Author: Lissa Price [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in what I believe will be a duology.
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
Published: March 13th, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle edition.
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley.
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Callie and her younger brother have been living as squatters on the street since losing their parents to a genocide virus. Unlike the lucky kids, they have no grandparents to take care of them. When her brother is sick, and they are evicted from a building holding all of their meager belongings, Callie feels she’s reached the end of her rope. She decides to sign on at Prime Destinations. Three rentals, and she’ll be free, with an astronomical paycheck. The thought of an Ender renting her body for fun disgusts Callie, but not as much as letting her brother die. Callie is in for more than the contract, however, when she realizes that the woman renting her body has more in mind than being young and having fun. Who is she supposed to turn to, and what is she supposed to do with so little control?
So here’s where I get sheepish, because just last week I faulted Partials for being too similar to Battlestar Gallactica. Well, if that bothered me, I only loved Starters all the more for basically being the novelized YA version of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. I’ll just go ahead and pin that “Hypocrite” badge to my chest now, thank you!
I was sold on Starters from the moment I picked it up. Not only does the cover give you that totally eerie feeling of being watched, but the story grabs you and doesn’t let you go till the closing page. Imagine a future where the United States has been ripped apart in a war. The country has suffered the release of a virus engineered for destruction, but luckily they had a vaccination...just not enough for everyone. I could totally buy this circumstance--the elderly and children being the most vulnerable were the ones to receive the cure, unfortunately, the adults weren’t immune either and perished. This left countless children, “Starters” because they’re at the start of their lives, at the mercy of the “Enders”, who are at the end of theirs. The Starters can’t vote, work, or fend for themselves in any way that isn’t scraping and surviving on the streets. Only Starters with surviving grandparents to claim them have any semblance of ‘normalcy’, though even those kids have struggled with the situation of a country torn and parents lost. I was shocked at the implication that the elderly of this nation would just abandon so many of the young, but as the story unfolded, the situation became more believable. There weren’t enough Enders with grandchildren or benevolent hearts to provide for the mass numbers of Starters, but that doesn’t mean that all Enders were bad, or that the government didn’t attempt to provide solutions (however terrible).
I would like to get a bit more of the back story of the Spore Wars, and the circumstances leading up to Starters. I appreciate that there were no info-dumps, but it would be nice to uncover more. After all, who doesn’t want to learn more about our country becoming such a mess that Mexico would build a wall to keep us out? I have high hopes that my questions will be answered in Enders. Also, there is a prequel short, Portrait of a Starter, but I haven’t read it. The tragedy of Starters was the children--they became the greatest victims of a war they had no part in. Isn’t this always the case with war? Certainly, but in Starters, it is in your face and more apparent than ever.
I loved that Callie’s experience slightly paralleled Cinderella’s. This girl from the streets, no better than trash, is given the opportunity to glam up and turn it all around. For a time. Like every Cinderella story, there’s a deadline, and there’s more to the story than can be seen on the surface. Oh! And there’s even a total Newsies scene! Love it!
Starters was action-packed in a way that had my heart pumping and my brain locked in. The last time I can pin-point this exact sensation while reading would be during James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Both post-apocalyptic books will have you on the edge of your seat, and literally nauseated with the twists and turns that humanity takes. That, for me, was the best and most powerful thing about Starters. Despite its similarities to Dollhouse, I had no freaking idea where this book was going. I don’t dare reveal much of the plot lest it be ruined for others, but as someone who appreciates the unpredictable greatly, I will say that Starters had my jaw dropping and my head exploding by the end.
Likelihood that I'll be back for more: Absofreakinlutely. Starters earned a place on my favorites of 2012 shelf, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Enders towards the end of this year.
Recommended for: Dollhouse fans, those who enjoy post-apocolyptic/sci-fi YA ala The Maze Runner, body snatchers.
Real life repercussions of reading this book: Well duh. If you haven’t seen Dollhouse, you really ought to go watch it. It’s only 2 seasons, and so effed up the entire time you’ll be thinking ‘how the heck did this ever get on tv?’. Plus, it’s Joss Whedon!