book highlight: The First Sister, by Linden A. Lewis

I was a bit scared I wouldn’t get to give 5 stars to at least one book in February, and then The First Sister came right at the end and told me not to worry. I have a lot of feelings when it comes to this book, and I hope my review will do it justice!

The First Sister is a space opera novel that was released in 2020. It follows three main characters: First Sister (she/her), Lito (he/him), and Hiro (they/them). The book opens with First Sister: she’s part of the so-called Sisterhood, which is not only a holy order but also has for goal to make soldiers feel content. The sisters are forced to say yes to anything the soldiers of Earth and Mars ask of them, be it redemption or their very own body. The only way for a sister not to belong to the soldiers is to belong to the captain of the ship they’re a part of and be the First Sister. Then we have Lito and Hiro, a team of soldiers part of the enemy nation—Venus. Lito and Hiro have been training and spending all their together since they were 10 until Hiro betrays their nation and Lito is forced to go after them and kill them. Here’s your basic premise for The First Sister.

I immediately felt attached to our three main characters. I honestly cannot choose a favourite, and this doesn’t happen very often. They’re all very different, have their own writing style, their own characteristics, and it made differencing them so easy! First Sister is strong and willing to do anything to protect herself. Lito is so dedicated to his sister and finding the truth about Hiro. And Hiro….where do I even start with them? They’re dedicated to justice, and their chapters probably were my favourites. I loved the recording format, it haded depth to the story, as Hiro talks about his childhood memories, memories that are very much linked to Lito.

This story is a commentary on war and colonialism. It shows entire populations conquering other planets and going at war to just have more, always more, and how they simply disregard native populations and the way they treat them. The theme of justice is extremely important in the story, as you follow our three main characters trying to do what’s right and understanding what it’d mean for them not to speak against the current leaders. They might technically be on different sides, but they all work toward the same goal: peace.

The First Sister is also unapologetically queer. First Sister is described as being bisexual, there’s a seemingly f/f relationship, and our wonderful bb Hiro is non-binary. It’s not a book that shows characters coming to terms with their sexuality or gender, it’s a book that says, ‘that’s who we are, and you can either accept it or fuck off.’ It’s glorious.

The book ends on a semi-cliffhanger that will make you desperate for the second one to be released now (is it August yet?).

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