Book Review: STARTERS
In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party–her body will commit murder, if her mind can’t stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first–the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as Enders, who get to be young again. Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It’s a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank’s horrible plan…
It’s amazing how many fantastic books by debut authors that I have had the honor of reading so far in 2012, and STARTERS is no exception to this honor. I ripped through the pages of this book like one would rip through a super delicious candy bar. It was that good and OH-SO thrilling to read! Starters presents itself as a dystopian novel, but between the covers it is really quite a lot more than that. Starters is a suspenseful thriller, as well as a carefully plotted mystery, that will have your eyes and mouth gaping wide until the very last page.
To say more than the description would spoil the book, so I won’t go there. But if you could only imagine all the trouble one could get into when their “rented out” body is being used as part of a million dollar corporation scam and a murderous sub-plot, well the possibilities are endless! I also love the overall idea of what would happen if the elderly (and in the case of this book, the veeeery elderly) had the opportunity to be young once more. To what ends would they take to obtain eternal youth?
As for the story itself: Just when you *think* something is going to happen in this book, you often find out you are 100% wrong. This is what make Starters a very exciting read the whole way through. There are more twists and turns in this book than a double helix. The book description is a good start, but it’s what happens AFTER Callie discovers the Body Bank’s plans that matters the most. And one thing should be known about the novel: Lissa does not sacrifice plot for action. The plot thickens, and much of it is driven by character motives. You will likely become emotionally connected with many of the characters and their individual conflicts in this book.
Also, there is a love story in Starters that, while it does take a back seat to the action, is no less gripping than all the other events of the book. And the twist (or two or three) at the end! Oh my, Lissa, you are a genius!
Hurray for Callie! I think that, if I were to make a list of my favorite, most relatable characters in 2012, even after finishing all the novels I plan to read this year she will likely sit right at the top of that list. She is tough, she is strong, she is supportive of her family and a pillar of hope in a society that has shot much of the youth down. Callie is brave, resourceful and yet at the same time, no different than any other sixteen year old girl. She has insecurities, she makes some very rash and very wrong decisions. But she wastes no time to bounce back from her mistake and correct them… In addition, there are other characters in the book that are well played in their roles. The “villain” of the story is both terrifying and mysterious. The perfect combination. And when we have the chance to meet him face to face, I literally cringed in my seat. I also enjoyed the characters, Madison and Blake… To say more about any other characters would spoil the story, but it is important to keep this in mind: In a society where people can take over bodies at the drop of a hat, you really never know if the stranger sitting next to you is really who they appear to be… (For example, I was going to complain about one character’s “wooden” dialogue while reading, but an event later in the story turned me for a loop and that wooden dialogue suddenly made perfect sense!)
My only gripe about the characters is that perhaps some of the relationships between them in the novel were molded a bit too quickly… Almost quicker than is realistic. This was probably due to the fact that the story had to keep moving forward, but it forced me to suspend belief perhaps once or twice and wonder if the people in this world are really *that* naive that they could trust others and befriend them so quickly…
The story begins in a place that is bleak and depressing. We get to see Callie’s world in an apartment building where the unclaimed youth (or Starters) hide from the marshals who seek them out. The unclaimed are starving, desperate, unable to find work and always on the move. Her world is a stark contrast to the world that we see once Callie’s body is rented by a rich Ender named Helen, an elderly woman who lives in opulence and enjoys life’s greatest luxuries. The contrast between the two worlds is great and upsetting. The book also sheds some light into the world of “before”, which Callie remembers through the eyes of childhood memories, a time before what they call the “Spore Wars” broke out. I am unsure if I really understand exactly what time period this story is supposed to take place, but I would guess it is not too far into the future – perhaps 100 – 200 years, at most. Which is nice, since it feels like a world much like our own, only more technologically advanced. Plus, it’s the people that define the setting of this future.
Prepare for a wild ride! “Slow paced” is definitely not the word to use to describe Starters. More like “high octane” adrenaline rush. In fact, in the moments when you start to relax and think you can take a breather from all the action, you’re lifted right back up and jolted into a new twist or shocking revelation. I admire Lissa’s ability to move the story forward, while at the same time working in some outstanding character development and world building. As I said before, Lissa does not sacrifice plot for action. There is plenty of time given to us to learn about the people involved in the story. Though, as I said about the characters above, it may be a little “too” quickly to allow for some of the character interactions to appear completely realistic.
The one thing I love about Lissa Price’s writing style is how it’s straight forward, to the point, “matter of fact” and not glossed over with ~pretty~ words or prose. It’s nice to read a book like that every once and a while. Lissa is a master at trilling and suspenseful storytelling. Plus, she writes a good mystery. You really don’t know what’s going to happen next. And if she does lace it with foreshadowing of future events, you can hardly tell and don’t even realize that it was foreshadowing until after the event had occurred. I am so grateful for her ability to keep us in the dark. It made reading Starters all the more better for it.
So, if you want a dystopian tale that is obviously set in a dystopian future but reads more like a mystery thriller, Starters is the book for you. Now that I have finished Starters, I have yet another series that I really wish I had book two in front of me right now so I can find out what happens next… Book two is titled ENDERS and will be released in Winter 2012. For now, I can’t wait to have the physical copy of STARTERS in my hands on March 13. I will definitely be reading it again.
Checkout the awesome book trailer!
Posted on February 1, 2012, in Book Review, Five Star and tagged Awesome, Boby Bank, Book Review, Delacorte Press, Dystopian, Enders, Female Lead, Five Stars, Future, Lissa Price, Murder, Mystery, Random House, Romance, Starters, Suspense, Teen, Triller, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.