Book review: The First Sister, by Linden A. Lewis

LEWIS, LINDEN A. The First Sister (The First Sister Trilogy #1) Gallery Books. 08/2020. $26.00. Hardcover. 9781982126995

The Sisterhood exists for the pleasure, comfort, and absolution of the men aboard the battleship Juno, charting a course through the stars between Earth and Mars. All except the First Sister. Though silent and nameless as the rest of the women of the sisterhood, First Sister is protected by the captain of the ship, blanketed by their favor. But when the captain of Juno retires, and leaves First Sister behind despite promising to take her with him, First Sister has a new job: get into the graces of the new captain, and follow through on her orders to spy on the new captain by the leader of the Sisterhood. As she gets closer to the new captain, Saito Ren, First Sister finds herself torn between protecting the woman she’s coming to love or betraying the Sisterhood and all aboard the Juno.

On the ground, Lito val Lucious, an elite fighter for Cytherea, is mourning the loss of his partner Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro may not have perished, but instead has become a traitor to Cytherea and must be killed, Lito is given a new partner with which to complete his mission. But Hiro has left behind a message for Lito, one in which they explain why they’ve defected, and asks that Lito stay away for his own safety. But Lito isn’t sure what to believe anymore.

Described by Simon & Schuster as “part high-flying space opera, part twisty, compelling drama, and part topical commentary,” The First Sister delivers on every note. Casually queer in all of the best ways and tackling race, power, silence, and loyalty, this debut series is perfectly paced and wonderfully thrilling. There are no shortage of cliff-hangars and reveals, twists and shifts in alliance, all happening in a world populated by compelling and diverse characters, with voices that will resonate long past the final chapter. The world building is intentional and cautious, mercifully free of large info-dumps or unnecessary exposition. Running underneath the action-packed plot, is the question of who gets to speak, how they will be heard, and if they will be believed.

In the author’s words: “I think you’ll enjoy this book if you also enjoy: The Expanse and Red Rising, but wanted to see queer characters up front and center. The Handmaid’s Tale, but in space. You want sapphic ladies? You got sapphic ladies. You want explosions in space? Boom!” This is a book that will leave you itching for the next installment, rooting for your favorite characters (or couples), and impatient to jump back into this world.

The First Sister is the debut novel by queer writer Linden A. Lewis, and is the first in a trilogy.

Nadia M Sahi


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