Life First

Rated 4.00/5 based on 5 reviews
"The prospect of being the human parts drawer society reaches into to cure its neediest patients would drive anyone mad." - Kelsey Reed, Life First

Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to a stranger. More
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About RJ Crayton

R.J. Crayton grew up in Illinois and now lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She is the author of the Life First series of novels, which includes Life First and Second Life. Prior to writing fiction, Crayton was a journalist, writing for newspapers, including the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star. Crayton also worked for several trade publications, including Solid Waste Report, Education Technology News, and Campus Crime. Her first novels were published in 2013. The third novel in the Life First series, and a short story collection (Four Mothers), will be released in 2014. Crayton is a monthly contributor to the Indies Unlimited blog ( and a regular contributor to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies blog ( When she's not writing, Crayton spends her time being a ninja mom (stealthy and ultra cool, like moms should be) to her son and daughter. You can find out more about her at

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Reviews of Life First by RJ Crayton

beemo4 reviewed on March 4, 2015

Life First is about choices told through the eyes of the main character, Kelsey. If you read the synopsis there really isn't a reason to read the book. The premise of a society removing all individual choice to promote the greater good was solid, RJ Crayton just didn't get there with this story, at least the first book. Escaping a compulsory organ donation and the capture and trial after just wasn't entertaining for me. The first person point of view didn't allow me to feel for the characters and I kept expecting more back story on why society got so bad. The little snippets about the pandemics just seemed light and I felt something major was missing. If you are looking for something light and lacking depth, then this book will give it to you. If you are looking for something 1984-ish then keep looking.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
chucklesthescot reviewed on March 25, 2014

*I received a free copy of this book from the author through Making Connections in exchange for an honest review*

Kelsey is young, healthy and happy until she is told that she must donate her kidney to a stranger. Scared that the procedure could disable or kill her, Kelsey decides to run away, knowing that if she is caught she will go to prison and her organs will all be harvested until she is dead.

This book turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting-in a good way. It is a story that will get people talking because this society has very clear ideas about Life First-abortion is illegal,women are put at risk to try and save the baby,organ donation is compulsory and those who refuse are regarded as murderers and killed for their organs. It will get emotions running high depending on where you stand on these issues. I don't let my personal opinions affect me when I read a book and I didn't have any problem with the book or its content.

The characters are all well written and you can really feel for them as they face each emotional incident. I really liked Dr Grant, Susan and Kelsey's father as they all add real emotion and depth to the plot. It's easy for readers on one side of the divide to think Kelsey is selfish but when you get deep into her story it does challenge you to think what you would do with her history. The plot was really well worked with lots of twists and surprises that keep you hooked. I expected this to just be one of these on-the-run dramas but it was so much more than that. There was depth, drama, tension and action in this book that I didn't expect. The storytelling was done beautifully, and you can't help but care what happens to everyone involved.

I don't really have a negative on the book. I liked the way the author presented the story, the plot was good, the characters interesting and 'real', and a society that was different. Pehaps an epilogue would have been nice to tie up what happened to everyone but that's me being a bit picky. A good dystopian read for adult and NA/older YA to read.

If I could, this would be 3.5 out of 5.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)
Veronica Sievers reviewed on July 27, 2013

What would you do if your choices where taken away from you when it comes to having surgery to have an organ removed?

Me I would run like a mad women. I have had surgery once to have my gallbladder removed and was scared to death before hand.

That is what happened to Kelsey Reed a young, strong-willed, healthy girl that was told that she must undergo surgery to have one of her kidneys to save the life of a stranger. Scared by this news she goes on the run. Why run you would ask why not just say no well for Kelsey that is impossible. After a large portion of the human population is wiped out it becomes illegal to have an abortion, if you are mentally ill you are sterilized and if you are a match to someone who needs an organ you are forced to give up that organ otherwise you are sentenced to death. Will Kelsey get away or will she have to give up her kidney? Will she find anyone who is sympathetic to her situation?
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)
J M Brown reviewed on July 7, 2013

If someone you loved needed a kidney, would you donate one of yours?
Would you do the same for an anonymous stranger?
What if the law took the choice away from you and compelled you to donate?

Not the first book to raise the question of how much we owe our fellow man, but this book does so in what seems to me to be an original way.
The characters were varied, interesting and believable. Very well written, excellent pacing and suspense. The author has a good ear for natural dialog.

(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
Crystal Wright reviewed on June 28, 2013

I recieved an e-copy of Life First, in exchange for my honest opinon. I received no other compensation.

What would you do if it was your civil responsibility to donate one of your organs to whomever needed it and was a match? What if the government in exchange for your inclusion as a citizen was contingent on giving up the right to choose if you are willing to donate? What if you were considered a criminal or a sociopath for refusing? At what point is being a citizen give away the rights to your own body?

In Life First, RJ Crayton, takes you to the post pandemic United States renamed FoSS . The citizens of FoSS rebuilt the society with the basis of a life first mantra, with the number one priority of all those who live in the society to be life of all above your individual choice. Individuals are not given the choice as to whether or not they donate organs, it is mandated and once your marked, failure to comply is criminal. The book begins with the female protagonist Kelsey Reed marked for surgery as another citizen of FoSS is sick and needs a kidney transplant. Kelsey doesn't know this person, nor has any tie to them and in her heart of hearts she feels it is wrong to be forced to give up a piece of herself.

I felt a instant connection with the character of Kelsey, I felt as though the author painted a picture of her as being a good person willing to go above and beyond, however not willing to compromise on her personal beliefs. In this she is a very strong character despite her described stature and age. At 23, Kelsey takes on the established system and with the help of the other characters faces some major hurtles of adversity. RJ Crayton's dystopian world of FoSS, and Kelsey's story is a social commentary giving you the opportunity to see some of the extremes of taking away choice in Healthcare.

I recommend reading this book, to help keep in mind that choices are vital in life and respecting the wishes of the patient should be of utmost importance in medical care. I also think it's a fun read that takes you through some thrilling events in the life of Kelsey Reed.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
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