Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to someone else.
In this future forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world's population, life is valued above all else. The mentally ill are sterilized, abortions are illegal and those who refuse to donate an organ when told are sentenced to death.
Determined not to give up her kidney or die, Kelsey enlists the help of her boyfriend Luke and a dodgy doctor to escape. The trio must disable the tracking chip in her arm for her to flee undetected. If they fail, Kelsey will be stripped of everything.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We are proud to announce that LIFE FIRST by RJ Crayton is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth their time and money!
This is one of those novels that uses a disturbing possible future to make us think critically about our present and ourselves. After a pandemic kills the majority of the population, life has become sacred, something to be guarded at all costs. If someone needs an new organ, for example, the huge medical database finds whoever is the best match, and that citizen must give the organ. Kelsey, marked for a kidney transplant, decides that it should be her choice, so she tries to run away before the surgery. This introduces a host of ethical questions: Is Kelsey right or wrong? Selfish or not? Is the well-being of society more important than the rights of the individual? Is the government justified? Is saving one life worth the risk to another? I love how Crayton doesn't hesitate to give good arguments for the others side—sometimes even better than the main character's—so we're never sure what to think. I wish Kelsey had stuck to her position more, and made a stand, because these issues fade somewhat after the first part of the book. However, even her choice to back off is interesting. She doesn't try to change the world. She tries to save herself. And again I wonder: selfish or not? The world-building is good. I like the offhand references to survival statistics classes that seem to be the norm for school children. There are also a few believability issues, but most derive from the what-ifs of a society like this, so they're up for debate. Repetition and over-explanation at times slow the pace. The few errors or oddities in language and mechanics don't really interfere with enjoyment, as the book is well written overall. In the middle, the narrative takes a turn. It becomes a legal drama with lots of talk and little action. Some people might not like this, but I did, and congratulate Crayton for going where the story would go, instead of bowing to the Hollywood-action-at-all-costs mantra. The courtrooms scenes are full of twisty logic, clever arguments, and verbal traps. Very engaging. During this section, Kelsey doesn't really do much. She's just an observer, thinking and reacting but making few choices. Again, some readers might not like this, but it works here, and communicates the helplessness of not being in control. The ending is satisfying while leaving some questions unanswered for the sequel, Second Life. Though Life First isn't directly about a specific current issue, readers can draw many uncomfortable and thought-provoking parallels. This is what good speculative fiction should do, and Life First accomplishes the task.
I would like to thank author RJ Crayton and The Cover Contessa for granting me the chance to read this e-book in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influenced this review. <blockquote>Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to someone else. In this future forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world's population, life is valued above all else. The government of "Life First" requires the mentally ill to be sterilized, outlaws abortions and sentences to death those who refuse to donate an organ when told. Determined not to give up her kidney, Kelsey enlists the help of her boyfriend Luke and a dodgy doctor to escape. The trio must disable the tracking chip in her arm for her to flee undetected. If they fail, Kelsey will be stripped of everything. * This is an Awesome Indies Approved book.</blockquote> I wasn't quite sure what to make if this book in the beginning, but within a few short pages I was hooked. Ms. Clayton has envisioned a horrifying future that comes in a pretty package. A future where the individual is less important than the society as a whole. In some strange way this society's reaction to the plague that decimated 80% of the global population makes sense. Or should I say made sense. After the plague people had to band together if they wanted humanity to survive. After years of relearning much of the knowledge lost with the bulk of the world's population things are beginning to level off. Yet it is clear that the terror still lurks in the hearts of all who live in FoSS and follow the "Life First" mandate. This mandate may well have saved humanity from extinction, yet now the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction. If you are discovered to be a donor match you must automatically undergo surgery and give away your organ to the match, regardless of if you know them or not. Kelsey grew up without her mother for most of her life, but she never really knew the truth behind her mother's death until she meets Dr. Grant. He turns out to be a throwback to the pre-plague era, believing in the Hippocratic Oath rather than Life First, because Life First doesn't abide by the whole "do no harm" ethic. He gives her a video her mother made minutes before dying - and it turns out