Book #1 of the Starters Series
by Lissa Price
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 2012)
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Pages: 350 (ebook) (ARC)
Purchase: Amazon / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)
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. . .
Let me just say this before I start. I cannot be as thorough in this review as I usually am because if I were I would be revealing too many spoilers. In my reviews, I usually only expand on what is in the original summary of the book so that I’m not giving too much away. But this book is chock-full of twists and surprises that if I mentioned them, I would be ruining the mystery.
I have to admit, it took me three times of putting this book down then picking it up days later until I finally got into Starters. But after I was in, I was sucked in. I was absorbed by the bleak world Price created and the interesting characters that made me care about them.
The starters, people in their teens, and the Enders, seniors, are the only two age groups that received the vaccine to the deadly epidemic that wiped out a large portion of the world. The Enders now can live over 200 years old and pretty much rule the world. The younger generation that have living older relatives live a lavish life of wealth while the orphans live in fear of being imprisoned or even killed.
Callie was a great character. She’s willing to do anything to keep her sickly younger brother alive. So she sells the use of her body, becoming a donor for seniors that want to be young again. She gets money so she can keep her brother and close friend alive while the Ender gets to live life in a younger body, even if it’s only for a few weeks. I was truly terrified for Callie the whole book. When the neurochip that connects the Ender with the younger body malfunctions, Callie wakes up to find that her renter is involved in some dangerous activities that might get Callie killed. It was fascinating to watch Callie slowly solve the mystery of her renter. Nothing was as simple as it seemed. We knew that Prime Destinations was the center of all the things going wrong in Callie’s life, but the reasons why remained elusive for a good portion of the book. And as peoples’ true motives were revealed, Callie was only further drawn into a conspiracy she had little hope of surviving.
Love on the Side…
But through it all, Callie finds a little love in-between her new hectic life. Blake was an interesting character because I never knew how much Callie could trust him. But at the same time I was screaming at Callie to tell him everything in the hopes of finding some kind of help. It was hard watching Callie do everything by herself, especially when the stakes were raised to horrible levels.
You Never Know…
After the first 100 pages, Starters was all action, mystery, and suspense. And as things just got worse and worse, I couldn’t fathom how Callie was going to walk away alive. This book was all about huge secrets and heart-wrenching sadness. But that’s to be expected in dystopian novels. I read this book thinking I knew all the answers but Price amazed me with her ability to shock me with twists and turns I never saw coming. I turned the last past with my mouth open in astonishment. Nothing is really as it seems so it’s almost disorienting reading this book. Which to me only means it did it’s job well.
I was a little surprised by the reviews I have seen about Starters. Many bloggers found this book confusing, but I kept up with the plot pretty easily. The only thing I can say bad about it is that the world building lacked somewhat. I wished some more things were explained from the beginning or even at the end so that I could get a better idea of the dystopian world Price created.
The little romance you will find in this book was pretty much short and sweet. It was also a little confusing because Callie seemed to have feelings for Michael, her friend, but then started crushing on Blake. I think book 2 will be more for romance and the expansion on this whole love triangle. Well, at least I hope. Don’t expect anything sexual, just a little kissing.
I had goose bumps through half this novel. The world Price created was chilling. What Callie goes through is unimaginable. And the twists were non-stop. I was actually exhausted after reading this book. It really took me through the emotional ringer. And I loved every minute of it. Highly recommend.
The marshals came out of the walkway. I peered at them through a hole in the bush, watching their movement. One headed left. The other came right towards us.
Tyler made a sound, that wheeze that was always followed by a cough. I felt the hair on my arms rise. Michael slipped his hand over Tyler’s mouth.
The marshal was approaching. Had he spotted us? He crouched and edged closer, his gun drawn. My heartbeat echoed in my ears. I gripped Michael’s shirt and pressed my cheek to his shoulder.
The marshal’s hand groped through the leaves in front of my face. He was so close I could smell the oily scent of his glove. I held my breath.
Great review. I’ve seen so many reviews that say the same thing about the book being confusing that it kind of turned me off to the book. I think I’ll check it out now and see what it’s all about!
Jennifer L. Bielman
I hope you like it. Yeah, this book’s reviews have been really up and down but I really enjoyed it.
Wow… Jennifer, this sounds AMAZING. To be honest, the cover does nothing for me so… err… I’d kind of ignored the book completely?
But… uhh… OK, I’m going to use the word amazing again. I love the idea of the world Price has created! It sounds… err… amazing.
SO glad you got past the slow start to enjoy it! I am officially intrigued 😀
Jennifer L. Bielman
Yeah, not a fan of the cover. I think you would like this book. It is very gripping.
And I kind of like confusing 😀
To be honest, I’ve never been ‘confused’ by a book. Intrigued? Haven’t figured out the mystery? Yes. All of those things, but not really confused. SO intrigued. I kind of want to eat your reviews 😀
Jennifer L. Bielman
Oooh, you have to try my reviews with a little salt and butter. Makes them so much more tasty. 😉
Oooh, but they’re so tasty to begin with?!
Hmmm, well, I take your advice in ALL things… *melts and sprinkles*
I liked this one, too. The end (with Blake) was a little bit… wtf… for me. But I definitely want to see how things end!
Jennifer L. Bielman
I know, the ending was odd but I liked the surprise. It was something I never seen before. I like being thrown for a curve, it makes it more exciting.
I love this cover, I think it is one of the most different that I have seen. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I was going to pick this up but, it sounds interesting I might just add it to my TBR pile.
Jennifer L. Bielman
The cover is really different. It’s interesting for sure. I think you will enjoy this book. It’s very entertaining.