Starters by Lissa Price tells the story of what might happen if an entire generation of adults was wiped out in the United States due to biological warfare. Callie’s parents were killed years ago and now she must make impossible decisions to keep her brother alive and safe. Starters has the excellent combination of a fairly plausible dystopian premise with delicious plot twists and ethical dilemmas like all good sci-fi requires ;-). I definitely should have gotten to this book sooner, but better late than never right?
Note: I borrowed Starters from my library; go libraries!
Starters by Lissa Price (Starters #1)
Published by Delacorte on March 13th, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Sci-fi, YA
Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER
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. . . .
- Starters has a premise that quite appealed to me. It’s explained that the young and old were the first to be vaccinated against the plague being used in biological warfare (Spore Bombs!) and therefore the healthy adults were the ones that were wiped out when the bombs dropped. This has left Starters (the young people) and Enders (elderly people). However, technology has pushed life expectancy to over 200, therefore there are a lot of healthy Enders to work still. They don’t want Starters taking their jobs however, leading to a strong and horrible class divide.
- Callie is the MC of Starters and I quite enjoyed her character. She is one of the unclaimed minors, having no living parents, grandparents or great-grandparents to provide for her. She isn’t allowed to work because she is under nineteen, and therefore she and her brother live where ever they can find an abandoned building and steal water. Callie demonstrates how much she cares about her brother and I appreciated that she had up until the events of Starters had a crush but not really acted on it because the situation obviously wasn’t right for kissy times. A practical protagonist!
- The choices that Callie and the rest of the Starters (and Enders eventually) are presented with are just heart breaking. Gah, one scene in particular makes me sniffle just thinking about it because Callie has to live with how things went down even though she didn’t want it to happen that way. I was also quite moved by the portrayal of poverty in Starters, since Callie and the other Starters struggle with it so much for really unfair reasons.
- Omg the plot twists! I freaking love plot twists and I didn’t think that Starters would manage to surprise me, but then BAM. The ending of Starters is filled with awesome reveals and just kept popping the rating higher, haha.
- I really think that fans of Pawn would love Starters. There is a similar body-swapping and pretending element, plus the dystopian setting and fighting to overthrow a corrupt system :).
- The first half of Starters kept reminding me of other sci-fi and dystopian YA that I’ve read recently. Obviously Starters came out a bit ago, so it actually came before some of the books it reminded me of, but it was still annoying to get mentally distracted by that.
- There is the potential for a love triangle in the second book, but so far I’m willing to let it slide. Callie is pulled between two guys who she isn’t actually officially involved with and it’s a complicated situation with the whole body-switching thing ;-).
- Callie’s eyes are apparently the same color, but at one point Michael draws a picture of her with two different colored eyes, which is also how the original cover was. Is this important?? Is it just a metaphor?? I kept expecting something to emerge from these mentions but then nothing did so I’m confused.
- There is a lot of reference to renegades, friendlies, and unfriendlies. These are obviously the terms that Callie has developed to refer to the other youths on the streets, but it was never really explained what the difference between unfriendlies and renegades is and if there is some organization around these groups or not. I’m fine with new terms, but they need to be expanded upon at some point!
Starters has a strong plot with lots of fun twists along with an actually fairly believable premise. While there were elements that were quite familiar given the amount of dystopian and sci-fi I’ve read, I still really enjoyed Callie and her adventure to figure out what the heck is going on in this crazy world. I’m really curious to see where the second book (Enders) goes, since there was a bit of a cliffhanger (i.e. a major reveal RIGHT at the end) and I’m so pumped for her to explore it!