Author: Lissa Price
Series: Starters #1
Published: 13 March 2012 by Delacorte for America. 29 March 2012 by Doubleday (Random House) for the UK
Length: 368 pages
Warnings: violence 12+
Other info: This is Lissa’s debut novel.
Summary : 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. . . .
Review: In a post-war world, only the under twenties (Starters) and the over sixties (Enders) are still alive. Due to the fact that medicine extends life to, possibly, two hundred, it’s understandable that the Enders don’t want to stay in their own decrepit bodies. So what do they do? Rent out those of Starters. Callie is a Starter, forced out of her home at the end of the first chapter. With nothing else to do, she has to rent out her body. The first two rentals go well. The final one...not quite. There’s periods where she’s aware of what’s going on with her body, and she can even communicate with the renter. At first look, Heather is using Callie’s body for murder. But, after a little digging, Callie discovers there’s a lot more to the Renting business than she thought.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. It’s an original idea that could be pulled off any number of ways, and, being Lisa’s debut, there’s nothing else to compare this to.
The initial concept, as well as being original, is very slightly disturbing. Not totally, like in Unwind, but anyway, unnerving. Then you hear about Old Man’s plans... and yeah. Not nice in parts.
The characterisation is great. Just because it made my favourite character Helena. I loved her. I really did, once we knew what her intentions were. So score for Lissa’s great writing, because we don’t actually meet Helena. We hear her voice, and we get her interactions with Callie, and we see her home, and we understand her morals. But we never actually meet her in the way that you’re used to meeting characters. Callie was a good character, strong and inquisitive. Her interactions with everyone else (Starters, Enders and Renters) were believable and I kind of felt bad when we realise something quite major about the grandson she’s been trying to get with.
There’s always something happening. The pacing is great, and my interest levels stayed high throughout. And none of it was predictable. The bombshell at the end, things in the middle. Kept me guessing and kept me hooked.
The ending was great. While it does give closure for some things, there’s still space for things to develop-which I think we’ll be seeing in book two.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a really griping and original dystopian-adventure. Can’t wait for book two-Enders.