Author: Lissa Price
Genre: YA Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: Starters (Book 1)
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0385742371 (Delacorte Books)
ISBN-13: 978-0385742375 (Delacorte Books)
Reviewed by: Emmy
HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.
He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
Quick & Dirty: This dystopian America exposes the lengths people will go to for their families…and to get their youth back.
Opening Sentence: Enders gave me the creeps.
Starters, Ender, Renegades, Spore Wars–the world building Price does in this book is phenomenal. Starters takes place in a post-war America–biological warfare–that destroyed society as we know it. During the Spore Wars only the elderly and the young were vaccinated, because they were the most vulnerable, and as a result everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 is dead. Of course, Enders can live as long as 200 years in this time–and they do, manipulating their bodies in grotesque and phenomenal ways (for example: rib removal for a tiny waist) to stay beautiful. The Starters are the kids left behind by the Spore Wars. The unclaimed get sent to a government run institution and are never heard from again.
This page turning story is told from Callie’s POV, and she’s a strong, caring heroine. The body bank is her last card, the only way she can think to save her brother Tyler. They squat on the streets, hiding from the government, but at the age of seven Tyler’s sick and getting sicker. He needs a home, real food and a clean place to sleep. The paycheck from the body bank can give Callie that. She knows something’s off with them–it’s illegal to hire Starters, and especially unclaimed minors–but there’s no where else to turn. It’s easy money–literally as easy as falling asleep–and she has no other way to save Tyler. Ender’s pay for the chance to use your body for a few days, to get to be young and beautiful again, and you get a fat paycheck without any questions. Except Callie’s rental doesn’t work that way. Callie wakes up. Despite the rules and regulations body renters are supposed to oblige, Callie’s in a nightclub with a wad of money and a gun. Clearly, not your average rental.
Callie does what any self-respecting girl would do in this situation: panic. I don’t mean she has a hysterical fit or anything, but she’s clearly worried about what her renter is up to. I mean, I would be too, which is what makes Callie such a great narrator. Not only can you follow her thought process without banging your head against the wall saying “Why are you so stupid?” but she does exactly what I would do in this situation. That is: try and figure out what’s going on without getting in more trouble. But of course it’s not that easy (though really, is that easy?) because Callie’s renter has a mission she’s determined to see through to the end. As the darker side of the body bank comes to light Callie also struggles with her feelings for Michael and Blake. Michael is the boy-next-door, who she never really knew until they were living on the streets together. He’s watching over Tyler while she’s gone and has clearly been protecting them since their parents died. They’re a unit, but there’s tension when Callie has to leave. Blake is the rich real-boy–as in he’s not a renter. He’s cute, he’s fun, and he doesn’t ask questions when Callie does something crazy but instead follows her lead. I think there’s a lot more to Blake than meets the eye; I can’t wait for more of his story in the next installment!
As I said before, the writing style is first person. It also–impressively, in my opinion–holds very true to realism in this dystopian world. Price has built an intricate world around a manipulative government and demolished society using terms that are easily definable for her readers. Her plot is strong and based almost wholly on the idea of “what would you do when backed into a corner?” but still manages to surprise you. Part of the surprise comes from the fact that her characters are almost all individualized. They each have their own motives and missions that both work to further the plot and complicate their lives. I’m always a little iffy on flashbacks, but they’re used here more as memories triggered by something going on than as a cop-out for the author to explain what’s going on.
I’m a big fan of dystopians because they’re rife with angst and questions about society. This one is a particular favorite. I need the next book right now! The ending wasn’t one of those annoying cliff hangers, but you’re still left with a lot of tension to carry over into the next story!
“He’s over here!” The other marshal’s voice called out.
The the sound that made our spines tingle, that electronic, arcing crackle, broke through the cold night.
Excruciating screams followed the crackle. They ripped through us, making our teeth hurt and our souls ache. The leaves shook as the marshal ran off.
I pressed my face to the hole in the bushes to see. A boy lay on the ground, facedown. His screams were giving way to moans.
One of the marshals slapped autocuffs on him and turned him over. I recognized him as one of the newer guys in our building. The side of his neck was burnt black from the ZipTaser. That happened if they held it too close or the gun was turned up too high. They did it on purpose, to brand us.
The Starters Series:
FTC Advisory: Random House/Delacorte Books provided me with a copy of Starters. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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