startersStarters (Starters and Enders #1) by Lissa Price
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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…

Review:

I love this cover! I am almost immune to covers featuring girls in pretty dresses, for some reason, so I think this one is awesome. It’s so sci-fi! I liked what I read of the summary on NetGalley, but I have to be real. I don’t understand how the virus/spore/whatever knows someone is 20 as opposed to 19. What if you’re just a few months from 20? Does that matter? Is it bone density? HOW DOES THE VIRUS KNOW? That sounds like shoddy science, but I can move past it for a good dystopia. And the beginning is sufficiently creepy, as we meet the Enders. There is a Hunger Games-esque makeover scene, but I dismissed the team pretty quickly. I would also like to take this moment to wish that, in some dystopia in the future, the badass heroine will have once been interested in clothes. I find it really kind of unbelievable when I read about modern high schoolers not being able to walk in heels, let alone ones who lived in the Valley. I wish Callie wasn’t “trying to pull down [her] dress to cover [her] legs” because I want a heroine who is comfortable in her body and her clothes, be they jeans or heels or a dress. Why are all dystopian heroines Bella Swans when it comes to fashion and clothes?

When we finally get to the plot, Callie is a little slow on the uptake. This is a problem with first person narration, in my opinion. We know something is off, but Callie is ignorant and doesn’t even attempt to make connections. I don’t know if it’s because Price wasn’t ready for Callie to be aware of this Renters’ Resistance Movement, or because Callie doesn’t trust any Enders after the Spore Wars taught her how cruel they can be. If I’m asking the question, it’s probably the first one, right? (I also find myself wishing Callie would forget about Michael, as we all know she’ll forget about him as soon as Blake is introduced, yes?) Around this time I also started wondering why, if Enders live to be 200 years old in this world, are there so many orphaned teenagers? Don’t they have grandparents? Great-grandparents? Like, their parents would have died, sure, but if they had 110 year old great-grandparents, why weren’t the kids going to live with them? Were Ender lives extended after the Spore Wars? How? This is never really explained. And I know I shouldn’t get so annoyed when Callie refused to cooperate later in the novel, but this is a scenario that plays out in every dystopia ever written. It’s like, girl knows something is up, girl finds out what’s up, girl throws a fit and goes into a state of denial. I’m bored with that scenario! Let’s try a new one next time, okay?

I’ll admit though, I like Blake. He never tried to control Callie, never tried to tell her what to do or what to wear, never removed the alternator from her car so she couldn’t visit Jacob, et cetera. He just seemed to genuinely likeher. When Callie finally starts listening to Helena, her Ender, it’s sort of too late, as Prime Destinations has already been moved into the mainstream. We learn PD will stop being so secretive because, with help from a senator, they will be legally hiring teens to rent out their bodies. Before the war, no one under the age of 20 could work due to the number of unemployed Enders, but this senator changes all that. This part involves Callie running around a lot between places Helena wants her to see, so there are a few infodumps here and there. I feel like we, as readers, already knew most of the stuff Callie is learning (Helena tells Callie everything right at the beginning, but Callie is obtuse, as mentioned above). I also feel like the Enders are remarkably cruel and self-involved. All they seem to care about is “looking young again,” which is so weird in a post-apocalyptic environment.

The plot finally speeds up around the three-quarter mark, and it was interesting. It held my attention for the last of it, though I feel like I knew what would happen. There wasn’t much action, just a lot of talking and altering of digital videos. Callie manages to find help wherever she goes, it seems. As for the romance, I normally like it when relationships take a back seat to plot, but this one just feels tacked on. Callie and Michael go nowhere (as expected) and Blake disappears for most of the last third of the book. I did not care at all about who Callie got together with, so I sort of shrugged all that off. What happened at the very end with Blake was super gross though (in my opinion) and almost ruined the whole thing for me!

So, in the end, I’m not sure how different this dystopia is from others, shoddy science included, but it was interesting and entertaining. Callie isn’t too dumb to live, thankfully, and the story is okay. If you like dystopia, this one isn’t boring or slow, so there’s that going for it. I’d check it out when it’s published in a few weeks!