewed By: Daysie W.

    Review Courtesy of: My Book Addiction and More

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    I received this Advanced Reading Copy from Blink. Firstborn was

    I received this Advanced Reading Copy from Blink.
    Firstborn was a very different story. Set in a world where first born females are viewed as unworthy, Tiadone tries desperately to prove that she is worthy, after her parents declared her male . When her parents declared her male the day she was born, neither realized the decisions they had made for her: one being that she would never marry.
    Not only must Tiadone overcome her "declared maleness," but she must also conquer her own feminism. Tiadone feels attracted to her best friend, which isn’t a good thing in the Madronian world. Through the story, Tiadone struggles with being a believer in the Creator Spirit, while the Madronians believe in a birdlike god called the Four-Winged Condor. She also deals with one of the questions that many people have: "Why God?" The discovery and acceptance of her true faith helps Tiadone accomplish much.
    To be honest, the story started out very slow and I sympathized with Tiadone because of all of the attacks made on her. About half way through the book though, the tale picked up pace and ended up leaving me hanging at the end.
    I liked the characters in this book very much. One of the main characters in Firstborn was Tiadone’s bird, Mirko. At birth, each person is assigned an egg, which can be one of two types: Miniata, the females’ rapion and Signico, the males’ rapion. Because Tiadone was declared male at birth, she was given the slightly bigger Signico. Mirko is her constant companion. As the time for the two to separate draws nearer, the reader can feel the strong connection between bird and human. It was easy to understand the sorrow that would be felt by the two at their Severation Ceremony.
    Overall this was a wonderful tale of faith, friendship, love, and family. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a female warrior character.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    This book is about a young boy, actually a girl, who grows up in

    This book is about a young boy, actually a girl, who grows up in a world where first born
    children must be males. If a child born is a female the parents must declare her a male to
    save her life. This book takes you on the twist and turns of living as a declared male in this society.

    I can honestly say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It really showed the struggle some
    feel when they feel they must pretend to be someone they are not. I felt connected to the character
     and had a hard time putting the book down to do my homework (oops). The only “problem” I found
    with the book it jumps spans of time and it seemed rushed at time. I would defiantly recommend this
    book to someone who enjoys function books, most defiantly to young a adult because it teaches a lesson.
     This lesson is that no matter how hard you try you can not suppress who you really are, you must be true to
    yourself and embrace who you are. 

    I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program.
     I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing
    this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the
    Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”»

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing and fast-paced, this book will be sure to hold your a

    Engrossing and fast-paced, this book will be sure to hold your attention. Whether it is in the future or in another dimension, the reader is thrust into an unusual world of oppression. Firstborn females are either left for dead or forced to live life as males (“declared” as the book calls it). Tiadone is one of those declared males. She lives her whole life with an amulet on her hip. It holds her father’s hair and a desert cat’s heart in it. This—she is told—gives her masculine power to overcome her femininity. In this strange world, people get birds that live with them for part of their lives. The birds grow up with their humans and serve them. As this animal-human friendship grows, it is severed once the oppressive government regime says so. Tiadone’s bird Mirko is unique in that it sings and communicates with Tiadone through vision. Ratho, Tidaon’s best friend and fellow worker, has a bird named Thae. As both characters age, they feel an attraction that they are not allowed to have. Subtle romance is worked into the book in a way that is not graphic. As Tiadone and Ratho serve their government, religious tension ensues. Tiadone worships the Creator Spirit (which is forbidden by state law), while Ratho worships the Four-Winged-Condor (which is promoted by state law). Tiadone is forced to question every aspect of her life as she lives a lie. The reader will sympathize with Tiadone when she really believes her amulet will make her male. While I am not sure if the author intentionally was making comparisons, I will say that Tiadone’s experiences reminded me of the Holocaust. Not in the sense of genocide but rather in the great religious oppression, the shaving of heads, and the abuse. Also, the worship of the Four-Winged-Condor was reminiscent of Christianity. [Tiadone is forced to participate in a ceremony where a priest puts a wafer on her tongue and gives her wine to drink. Also, at one part in the book, the government’s religious institution is accused of worshipping a created being.] I will not spoil the ending of this book, but I will say there will be despair and victory at the same time. Tiadone will question her faith and if there is even a God at all. She will learn what it means to let go of friends and family. Tiadone will lose some of her dreams but come out more alive than ever. This book will make you think what your true priorities are and what lives you may be living with. It will make women embrace their identity as female and learn what true love is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    My friend is obsessed with dystopian and post-apocalyptic young

    My friend is obsessed with dystopian and post-apocalyptic young adult novels. She likes to give me lists of her favorites, and one of those, a newer one, is FIRSTBORN. I was thrilled to receive a copy of FIRSTBORN by Lorie Ann Grover from Thomas Nelson via Booksneeze. At first, I was worried this would be a bit cliché – girl disguised as a boy. I quickly learned that wasn’t the case.

