Starters

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Starters
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Age Range
12+
Release Date
March 13, 2012
ISBN
978-0385742375
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In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party--her body will commit murder, if her mind can't stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first--the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as enders, who get to be young again. Callie's neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It's a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank's horrible plan. . . .

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A Promising Premise

In STARTERS, a spore missile wiped out all non-vaccinated citizens and left only teenagers and the very old alive. The elderly, called Enders, run everything, and the teenagers/children, called Starters, are either claimed by an Ender family member or are condemned to a life on the streets where they run from marshalls who will commit them to institutions.

Enders have really long lives (due to technological advances that seem to have been in place before the book started), and some of them want the thrill of being young again. That's where a company called Prime Destinations comes in. Prime entices unclaimed Starters with promises of wealth and security to allow PD to implant a chip in their brains that will allow an Ender to rent their body and control it for the duration of the rental.

Callie signs up for Prime Destinations because she needs medicine and security for her sick younger brother. All goes well until the third rental when Callie's chip malfunctions, and she begins to regain sporadic control over her body again, discovering a murder plot in the process.

STARTERS has strong worldbuilding, which I love! We are immediately immersed in the dystopian world and new terms, history, and technological advancements are flawlessly woven into the narrative. It's an intriguing premise and a compelling world. The plot takes a little while to really get going, but I'm okay with a gentle escalation of tension. By the time we reach the middle of the book, it's a wild ride to the finish.

I was less enthusiastic about the character development and the plot from the middle of the book to the end. I felt like I was quickly told how Callie felt about things but was never really allowed to SEE Callie feeling those things and therefore experience it for myself. I didn't buy the romantic relationship, so when that was the motive for her actions, I had a hard time going along with it. And so many (!) things happen near the end, I got a bit confused and felt like I needed more explanation and a bit more clarity so I could believe everything.

That being said, this is a solid start to a fascinating dystopian series, and I think readers will be eager to have their questions answered in the sequel.

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Better dystopia!

Callie is trying to survive as an unclaimed minor with her young brother, Tyler, in a world where everyone but the very young and very old have died of a virus. Callie is squatting in an apartment building, so when she finds out she can make a lot of money at Prime Destinations, "renting" her body to "Enders" (older adults) who want to be able to live in a young body for a while, she leaves Tyler in the care of Michael and turns herself over to Prime. They give her a laser makeover so is is gorgeous, and rent her out for a day. Eventually, she is rented to Helena, but things start to go wrong-- she wakes up while posing as Helena and can hear her voice in her head. It turns out that Prime is not just taking unclaimed minors-- Helena's granddaughter joined Prime in order to get the makeover, and died. Helena is bound and determined to kill the owner of the business, so Callie tries to uncover what is going on. When Prime announces a new program for Enders to buy bodies instead of just simply renting them, Callie realizes that something must be done. Can she manage to take down prime but survive to take care of her brother?

Good Points
VERY nice twist in a dystopian novel. The science in the body switching seems plausible, and the construction of a post apocalyptic society is good. Callie grows as a character, the plot advances logically, and the conclusion is final enough for a single volume but leaves room for a sequel. Appropriate for middle school. My daughter loved the cover.
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(Updated: March 13, 2012)
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A Super Cool "Start"

Starters by Lissa Price was the most original dystopian I have ever read. I had heard tons of hype for Starters, and while it didn't quite live up to that ultimate level of awesome, I still found it to be a very enjoyable read.

The whole idea of Starters is just fascinating, and is what originally intrigued me. Lissa Price really steers away from anything that has been done before, and writes an original story. Starters ended up following a very different path from what I had been expecting, and it was a lot of fun to figure out who was behind what and see what twists Lissa Price would throw at you next.

The beginning of Starters was definitely slower, but by the end of the book the plot builds to a crazy intense high. When I was reading, I found myself a bit disinterested. There was never that urge to not want to put the book down for a minute because I needed to find out what was going to happen next.

I really loved the characters. Blake was awesome - what a charmer. Lauren was another pretty cool character. I'm very curious to see more of both of these two in the sequel!

I am very curious to see where the sequel goes after this one. Starters was a very promising debut from Lissa Price. It had a few flaws, but it was just very original and can only take off from here.

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(Updated: March 13, 2012)
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STARTERS is only the beginning...

STARTERS is a well written, interesting story full of heart pounding suspense, and has twists and turns that will leave you guessing right up to the very end! There's even a little romance thrown in for good measure. Acutally, this romance has the potential to break your heart but you'd have to be sure you know whose heart your breaking to begin with. *wink*

The Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty and forced Callie and her little brother Tyler into a life of hiding on the streets. Their friend Michael is another victim of the war and together they do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means stealing or risking their lives over a cookie. (OK, so Idk that I'd risk my life over a cookie. A cupcake? I.will.kill.you.in.your.sleep. ) When Callie learns about Prime Destinations, a place where Enders (seniors who long to be young again) can go to rent the bodies of teens, and pay big bucks to do so, she decides she's just desperate enough for the money. Tyler is sick and needs medicine and it's only three rentals, how bad can it be? What Callie doesn't know, or isn't told, is that her renter has a hidden agenda, one involving more than just reliving her youth.

