Author: Lissa Price
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)
Callie and her little brother Tyler lost their parents in the Spore Wars, when everyone between twenty and sixty died. Now they're squatters, without a family, scrounging for food with their friend Michael. As far as Callie sees it, their only hope is Prime Destinations, a place that allows teens to rent their bodies out to Enders, the elderly that want to be young again. Desperate for money for Tyler, Callie agrees, but something goes wrong and she wakes up in the life of her Ender renter. She's introduced to a fairy-tale life, until Callie learns her renter had more in mind than just partying, and that Prime Destinations is more evil than she imagined.
A mix of science fiction, dystopian, and a thriller mystery, Starters is a glimpse into a complicated world. You're either young or you're old, there is no in between, and the two sides can lead very different lives. Callie wants to make everything easier for her brother, to get them out of ruined buildings and back into an actual home, but for orphans/unclaimed minors such as them, it's not that easy.
A very unique premise, I will say that, but there's something that kept me from enjoying more than I did, something elusive. The entire book was Callie and her journey, her discovery, her battle for survival, her realizations that the world was even more dangerous than she thought, but it's possible I'd expected more. Perhaps I wanted more of a mix between her life with Tyler and Michael and her life as a donor. Perhaps I wanted more science fiction, a more distant future, something besides the chip implanted in her brain.
Perhaps it was the moral and ethical questions that arose with the practice of donors and renters. What right do the Enders have to want to be young again? They lived their lives, what about the younger generation? The Enders aren't just borrowing a younger body for a period of time, they're stealing the chance to live from someone else. As a practice, as a last resort for Callie, it left me rather chilled.
Callie was an interesting character, rather willful and smart, but through the book I was torn. Does she go see her brother when she wakes up unexpectedly? Does she help her renter with her plan? Does she wait out the month, staying quiet, and live a normal life with Tyler?
Starters is an interesting story, a journey of discovery, of the lengths that someone will go through to keep their family safe, and what dangerous situations someone might be unknowingly forced into, but it wasn't necessarily my cup of tea. Something I haven't yet put my finger on kept me from enjoying it as much as others.
(I received an e-galley of this book from Random House through NetGalley.)