Author: Lissa Price
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Price (when released)
SummaryAfter all adults between the age of 20 and 60 died during the Spore Wars, the United States is basically controlled by the Enders, those adults over the age of 60 who were vaccinated against the spores. The Starters, kids and teens under the age of 20 also vaccinated against the spores, must rely on protection from older relatives or find a way to survive on the streets. Ever since her mother and father died, Callie has been living in abandoned buildings with her younger brother and trying to avoid getting rounded up by the marshals, forced into slave labor or pummeled by hostile starters. However, Tyler is sick and getting worse. Callie must find some way to get money for medicine and food so he can recover.
Then another homeless starter tells her about Prime Destinations. Starters can sign over their body to be rented by a rich Ender. Meanwhile, the starter exists in a peaceful state of oblivion. At the end of the three-rental contract, the Ender walks away with their exciting youthful experience, and the Starter receives a ton of cash. Although Callie has reservations she signs up. It seems easy enough and they really need the money. But when Callie wakes up during a rental in the life of a rich ender, she knows things are getting weird. She can hear the renter’s voice in her head whispering one warning, “Don’t go back to Prime Destinations.”
Now, on the run but with her renter’s resources and a helpful new friend named Blake, Callie must figure out the evil aspirations of the Old Man who owns Prime Destinations before her life and that of other Starters is snuffed out for good.
I have to say, Starters was actually pretty amazing, much better than I thought it would be from the description. The main character, Callie, is someone you want to see win. She is incredibly smart. Her father prepared her for a potential life on the streets, so she is sufficiently tough and understands how her world works and ways to circumvent the system to survive. She has one goal, to keep her brother safe, and she never wavers from that commitment throughout the entire book. Even when she wakes up in the life of the wealthy ender, she has a hard time letting herself have any fun. She is loyal and very goal-oriented. You almost feel sorry that she can’t just be a normal teenage girl.
The story itself, while not always action-packed, is incredibly tense throughout. Even when Callie was not running from Prime Destinations or holding people hostage, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know how it would all turn out. The Old Man is a sufficiently creepy villain. I was literally cringing anytime Callie’s plans included confronting him. There is a huge reveal near the end that I, embarrassingly, did not see coming. While many plot threads in this story wrapped up in a satisfying way, a surprising cliffhanger will keep readers coming back for more. The last book in this two-book series, Enders, is reportedly due to be released on December 4, 2012.
The Bottom Line: Starters was an exciting dystopia that I can honestly say reminds me, in some ways, of The Hunger Games. You have a strong heroine, good side characters, fun action scenes and an evil man as the main villain. This book kept me absolutely engrossed in the story and ravenously reading until the wee hours of the morning. Give it to fans of The Hunger Games, Incarceron and the dystopia genre in general.
The Publisher provided me with an advanced copy, through netgalley, for this review. Starters will be released on March 13, 2012