May 6, 2012
Starters - Lissa Price
Author: Lissa Price
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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. . . .
I'm going to start off by saying that I hadn't read a description of Starters before I read it. There wasn't even anything on the back of the book (it was an ARC). That's the first time in a long time, maybe ever, that I've gone into a book totally blind.
You know that adage, youth is wasted on the young? Not in this book. Callie is a girl who was orphaned by war and taking care of her little brother, Tyler, on the streets. In this world there are only Starters (under 20) and Enders (older than 60). Everyone between was wiped out by the Spore War. The people left were the ones who were lucky enough to be vaccinated beforehand. Enders will do just about anything to prolong their lives. In fact, most of the Enders we meet are obsessed with youthfulness.
This is where Prime Destinations comes in. They are a company with the technology to make Enders dreams come true. They "hire" Starters with no family connections (this doesn't sound shady at all) and put a chip in their brains, allowing Enders to rent their bodies and experience youth again. This is where Callie goes to make the money to get herself, her brother, and her friend Michael off the streets. Obviously, something goes horribly wrong. This something is Callie's chip malfunctioning, throwing her into the life of her renter - for better and worse.
Immediately, when I started reading this it reminded me of the short-lived Joss Whedon show Dollhouse, only there people rented the dolls to interact with, not to take over. I love Joss Whedon stuff, so I knew I would dig this book. I really enjoyed meeting all the people Callie met while faking being a renter, and I really liked Blake, the senator's grandson. I wish we could have spent more time with him. Or Michael for that matter. For me, the relationship aspect was the weaker part of the book. I'm sure that being thrown into a caretaker/runaway situation brings you closer together, but I wanted to feel that more.* I can't wait to see what's in store in the sequel, Enders, out in December.
*I just found out there's a short story available in ebook format that shows how it all starts for Callie and Michael. I will definitely be checking that out! Portrait of a Starter - $1.99: nook kindle