When Callie's microchip (the one placed inside her head to facilitate the rentals) malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rental, she has a choice to make. Does she go back to Prime Destinations and explain what happened or does she continue on per her contract? After all, this is her chance to have the life she never had. Pretending to be her renter, she lives the life of luxury, driving sports cars, wearing the latest fashions and dating gorgeous Blake, who happens to be the grandson of a powerful Senator.

Callie knows the things in her renters world aren't real, but who else is pretending like her and whose a renter? Who can she trust? Things get more complicated the closer she gets to Blake and even more frightening when she discovers the true intentions of the man behind Prime Destinations. She'll have to decide if honoring her rental contract is worth the cost...and it will cost her, more than she ever imagined.

I have to admit I had a little trouble getting into this one at first. The premise of a hundred year old person "renting" a teenagers body like a rental car kinda creeped me out and I even contemplated moving on to another book but I'm so glad I stuck with it! The twists are really unexpected, the romance heart wrenching and the end left me both satisfied and anxiously awaiting the next book. STARTERS, is just the beginning...

Good Points
The cover is creepy cool! It was a little off putting to me at first but it's explained in the book and makes SO.MUCH.SENSE!
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Dollhouse?

This book def had a Dollhouse vibe going. In a world where the rich old can rent the bodies of orphaned young people, what’s to stop them from taking over good?
I truly can't wait to read the next book in this series!

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Giving your young body to old people... would you do it?

First of all: I love the cover. I don't know why. It just looks so cool.

WARNING: This is not your average dystopian novel. It is a world that is not completely destroyed, but one where nothing is perfect either (duh, its a dystopian).

Callie is a teenager. This may not sound so terrifying to you, but in the world that she lives in, people get to live up to be 200. So younger people are viewed as a kind of pest. I hated the old people (or the Enders, as Callie would call them). They basically thought that young people had no rights.

So anyway, Callie has a younger brother who she would do anything for. Even rent out her body to some crazy Ender.

I loved the concept of renting out your teenage body. I think it must have been so terrifying, to trust an old person you don't even know enough to let them into your body and do whatever they want with it. It just shows what some people will do for the people they love. And the Enders aren't exactly careful with them either. It just shows that we can't treat people like they are disposable. They all have lives, and the Enders didn't see it that way. They just saw them as disposable packages, like use once and throw away things.

As I said before Callie loves her brother more than anything (she doesn't have parents). She wasn't totally obsessive over him, but everything that she did in the book was done, not with though about what would happen to her, but with thought about what would happen to her brother. She was a great protagonist.

So, we open the story with Callie, who is a street rat fighting to stay alive. She is considering joining Prime Destinations, an illegal organisation that employs teenagers to rent out their bodies to old people who want to have a bit of fun. She would get a lot of money for it, but she's not sure. And I can relate to that. After all, you wouldn't just want to randomly rent out your body without thinking about it.

Then she decides to, and she has to tell Prime Destinations what kind of skills she has (the body doesn't lose the skills). When she mentions shooting, they become quite interested. For the first couple of rent-outs, everything's fine. It's just like falling asleep and waking up a week later.

Then. Someone rents Callie's body out for the specific use of shooting. Callie is reluctant, and she would have to be away for a month this time. But something goes wrong - Callie finds herself waking up in her body when she's not supposed to, and suddenly finds herself tangled up in a murder. How will she know what to do, when she could lose control at any second?

This is everything you could want - mystery: why is she trying to murder someone? Is there something wrong with Prime Destinations (just a hint: hell yes there is!) - action: avoiding the mysterious Old Man and trying to stop herself from murdering someone before it is too late - and romance with Blake, the cute guy (no love triangle).

And OH MY GOSH that ending twist was amazing. I am definitely itching to read the next book.

Good Points
Amazing concept, definitely something to give a try!
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What an ending

When I first sat down to read this book, I had my doubts because it looked very sci-fi like—which can be hit and miss for me; however, I love dystopian novels, so I figured I’d give this one a try. I’m certainly glad I did! Reminiscent of Dollhouse that aired on Fox, in Starters, a super secret organization called Prime Destinations employs starters (those under 19 in the futuristic society) to rent out their bodies to enders (people over 60). Most everyone between those ages is dead because of the Spore Wars (WW3 which ended in biological attacks on the US). The elderly and the young were vaccinated because they were vulnerable so when the attack came, anyone without the vaccine quickly died.

Callie is put in a no win situation—she has a very sick little brother Tyler and no money to get him medicine and no home to keep him safe. It was very easy to get to know her and relate to her as she began finding herself in treacherous situations. I felt like I was alongside her the whole way—when her heartbeat sped up, so did mine; when she smiled because of Blake (the resident cutie in the book), I smiled; and when she got curious, I got even more curious!!!

What struck me most about this book is how our future could end up very similar. How?

1.) We vaccinate the old and young first as well, leaving everyone else more susceptible.
2.) Biological weapons are a very real threat, especially if terrorists get their hands on one.
3.) People always want what they can’t have and thus will push technology and morality to the edge.

