Starters by Lissa Price
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Reading level: Young Adult
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.
-- from Goodreads.com
Almost a week to the day before I received Starters as part of the AmBUZZador program over at RandomBuzzers.com, I had re-watched the entire 2 season series of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. I have always loved the futuristic idea of renting bodies & the moral & ethical questions it raises. Not to mention the imagination that comes into play when designing what happens to the bodies & their counterparts. So I picked up Starters & it was as if Ms. Price had taken a seed of Whedon's basic idea then re-imagined & re-packaged it into something completely her own & meant for young adults. I was hooked immediately.
I wasn't sure at first how the story would unfold & where a story like Starters could go. I was pleasantly surprised to see how gently Ms. Price pulled Callie out of her comfort zone & thrust her into situations that really tested her emotional & mental strength. The characters are carefully crafted without any useless details or unnecessary quirks. Each page peeled back a little more of their layers leaving you astounded by some of what you found beneath the assumed exterior.
I have read criticism on the love story in this book because Blake is seemingly nothing special. What I think these readers have failed to take into account is that this is Callie's first experience of any kind with romance. The first boy who has really made his feelings known to her. The first time she's even been around those types of feelings because the war wiped out her normal existence in which she would have seen movies & television shows & had friends who would have talked about it all. But she didn't. It's like Blue Lagoon, guys. She would hardly be aware of her own body's ability to react physically to a boy because no one has ever taught her. I love that Ms. Price was able to infuse this level of innocence into the story & make it believable to me.
What I would have liked to have seen more of was the world in which the story is set -- beyond Callie's perspective. Ms. Price gives tantalizing tidbits here & there & I hope we will be treated to much more in the next installment because what we did get was fascinating. Also, is it wrong of me to hope for maybe a little romantic angst with the villain in Enders? No, I didn't think so!