her mother didn't need to die if only the doctor that Grant was working for had listened when Dr. Grant said he knew what was causing Kelsey's mother such distress, and how to fix it. Her mother's message really hit home for Kelsey, especially since her best friend Susan had been marked for a routine bone marrow transplant. Susan went in and she underwent the surgery like a good citizen, but she developed an infection that left her paralyzed from the waist down. This had the effect of really cooling Kelsey's jets on Life First, since they only cared that Susan was alive, but were totally unconcerned with her radical loss of quality of life. Kelsey elects to escape to a free country where Life First isn't an issue. However she made this choice after being marked, which made her an automatic felon. And once she is caught while running she learns that had she stayed and submit she would have been disqualified because she was pregnant. Kelsey has strong moral convictions and tries to stand by them in the face of overwhelming odds. She also tries to be strong for her loved ones, not wanting to cause them any further pain or public harm. Even though she occasionally loses her cool, she always manages to pull herself back together. Of course she has the help of her beloved, her wonderful father, and her Uncle Albert. Without them she simply doesn't know what she'd do. This story arc is smooth and well written, pacing the characters and their development nicely. And the moral dilemmas being posed aren't given any pat answers, but rather put forth for the reader to think on, and hopefully come to their own terms with the choices, or lack thereof. I truly enjoyed having the duality of the story and the issues under consideration, for they complimented each other beautifully and gave this story an added dimension and depth that it, and I, most certainly benefited from.
I’ve had a good run of dystopian novels lately. Life First continues that trend. A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia and typically a dystopian novel will extrapolate a current social or political movement taken to an extreme. Crayton’s extrapolated future struck me as different from most which, at the risk of getting too political, I’ll explain. Although the future extrapolated in a dystopian novel is typically thought to be a warning against continuing in a particular direction, many are nothing more than slippery slope arguments. The slippery slope argument often seems rational, but is usually a logical fallacy when used as a justification against taking the first step. (If you want to understand why, Google will uncover several good explanations.) Life First was different for reasons I couldn’t quite pinpoint until I finished the book and took time to reflect. The biggest reason is the slippery slope argument isn’t there. Those who are arguing in real life to take the first steps (at least in the US) of limiting abortion with an eye to eradicating it completely are the same people who would object the loudest to the next steps, forcing someone to donate an “unneeded kidney” for example. Even if other events happened in between (a pandemic that wiped out 80% of the world’s population, in this story) I’m not sure that those who are for the first steps would ever support the next steps. Yet, the logic to justify the first steps (the sanctity of life) seems to apply at least as much to the additional steps. For me, the “warning” wasn’t needed, but did prompt some reflection and gave me new insights on the issue being explored, which is another kind of success. But none of the subtext matters unless the story is good. This one was. I was drawn into Kelsey’s plight and cared how it ended. It also prompted questions about how I would react if put in the same position and how far I’d be willing to go in defense of my position. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Kelsey, as a character, is a hard read. Are we supposed to like her and admire her pluck or are we to see her as a selfish person for wanting the choice to do what she will with her body. Is this a theme meant to translate to the reader? The idealism of youth and the idea that one’s responsibility is solely to oneself. As the story develops the character blossoms and the audience is able to get to know her and identify with her to an extent. Her society is pro-life to an extreme; she’s not willing to embrace and for some readers Life First may feel a timely read. It’s up to the reader to decide if Kelsey’s stand is brave or stupid and they might just relate that struggle to themselves. Crayton’s plotting and writing style are very fluid. Descriptions are, for the most part, compactly written and designed to give the reader an eye-in-the-sky kind of feel. If there are errors in the work, I didn’t spot them. Life First is very cleanly and professionally presented. That this is the first novel Crayton has written is astonishing especially as journalists used to writing facts, in my experience, tend to be somewhat wooden when they start writing. Reader see none of those traits in Life First. If you are a fan of dystopian novels but would prefer an older protagonist, Life First is the novel for you.
I couldn't put this book down. It was riveting from beginning to end. Kelsey's plight as she fled a forced kidney operation kept me on the edge of my seat. But, there wasn't just the fleeing, there was this great relationship with the boyfriend. And there were all sorts of issues to make you think: organ transplantation, abortion, rights for the mentally ill. This is a must-read.