    The world building was spectacular. I really felt as if I was there with the main character, Tiadone. Her world is dominated by men and they feel that women are worthless. Firstborn females are put to death. One race conquered another and have forced their ways upon them. I loved how that topic was incorporated, since that has happened all across history.

    I enjoyed the fast pace, the energy that empowered each page. Many of the chapters were short so they kept me reading up until late at night. I also liked how it felt as though it existed in the past, rather than as a dystopian. It is, however, still a dystopian. I highly recommend this for young adults, as it help to make people think about what self-worth is really about.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    Language: 0. Other objectionable: Rude joking, mention of the w

    Language: 0.

    Other objectionable: Rude joking, mention of the whole leaving-babies-to-die practice, a fight with a wild cat (some injuries described), and a few romantic scenes.

    Suitable for: This is Christian YA, so highschoolers would enjoy it.  Adults would too, I guess.

    Pros: I liked Tiadone's character.  In many ways she reminded me of Cassia, the female protagonist in the Matched series by Ally Condie. In fact, a lot of things in Firstborn reminded me of that series, now that I think about it. If you haven't read that series, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Well, just know that Tiadone is very brave and is always trying to do the right thing, but is also a little scared sometimes. And that what the main thing I liked about this book.

    Cons: Well, I found myself being confused about what was happening, frankly, all the time. I was always having to look back a few pages and ask "where in the world did that person come from?" or "what are they doing now, again?" and that got very old, very fast. So yeah.  I didn't really understand the plot, either. To me, the book ended too quickly with a lot of unresolved problems.  I think it could have gone on for another 100 pages.  Yeah, I know I'm weird. I get upset when books don't do themselves justice by being too short. :)

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  • Posted February 15, 2014

    THANK YOU TO BLINK YA BOOKS BY ZONDERVAN FOR AN ADVANCED RE





    THANK YOU TO BLINK YA BOOKS BY ZONDERVAN FOR AN ADVANCED READER'S COPY OF THIS BOOK!

    First of all, I was amazed at what this was about. I didn't know what to expect, but it looked really good. I haven't read a book that was this good in a long time. It was really very good and I was able to never put it down. I was up until late last night reading this book until I finished it. I was highly disappointed in finishing it because I want to read more.
    There were a few mistakes, but that was expected as it was an ARC. Overall it was very well written, although it was fairly easy. I believe young tween/teen girls would enjoy this book as well as boys, although there are some parts that are VERY much girls only I would think.
    It is one of the best books I have read in a long time and I believe that people will enjoy this book for a long time to come.
    I gave this book five out of five stars because it was well written and I was able to put myself in Tiadone's shoes. It was very relatable and the energy was kept up throughout the book even though it wasn't particularly an adventure book.

    Tiadone was born female, but because her people have been taken over by another people that don't believe in first born females, she was declared male from birth. As Tiadone struggles with who she is and how she should live her life, she gains a new friend, as well as an old one. Truths come out about who her people really are and what, not just who, she is.

    I was really hoping that Ratho would have a bigger part in the book, as he was my favorite character. It didn't happen, but that is okay, because I think it worked out in the end.'

    I believe that the author, Lorie Ann Grover, has left it open for a sequel, but don't start anything because I DEFINITELY do not know that for sure, AT ALL! It was a good ending as it was, but options are always open.

    This book was beautifully written and I look forward to reading more from this author.(

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This book is okay. Though I do not really get this plot of the b

    This book is okay. Though I do not really get this plot of the book. You get a look of what a girl has to do though and live in this society that was dominated by men. You also get a look at what a boy has to go though. Tiadrone struggles with herself and her female. Their are trials that Tiadrone goes though. She also finds the truth as well.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Zonderkidz-Books and Netgalley.)
    Tiadone is a girl who is forced to live as a boy. In a society where first born girls are left to die, Tiadone’s father declared her male, and a special amulet hides her femininity from the world.
    Now grown, Tiadone must take her special bird and go off to defend her home, the way that all first-born males must.
    How long can Tiadone hide that she is female? And will she never be able to fall in love and have children of her own?


    This book was a bit of an acquired taste, and I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.

    I felt quite sorry for Tiadone, it was so wrong that she had to pretend to be a boy all her life, especially when she realised that she was in love but couldn’t be with the person she was in love with because she was supposed to be a boy. I admired her strength, but I also thought she was right to tell her father that he should have taken her to live somewhere else rather than declaring her male.

    The storyline in this was fairly straight forward. Tiadone had to overcome the challenges of pretending to be a boy, and also had to overcome the challenges of defending her home the way that all the males did.
    I thought that this book was written in quite an interesting way, and there was adequate world building etc. I just didn’t really enjoy this one. The topic was a little strange, the world where Tiadone lived was a difficult world to live in, and the story just wasn’t really my cup of tea. I think that other people would enjoy this, but it just didn’t call out to me.
    The ending was okay, and I liked how Tiadone managed to rescue someone important at the end. I did find parts of this book confusing, but I was happy that Tiadone felt that she had found her place.
    Overall; a very different story about a girl who has to pretend to be a boy in the society in which she lives.
    5 out of 10.

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