Rating: 4 stars (Spotlight Review)
Lissa Price puts an interesting twist on the dystopian genre. Rather than setting her story in a world that has significantly changed, she has focused instead on the evolution of the people adapting to their environment.
In Price’s world, downtown Los Angeles is a little (more) worse for the wear after a biohazard war that saw the release of a killer spore that wiped out all who were unvaccinated; in this case, those in their mid to middle years, leaving only two types of people: the very young and the very old—Starters and Enders.
The aftermath left many children and teens orphaned, and if they didn't have grandparents to "claim" them, they were relegating to braving the danger of street life. Sixteen-year-old Callie, is one such person.
Left alone to raise her sickly little brother, Callie scrounges for every morsel of food and drop of water. With her brother’s health quickly worsening, Callie’s determination to find warm, clean living arrangements turns to desperation.
With no other choice, and the promise of a big payday, Callie signs up at Prime Destinations, a body-bank of sorts that allows wealthy Enders to relive their youth by renting a Starter's body.
Callie is given a full makeover, making her as perfect as possible, and a microchip is implanted in her head that allows the renter to take over her mind and body. Though renters are prohibited from doing anything illegal or harmful while inhabiting their host, a chip malfunction alerts Callie that her temporary guest has very deadly intentions.
Fans of Scott Westerfield will love Lissa Price. Price's bold voice and solid prose delivers a perfectly-paced, character-driven plot that portrays well-developed characters that are intrinsic to the story. Callie not only has strength and determination, but she is incredibly likable and endearing.
Price doesn't need cool little gadgets or futuristic toys to add excitement to her story. Her writing alone creates more than enough intensity and action.
Vividly imagined and wonderfully executed, Starters is the beginning of something fantastic.
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2012)