reviewed by Eric Ellis
I came away with two major observations after reading First Born by Will Dean. The first is for other readers to be very careful when reading about First Born because the potential for spoiling the contents is too easy, and the less known about the novel, the better. The second one is for readers to stick with the novel because at about the halfway point the novel explodes with shockwaves that continue until the end of the novel.
Katie and Molly Raven are biologically identical twins, but at the same time, entirely unlike each other. Katie is outgoing, popular, vivacious, and exploratory, while Molly is an introvert most likely with an OCD-like neurosis regarding her personal safety. Want to know the chances of food poisoning, being killed in a plane crash or hit by a car, or hurt in a fall down the stairs, just ask Molly and she can tell you – and in percentages.
For most of their lives, the two have remained inseparable with an ability to be tuned into each other’s every bodily function, including communicating in code.
With Katie being the adventurous of the two, she has moved to New York to further her studies, while Molly has remained in England where she feels it is safe.
After time apart, with her parents in New York visiting Katie, Molly receives a telephone call from her father that her twin has died under mysterious circumstances and Molly needs to come to New York.
Molly then travels to New York determined to learn exactly what has happened to Katie and to ensure if any guilty party exists, punishment will follow.
First Born then turns into a seemingly “police procedural” without the police and with Molly filling the role of a dogged detective normally occupied by police investigators. The novel is not a rapid, page-turning, edge-of-the-seat thriller – at first – but instead a study of the relationship of a pair of wildly different twins and done so with slowly divulged exacting detail.
Dean then reveals a meticulously plotted tale, which includes an expansively detailed examination of Molly’s personal safety neurosis and how it impacts every single moment of her lifestyle, thought processes and relationships with others in this world.
First Born is highly recommended to those that enjoy plots with detail, complex characters and stories that slowly build until boiling over the top.
First Born was provided by Netgalley and Atria Books for the promise of a fair review and is available for purchase.