Starters, by Lissa Price, is a dystopian story about 16-year old Callie Woodland and her fight to make a better life for herself and that of 7 year old brother Tyler.
The Spore Wars destroyed the population between the ages of twenty and sixty because they weren’t vaccinated by a clueless government. This left the population divided into two camps: Starters (up to age 19), and Enders (who can be up to 200 years old).
Callie and Tyler, who experiences a rare lung disease, are Starters who have been living off the streets since losing their parents to the spores. Callie decides that she has had enough of living on the streets of Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) where renegade kids steal everything from the clothes you wear, to the food you scavenge, to the place where you lay your heads to sleep at night.
Callie's only hope of finding help for Tyler and getting off the streets permanently seems to be a place called Prime Destinations. Prime Destination hires teens who supposedly have no families (unclaimed) to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again.
Callie undergoes several surgeries that enhance her looks, as well has having an electronic tracking device planted into her brain. This is also a mechanism that is supposed to keep the Enders from killing anyone and laying blame on the Starters.
After two successful “trips” by Enders, Callie later wakes up and she finds herself in the home of Helena Winterhill, the Ender who paid good money to rent her body. Helena, however, wants to use Callie for nefarious activities after losing her only granddaughter to mysterious circumstances.
While the first part of the story dragged, and was more or less an information dump to set up the next book in the series--the ending left me screaming in agony because of a surprise revelation that will leave readers stunned. Dare I say that I truly hate cliffhangers?
Callie is definitely not a wallflower who hides behind anybody including her friend Michael. She goes out, takes charge, and fights back against not only Helena’s agenda, but Prime Destinations as well. I like how protective she is of Tyler, and is willing to give her body away in order for a future off the streets.
The problem I have with a singular POV, at times, is that the other characters in the story aren’t given a chance to shine. In this case, Michael and Tyler, as well as a few other important players, are tossed aside like so much trash after they are introduced. Sure, they have the joy of meeting and interacting with Callie and some even play a large role in how the story ends. But, we know almost nothing about them.
So, I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. Not everyone will enjoy this book. I had a hard time with the plot at times, and the ending of course could have stopped a few pages before.
As I was writing this review, I was reminded of Bruce Willis in the movie called Surrogates which was just on TV. It’s the same basic principle except the Surrogates are teenagers, and not artificial people.
Enders releases sometime during the winter of 2012.
*Recvd via Netgalley for review 01/26/2012*