Starters by Lissa Price
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. (Goodreads)
Callie is has been given an enticing option; a way to provide money, safety and a better life for her little brother, Tyler. After all, he’s her responsibility now that her parents are dead. The Spore Wars have killed off everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty, leaving a world full of Enders—the older generations who can live upwards to two-hundred years—and the Starters, the younger generation. These groups of people survived the war because they, being the most at risk, were vaccinated first against the deadly spores.
Struggling to survive, Callie and Tyler have been living on the streets for the past year since their mom died and their father was taken away, the looming threat of his impending infection too great a risk to the rest of society. They’ve befriended another Starter, Michael, and the three of them are practically starving, squatting in abandoned buildings, dodging violence and trying to hold out hope that things will change.
Then Callie hears about Prime Destinations. They offer Callie more money than she can possibly imagine in exchange for her body. They’re a discreet business, catering to wealthy Enders who wish to live in a Starter’s young, healthy body for a while. PD sweeps the bodies clean of any nasty flaws, inserts a chip into their brain, hooks everyone up via computer, and bingo! Insta vacation for the Ender. Even better, the Starter wakes up afterward with no recollection. What could be easier?
Callie only has to do three rentals to get the money. The first two go by in a snap. If only the third one had gone quite as smoothly. Instead, Callie wakes up finding herself embroiled in whatever strange life the Ender was living—which, crazy alert, includes a murder plot! And a cute guy. There is always, always, a cute guy.
This book instantly drew me in. I’m a sucker for anything that has a Twilight Zone vibe and, hello, this screams insanity. The overall experience at Prime Destinations is creepy, precisely because it isn’t (at first). It shouldn’t be as easy as it was. It shouldn’t seem crazy not to do it. I mean, were I in Callie’s shoes, I would have gotten completely sucked in too. It seemed like the answer to all of her problems.
I liked Callie, especially her devotion to Tyler. As much as she probably wanted to crawl into a corner and die, she fought on. But as she attempts to make friends and make sense of everything, I found it really disturbing that she starts to fall for a guy. I get that he’s hot and that she’s still a teenager, but it seemed weird to me that she was interested in going on dates when, you know, there was someone in her head who wanted to commit a heinous crime. Also, what about her little brother? She still has an underlying concern for him, but that should have taken precedence over her love life (and most of the time it does…but not all of the time). I saw the draw in her love interest, Blake, but it just felt strange to even go there when her head is still somewhat attached to some old broad back at Prime Destinations.
Also, there was a huge EEEEEEEWWWWW moment near the end. I think you’ll know it when you get there. It may take some recollection, but you’ll see it.
Still, despite those two minor issues, I was totally into this book. It was a pretty sweet ride and I am definitely going to read the sequel, Enders.
Crush Intensity: 4/5
The Way I See It:
Thanks, as always, to my friends at Gone Pecan for sharing their copy!