Author: Lissa Price
Series: Starters #1
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
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 admit, I had some doubts going into this book. For some unknown reason I didn’t expect Starters to be all that good. As much as I love to be right, I’m more than happy to be wrong in cases like this. I would rather my opinion be changed for the better, than for the worse. Also, I initially thought the cover was a little weird, but I like it a lot more now that I’ve read the book. In fact, I didn’t even notice the different color eyes until I finished it.
Starters is definitely a exciting and fast paced read. The book doesn’t give a specific year that it’s set in, which I actually really liked. It’s obviously set in the future, but it’s not locked down with a date. Plus, I love that the book is set in Southern California; I’m always more excited when the setting is a place I’m familiar with. There’s something else that sort of cemented my love for this book: the subtle nod to Cinderella. Cinderella is my favorite fairytale, so to me, that bumped Starters up a notch.
In the future, there is a war in the Pacific that elevates to what is called the Spore Wars, which is meant to cause genocide through sickness. Before this happens, the younger and elderly population receive vaccinations that protect them, unfortunately leaving everyone between the ages of 20 – 60 to die. The thing is, people live well into their hundreds, and because of this, the country implements the Senior Employment Protection Act to provide job security to the aging population. Basically, anyone under the age of nineteen has no rights and are not allowed to work. The older generations are called Enders, and a lot of them are prejudice against the younger generation, Starters.
It’s kind of disturbing how most of the Enders feel about the Starters, and how cold they could be to them just because they’re young. If a Starter isn’t lucky enough to have an Ender relative to take them in, then they’re on their own with no way to work because of the SEPA. Many kids live in squalor, are malnourished, and are in constant fear of not only other people their age, but also the Enders who will put them in institutions. Living in this type of environment can lead people to do desperate things, even rent their body out to Enders.
Callie is sixteen, and will do anything to keep her seven-year-old brother, Tyler, safe. With their parents gone, and no Ender relatives, it’s up to her take care of him with the help of their friend Michael. When Callie decides to go to Prime Destinations and allow Enders to rent out her body to make money, something very wrong happens. Callie is forced into a wild and scary predicament, not knowing who to trust or where to turn.
The story is told through Callie’s point-of-view, even when an Ender has control of her mind and body. I really do like her a lot, but I don’t love her. I honestly can’t give a specific reason why that is; it’s just an overall feeling I have of her. As for Michael and Blake, Callie’s love interests, I’m not feeling them all that much. Yes, this is a love-triangle alert, but it’s not the main focal point; there’s a lot more behind it all.
There are a few supporting characters that really stick out in my mind though: Sara, a twelve-year-old girl from the institution; Rhiannon/Madison, an eccentric Ender/Renter; and Terry, a male Ender who likes black nail polish and eyeliner. They all add something different to the book, especially Sara.
Overall, I really like Starters a lot, and will for sure read Enders, the next book in the series. There are also a few short stories that will be released throughout the year. One is already available – Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story. It’s a very quick read that gives Michael’s POV from before Callie went to Prime Destinations. I recommend reading both of these books.