Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First (Live Once) / Chanda Stafford

Reviewed by: Fredlet

Genre: YA/ Dystopian

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


“Chanda Stafford teaches middle and high school English. She loves traveling and currently lives in Michigan with her husband and a menagerie of rescued dogs and cats. When she’s not reading or writing, Chanda enjoys old zombie movies, authentic Italian food, and comic books.”

You can find out more about the author on her website or facebook page.


“Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.

With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.”


It usually takes me a few pages or chapters to get involved with and drawn into a new book. From the moment you meet Adrian, as he is waiting to become a Second; your mind whirls with questions about Firsts, Seconds, being Absolved, and what is going on in our future world. Mira, like her cousin Adrian and other children from farms in Texas, has been chosen as a Second by a First…the first of the Firsts. The author does a fine job of keeping the secret of being Absolved from you, then using the plot to slowly make you aware of what is happening. I loved Mira’s spunky spirit and could feel her confusion and anxiety about which path she should take—her decisions complicated by her desire to protect her younger brother Max, live the life she wants, and bring honor to her family. One last meeting to say good-bye to Tanner changes everything.

I enjoyed the many beautiful descriptive phrases for the settings used in this story, such as “crickets and frogs sing a melody to which only they know the lyrics.” The comparison which Mira makes about a captive fox she releases and her own situation is perfectly conveyed. The tension in the story is palpable. Each plot line the author develops creates terror or uncertainty for Mira, and for you as a reader.  She has far more guts than I did as a seventeen- year-old. Socrates is a mesmerizing character, and I wonder what it would be like to live as he does. It was interesting finding out what it means to be a First and the process of becoming a Second. The servant, Will, introduced in the first chapter and reappearing later, grabbed my attention along with Mira’s. Is his role really just protecting and serving Seconds and Firsts…or something else. Before the Release Ceremony can be completed, lies and secrets are revealed and surprising decisions are made. The author’s writing style had my eyes glued to the pages for the last 20% of the story—waiting to see what was going to happen.

I look forward to continuing this trilogy to find out what the future is with Mira, and seeing how the political situation unfolds between the free citizens, the government’s control, the role of the Firsts, and the threat from the Lifers.


This book is the beginning of a trilogy. I found the ending fitting with just enough to pull me into reading the next in the series.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

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Chanda Stafford said...

Thank you for taking the time to review my book. I really appreciate it!

Win said...

You're welcome! I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next in the trilogy.

Unknown said...

My stop on the tour is next week; just finished the book yesterday.

I've been trying to figure out how to write my review without ruining it with spoilers - there are so many things that simply have to be experienced - and am happy that I stopped by to see how you handled it.

Nicely written, as always. (I may not comment, but I'm a bit of a lurker; enjoy reading your reviews.)

BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for the comment, Julie. I'm sure Fredlet appreciates the comment. We know there are a lot of lurkers out there and we appreciate them, but love it when they decide to come out of the shadows and comment. :)

Fredlet said...

Thanks for your comment, Julie! It's nice to meet a fellow lurker. :D I put a lot of effort into keeping spoilers out of my reviews. Nothing disappoints me more than reading a review which includes surprises I want to find out for myself as I read the book.