Author: Lissa Price
Publisher: Random House
Published: March 13, 2012
Add On: Goodreads
In a dystopian society where a so-called ‘Spore Wars’ have wiped out all those aged between 20 and 60, Callie, our main character, is forced to turn to Prime Destinations, a facility in which teen bodies are ‘rented out’ for the elderly population. With no living Enders (those aged above 60) to claim for her and her sick brother Tyler, Callie makes a bold decision in an attempt to depart the life of squatting and scavenging. Leaving Tyler in the care of her friend Michael, she prepares for the unbearable – shutting down for a month while an Ender takes full control of her body. What Callie isn’t prepared for is a glitch in the system. Waking up to find her body living a rich and alien life and having no idea of what went wrong at Prime Destinations, she soon finds herself in the middle of something much greater and more significant than she had bargained for...
With a premise so riveting, it was difficult not to expect excellent things from this book. Admittedly, the mixed reviews dampened my enthusiasm a little, but the bar was still set high for Starters and I was determined to enjoy it. And enjoy it, I did – sort of. While the world-building was mostly mesmerizing (with the exception of a few aspects), and the plot was fairly engaging, everything else fell flat and failed to meet my high expectations. Callie for instance, was distant and indistinguishable from the typical main characters in average young adult reads. I neither liked nor hated her. I was indifferent to her, and for that reason, there was very little emotional investment from me as a reader.
What I did appreciate was the start and end of this book. The opening was gripping and instantly weaved together a picture of the setting and the state of society in Callie’s world. The writing was easy and comfortably paced, and it didn’t take long at all for me to declare myself hooked to the story. It was intriguing to find out about Prime Destinations and the process by which a body is prepared for rental, including the pre-rental makeover. After all, if you were 150 years of age and shamelessly looking to borrow a younger and fitter body to wear, you would want to get your money’s worth and also look beautiful, right? It’s a scary thought – leaving your body behind while you float off to god knows where and having no control or awareness of what you are doing. I was entranced by Lissa Price’s world, but, unfortunately, this was momentary as the story soon appeared to be running in slow motion.
Detail doesn’t hurt. Yes, I am forever complaining of drifting off when there is too much detail in a book, but that is when detail is unnecessary. In Starters, I wanted a better understanding of the Spore Wars and hope that is something the sequel will bring us. I also wanted to know more about Tyler and Michael – two characters I felt were cheated out of screen time. Both appealed to me almost instantly and, surprisingly given the limited presence they had in the book, both appealed to me a great deal more than Callie and any other character. Again, a better chance for the reader to appreciate the relationship between Callie and Michael and Callie and Tyler is something I hope the sequel will deliver on, though this is personal preference.
Although the middle fell flat and dragged occasionally, once I entered the last quarter or so of the book, the story transformed into something fully entrancing and impossible to draw away from. With action and plot twists I would never have imagined, the ending of the book has most definitely got to be my favorite part. I only wish the rest of the book had as much spark. Regardless, that ending has secured the fate of this series and I will definitely be reading book two once it is released. It makes enduring the duller parts of this story worthwhile which is why I still recommend giving this a try.
Rating: 3 stars