Title: Starters (#1)
Author: Lissa Price
On the Shelves: Young Adult> Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic> Sci-Fi
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. . .(Goodreads 2014)
I decided to re-read this book since the sequel was coming out in January. The first time I read it in 2012, I gave it 4 stars. On the re-read, it gained only three. Callie is a likeable-enough protagonist and the book itself is written at a nice pace, although the world building and character depth could use more development. I personally would love to have had chapters in the point of view of Helen- to know more of her back story with her daughter.
The reason this review is quite short, is the reason it only got three starts upon re-reading.
Starters is a good dystopian, but there isn’t very much that is “memorable” about it. The story seems like a bit of a mash up between Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series and Condie’s “Matched” series. While the premise of renting the bodies out to the older folk is somewhat original, a lot of the little bits of how it’s done and how the society itself is ran seems to be borrowed from other dystopians. I found the love triangle completely unnecessary, and more annoying than an attempt at adding “more” to the story (whatever “more” is…). Everyone refers to this series as a “dystopian”, so for ease I am too- but I’d be tempted to refer to it more as a post-apocalyptic series rather than dystopian, since in Starters, the fall of society isn’t due to a flawed government or state, but rather as a result of a genocide/nuclear “spore” war, and then the society just had to adapt to what is left. It’s “dystopian” in that it’s a flawed society, but it is also a post-destruction society.
I wish we had more back story surrounding Michael, I felt awful for him throughout the book because he’s taking care of Callie’s brother for her and she basically just ignores him for the entire book. I’m quite surprised there, as far as I know, is no novella around him- since novellas are cool now.
Something was missing from this book, while it is enjoyable and it is worth trying if you are a fan of sci-fi and/or dystopian, there were ways it could definitley have been improved, and it isn’t a very memorable book in terms of writing. Review on the new sequel “Enders” is coming up…