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.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Four Stars: A captivating story that involves body snatching.
Callie lives on the streets with her younger brother, Tyler. The Pacific Rim war and the deadly spore invasion, killed off the middle aged population, leaving a world populated with Starters and Enders. The Starters are the teenagers and young children, while the Enders are the elderly. In this apocalyptic world, the Enders are in control. They hold the wealth, the jobs and the power. While many of the Starters are forced to fight for their very survival. Many of the Enders are obsessed with beauty, glamour and the promise of youth. A new, covert business has popped up, Prime Development, a Body Bank. New technology allows an Ender to rent a Starter's body. The Ender takes control of the body while their real body lies in stasis. They can occupy the body of beautiful teenagers and relive their youth. Starters agree to rent out their bodies to earn the money they so desperately need to survive. A select few of the Starters agree to the body leasing in order to receive a make over, as all the rental bodies must be in pristine condition and highly attractive. Callie needs the money to secure a home and medical care for brother. Her first two rentals go off without a hitch, but her third rental soon turns dangerous. Callie finds she has unwillingly become entangled in a deadly plot to take down the body bank. Will she survive her rental?
What I Liked:
- This is one of those books that grabbed me and dragged me in from the first page. The entire concept of the book is creepy and fascinating at the same time. I liked the way the author created a post apocalyptic world dominated by senior citizens fixated on looks and youth. Ms. Price gives you a whole mass of ideas to ponder over during the read.
- Callie is an admirable character, she draws your sympathy as you watch her struggle with her heavy burdens. Yet, she is resourceful, quick witted and courageous. I found myself rooting for her the entire book. I especially liked the way she took time to think things through; for example her first meeting at the body bank, she reconsiders signing the contract and decides to think on it. She is a smart cookie.
- The entire plot is thoroughly engaging. I read through this one very quickly, it is a page turner. The idea of the elderly running around undetected in beautiful teenage bodies was fascinating. Then the author throws in a few wrenches to add to the suspense. There were a couple of big gotcha moments in the book that I didn't see coming. I loved the shocking surprises.
- Ms. Price crafts some great villains. She gets you in the first scene with Callie meeting Tinnenbaum with his unctuous personality, much like a used car salesman, as he tries to beguile and soothe her into signing the contract. He just oozes bad guy. He gave me the creeps. Later, you meet the Old Man and he is scary. I loved that the author was able to generate such emotion in me with her story and characters.
And The Not So Much:
- I loved the ingenious idea of the body rentals but there were a few flaws and unanswered questions. Such as: How are the bodies maintained in the stasis? Are they fed? How long can they survive that way? How do they ensure a stable connection? These were just a few things that I questioned.
- I feel like a broken record saying this, but an excellent dystopian novel requires great world building. Ms. Price does an adequate job in creating her apocalyptic world populated with Starters and Enders, but it lacked detail. There is very little coverage on the spore war that decimated the population. Who were the participants in the war? How long did it take to wipe out the population? Is it spread world wide or just on the Pacific Coast? How did the Enders gain all the power? Were the Enders in a position of power before the war? Finally, I wanted to know if the Enders had increased life spans did that change the progression of the aging? The author unfortunately left a few holes in the plot.
- The love interests in the book, Michael and Blake were a bit undeveloped. Michael especially needed to be fleshed out more. I knew very little about him, and I honestly was not sure if there was a true romantic bond between he and Callie, since it wasn't fully explored. Blake was better developed but I still didn't really know him, especially at the end. I was left teetering wondering if a love triangle is on the horizon. There are hints, but I am hoping this series does not go down that well worn, beat up path.
- The ending. The book draws to a satisfactory conclusion, meaning there isn't a terrible cliffhanger but the author leaves a whole mess of unanswered questions.
- I wish the plot following the wealthy teenagers becoming donors to the body bank was explained better. This story line is quickly mentioned but not thoroughly exposed.
Starters is a gripping and thrilling read that will keep you up late driving to the finish. Ms. Price thrusts you into a world controlled by the geriatric population, who are obsessed with glitter and glamour instead of aging and dying. How far would you go to protect the ones you loved? Would you be willing to loan out your body? The ideas in this book provide many intriguing and challenging ideas to toss around in your head. Despite a few flaws, this book was a fast, fun read. I will be eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel, Enders, in December 2012. Lissa Price with her debut novel proves she is a talented author; definitely one to watch.
“I didn’t feel made over, I felt run over.”
“I had forgotten the luxury of a clean bed, how sheets felt slippery against your skin. It was like floating in heaven.”
“It had been a long time since I’d been happy. A long time since life was just lip gloss and music and silly girlfriends.”
“I never once saw hie teeth. Guess he was all out of smiles.”
“It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. Dad. Gone. Images flashed by me. Steadying hands, guidance, support. Hugs.”
“I let my eyes zone out on the city lights until they became fuzzy pom-poms of color.”
“I went to the closet to look for secrets. That was where people usually hid them.”
“That close, his eyes made the world disappear. He smelled clean. Like summers before the war. Like sanctuary.”
“There was a moment, a frozen moment, but then I pulled myself back from falling into the abyss called pity. It was a place I refused to go.”
“He kissed me goodbye. It wasn’t like before. It carried the burden of my lies, which separated our lips like a layer of wax.”
“I knew that feeling, the sense of panic that stretched time,turning seconds into years, and the deep pain that came from being hurt by not one person but many, a gang of bullies that expanded into a neighborhood and then into a community, until you questioned the whole world.”
A copy of this book was kindly provided by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, in exchange for an honest review.