Thursday, September 6, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

From the publisher:
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty.  She and her little brother, Tyler, are 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 son.  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...

My Thoughts:
I have to be honest and say that at first I didn't think I was going to like Starters, but actually I was pulled into the story quickly and stayed there until I was finished with it.

The story is set in Los Angeles, in a not terribly distant future.  It is a bi-polar world, populated by the young and generally very poor called Starters, and the old, very rich called Enders.  It is a world without a median.  Oddly enough, though, there are some rich Starters who have been claimed by their wealthy Ender relatives, but there seems to be no poor Enders.  Squatters and renegades are unclaimed minors, kids who have no elderly relatives to claim them and, if caught by Ender marshals, are put into institutions, which by that very name implies horrible living and working conditions.

Callie has been responsible for her weak sickly brother Tyler since their mother died in the Spore War and her father was taken away to die from the same thing.  But life on the streets and on the run from Marshals and renegades is taking it toll on Tyler.  Callie, an attractive teen under all the dirt and grime of living as a squatter, decides that letting Prime Destinations rent her body to an Ender for a while will earn her enough money to buy a house and food to help her brother regain his health.

So Callie has the neurochip needed for the rental implanted in her head.  Her body is cleaned up and manicured to look perfect and then she is put into an induced coma.  She shouldn't wake up for a month while her body is being used, but one night she suddenly finds herself at a nightclub where rich teens and Enders in teen rentals go to party.

Apparently, something is wrong with her chip.

Turns out, Helena, the Ender renting Callie, wants more from her body than just partying like a 16 year old.  Helena's 16 year old granddaughter Emma has gone missing and Helena believes that Prime Destinations is the reason why.  Now, she wants to find out what happened to Emma and expose a sinister plan that Prime Destinations has for it youthful rentees.

Will Callie help Helena or go to Prime Destinations and tell them about the defective chip?

In a world of many dystopian, apocalyptic novels, I think that Price has actually come up with a rather unique premise in Starters.  It is told completely from Callie's point of view, which is pretty clever considering that part of the time she is still in the induced coma - and yet it works.

Price has created a set of other interesting characters as well.  We don't learn much about Michael, other than he is Callie's trusted friend and an artist.  Callie meets Blake Harrison, grandson of Senator Harrison, at a nightclub, and although she falls for him, he seems too good to be true.  But is he?  Actually, in this novel, you may end up asking yourself over and over if people are who they appear to be.  After all, this is a novel about appearances and I liked that, it kept me guessing.

I did find some Hunger Games elements in the novel.  Michael reminded me of Katniss's friend Gale - there but we never get to really know him.  The body makeover is pretty much kin to the makeovers the Tributes receive.  And a few more similarities, but these don't detract from the novel's originality one bit.

I personally found the idea of elderly people, and in this novel they can live to be as old as 200 years, gallivanting about in the bodies of teens to be really creepy.   But it makes for a great novel.   And yet, how many over 60s would, in today's world, pay big bucks to be young again?  More than you might think, I would guess.

I also found that lack of humanity towards the unclaimed minors by the Enders somewhat hard to take - all that money and not giving a damn about those kids - that's scary.  Imagine if all the programs to help disadvantaged people were suddenly shut down now - who would help them?

Starters is an exciting, fast-paced, well-written debut novel for Lissa Price and it is the first in a projected series about Callie.  I, for one, am really looking forward to the next book.

This book is recommended for readers 12+
I received this book from the publisher.

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this one! This is the firt time I have seen the trailer. I am glad to hear you liked this one and I can't wait to get my hands on it. :)


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