Lorie Ann Glover. Grand Rapids: Blink, 2014. 292 pp.
During the time of invaded lands where the fierce desert cat prowled and the rapion dwelled, a society of people flourished...living as their ancestors before them. Forced under Madronian rule, the R'tans quash their faith in the Creator Spirit to survive. According to Madronian belief, the firstborn child, no matter the number of offspring birthed, possesses the greatest strength; which can only come by way of a man child. Those firstborn not of the male gender are left to die outside the village walls, but there is an alternative to life—assume a male identity and forever forsake a womanly existence.
Facing many challenges as the first declared male to come of age, Tiadone falls under further scrutiny once her rapion, Mirko, voices his song. Notwithstanding the extra attention, she aces the male initiation ceremony and sets off imbued with the Smoke of Sending, plus the power of her amulet—a pouch containing the heart of a desert cat wrapped in her father's hair coils—for her mandated year of border patrol. Shunned by her best friend and unaccepted by all, but one patroller upon reaching Perimeter, Tiadone must pull on the strength within herself to perform her duty. To spare their daughter's life, they declared her male, but a female life will not be suppressed.
Despite being well-written and the promising premise, the story failed to captivate me. I didn't form an attachment to any of the characters, although I did love the connection between Tiadone and Mirko. My first thought upon completing the book—unfinished. The conclusion seemed more like a beginning for Tiadone rather than an ending. Though her visions, albeit a feminine trait, allow her to save her baby sister; the book ends before Tiadone's purpose is revealed, unless her only purpose is to reclaim her femininity by saving and raising her sister.
It would have been nice to have a picture of the rapion somewhere in the book. As hard I tried (sigh), I don't think I envisioned the rapion exactly as described—a pity because I found the bird quite fascinating, each born with their own distinctive fragrance. The desert cat and Sloane should have been fleshed out a little more. Besides learning that the desert cat is "as big as a man" and that the heart "purportedly" carries power, I obtain no other knowledge about the ferocious feline. Grover did an excellent job introducing readers to Sloane; however, how does his character evolve during the story? What happened to him after he performed that vile ritual? Was he or wasn't he embolden with the power of the rapion? Did anybody else discover his grotesque activities? Overall, Firstborn is a good read...it just needs a bit of fleshing out to be great.
I won this book as part of the Firstborn Book Launch Party.