Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

by Lissa Price
Published: March 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Available: Amazon


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. . . .


I finding it really hard to make my mind up about this book. The first hurdle is the cover. The background looks neat and I like the eyes, but the girl just looks like a basic sketch I would have done back in high school. I'm thinking that maybe the physical cover is actually better than it appears as an ebook cover. The cover though does work with the story.

The concept is one I like, that in the not too distant future a war wipes out everyone between the ages of 18 and 65. Price does a great job of explaining that the young and old were immunized as they are the most vulnerable to illness. This really worked for me, and I even liked how the older people were in control of things. I loved the body bank idea. It felt a bit like that movie Surrogates, but with the younger generation being forced into letting the 'Enders' relive their youth.

What didn't work for me plot wise was that the 'Enders' were living up to 200 years. This felt like it was added in just to make the 'Starers' downtrodden fate all that much longer. This is where I doubt who was immunized. If people are living to 200, then 125 would be the new 40, right? But I could over look that and just think of these people as being old. What I really didn't get was how in only a few short years these 'Enders' who are the grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. of the 'Starters' let children be abused an neglected to such an extreme. Maybe a small portion would let it go for their own benefit, but not all of them, not to the extreme here.

The main character Callie started off good. I liked her dedication to her brother and her ability to do what she needed to. That said, once she wakes up in mid-way through her rental she starts to sink. It felts so contrived. She meets a cute boy, and immediately feels connected to him, and trusts him explicitly with the location of her brother and a ton of money. Then of course there is the obsession with the expensive clothing and cars. I couldn't believe that this girl who was the sole caretaker of her little brother, who had donated her body for recreational use for him, was suddenly going on dates and worrying about if a boy likes her, while her brother is sick, possibly starving.

The ending had some great potential, especially with the love triangle aspect due to a great twist Price threw in to tempt us into the sequel. But at the last moment it became a mess of superficiality and made me lose respect for one of the main characters. It just felt like the beginning of another forced love triangle.

I would read the sequel, but I would probably go in to it with slightly lower expectations than I did this one.

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