Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Title:  Starters  
Author:  Lissa Price
Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Children’s Books
Imprint:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format:  NetGalley Digital Galley
Release 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 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 have ever imagined…. (Summary courtesy of publisher via NetGalley).

I have to admit, I have had the hardest time writing the review for this book. It’s not because I didn’t like the book or there was anything wrong with it. I just couldn’t get the words to flow the way I wanted them to. I have started and then re-started this review probably ten times. Each time I deleted it and started over. I was having my own version of writer’s block, I guess. It makes me glad that I only read the books, not write them. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to get stuck when writing an actual book. My heart goes out to all of those authors who struggle to make a story flow flawlessly. You guys make it look so easy. Anyway, on to the review.

Starters is a fascinating look at a very scary future. Because everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty has died, teens without family—grandparents or great-grandparents that is—are forced to live in horrifying conditions, fighting for every scrap of food and a place to lay their heads at night.  Desperation forces some of them to become renters—selling the use of their bodies to the Enders for a lot of cash. This is where the reader finds Callie, contemplating renting herself out in order to help her brother and their friend Michael survive. But when Callie wakes up still in the body of the Ender who rented her, everything she thought she believed begins to unravel around her.

I really enjoyed Starters. I am a huge fan of the young adult dystopian genre, so I always enjoy a book that can bring some originality to a part of the genre that is rapidly being overrun with similar story lines. It did remind me a little bit of the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates or the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Not the actual story, but the idea of using someone else’s body or memories as your own. But all in all, it is a well-written story with a lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing.

I really only had two issues with this book. First, there are a lot of characters to keep straight. Perhaps the most difficult part was keeping straight whether the character is an Ender who is renting or a Starter (a real teen). Price definitely knows how to keep the reader on their toes and engaged in the story. You need to pay attention to what is happening in this book, don’t let your mind drift or you might miss something important, especially when it comes to the characters. Second, Starters had one of those “never-ending” endings.  It just seemed to go on and on. I felt like Price was trying to wrap up several loose ends, or set the reader up for the next book, and she just didn’t quite know how to finish it up. I found myself rolling my eyes and saying “Really” when I turned the page and the book was still not done. That is a pet peeve of mine though, the inability to just end a book (or a movie--*cough* third Lord of the Rings *cough*) without adding a bunch of stuff and fluff to the end.

I did like Starters. It is expected to be a two-book project and I am looking forward to the next book. Price is a very imaginative writer with a bright future. I am sure she will continue to bring us great reads. I will be recommending this to my girls, I think they’ll like it.

My grade for Starters by Lissa Price:


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