Now, there are some areas of the book where the action drags, but that really didn’t both me that much. The thing that bothered me was the lack of details in the Spore Wars and their society, but maybe that is something that will come in the future installments. For example, the enders can live up to 200 years old, but all we are told is that medical advancements allowed it—I would have like more information. I guess I’ll just have to wait in anticipation!

It’s definitely a thrill ride, and let me tell you this!

THE ENDING….OH MY GOSH….WHAT A TWIST!!!! I finished the book last night, and I woke up this morning turning situation after situation over and over in my head trying to figure out what is going to happen in the next book and what the twist really means!!!!

This would be a great book for any age! There are a couple of scenes in a nightclub, but it’s just some dancing (and the mention of the bar), and there are a few kissing scenes (I wish they were more swoon-worthy, but Lissa Price didn’t spend much time delving into Blake and making him oh-so-dreamy…another hope for the future books). Overall, not the greatest dystopian novel, but a definite must read for those who like this genre.

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(Updated: December 04, 2013)
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Literally Having an Old Soul

Who needs to rent out your house for a little extra cash when you can rent out your body? Not in that icky “escort” kind of way, but actually rent out your body by letting other people connect to your brain through a surgically implanted chip and paint the town red. That’s the concept of Lissa Price’s "Starters" where young people rent out their body to the elderly whose 100 plus year-old bodies just can’t do what they used to.

This book really made me think about how we take our bodies for granted. Until we reach those elderly years, we’ll never know what it’s like to have a body that can’t perform everyday tasks to athletic feats that we expect to be able to. Who can blame these futuristic old people for taking the one leap they can into a young’uns brain?

Good Points
Great concept.
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Renting your body out to old people...

Starters come as a massive surprise. It was so much better than I expected, by a long-run. This book is a different kind of dystopian, not a perfect world, but not a completely destroyed one. This world that Callie lives in is in between, old people rule and young kids are frowned upon and are considered a type of pest.

I hated the old people (or Enders), they disgusted me, how could they think that young people had no rights and were basically not real people!? Why would the Enders think that they are the boss, and since they are old, should realize that the world was not always like this. The Enders are seriously messed up, the war must of done something to their heads. I really hated the Enders.

Now the renting. I thought that this was an amazing idea. Trusting some crazy old person who is inside you and controls your actions is pretty scary. It makes you see how desperate some people get. You would also think that the renters would have some respect for the child's body they are occupying, but they hurt them, sometimes nearly killing them, thinking that it is a toy that they can replace. But these are real humans. This concept helps you see how precious human life is, and that living forever is not the key.

I think that Callie was a strong and respectable character who had been sadly hurt by the war that happened a few years back. She is alone in the world except for her brother, and she fights to help him survive. I think that the relationship between Callie and her brother was perfect. She was not obsessing over protecting him, but most of her actions were taken with thought about the outcome for her brother. I liked Callie, she was a great character.

I think that Starters was a great book. It has everything that you'll ever want in a dystopian. There is a mystery surrounding the plot (the Old Man), action with how Callie avoids him and a little bit of romance with Blake. This book is perfect.

Good Points
-I loved the whole concept, it was an amazing idea
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Starters (A Room with Books review)

Starters was both what I expected and a complete surprise.

I’m having some issues coming up with words today, so instead of paragraph form, we’re going to go with a list!

Likes:
1. The ending. I’m not a hater of cliffhangers, but I still really appreciate a book that very nearly wraps everything up, but leaves you with just enough questions that you’re left wanting the next book.

2. Callie. She was strong and usually knew exactly what she wanted which I can really respect. She never made any decisions that made me want to shake her which is a definite plus. She loved her brother and was willing to do anything for him. Heck, she even admitted when her love life was messed up. I really respected that.

3. The Old Man. Now, I know you think he shouldn’t be in the like category, but let me explain. He was perfectly creepy and a fantastic villain and that’s why he gets to be in the Like category. I don’t actually like him, of course :P

4. Renting. This idea reminded me somewhat of the show Dollhouse, but it was still unique. I actually thought it was interesting that people thought it was such a big no-no since they weren’t supposed to do anything damaging to the bodies. Not the I condone this type of thing.

5. The world. I really liked the fact that the world had futuristic things like airscreens, but still didn’t seem too far off.


Dislikes:
1. Blake and Callie. Upon finishing the book I can give it a little more credit, but it just felt kind of weird while I was still reading.

2. The past. I’m starting to feel like I’m never satisfied when it comes to backstory.

The Nutshell: Overall, Starters is a great dystopian with action, mystery, and just a little bit of romance. Callie is a respectable character with her love for her brother and her will to fight for what’s right. The world isn’t too heavy for those who’re wary of dystopian, but is still futuristic enough to satisfy us dystopian fanatics.

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An amazingly original dystopian that will surprise and awe you

At first glance at this book, you might think the same thing I did – it looks like a book about aliens or something of that nature, not interested. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong, my friends! Starters is an insanely awesome dystopian novel with a dark and twisty plot line, very shady characters, and a dastardly, menacing villan you won’t soon forget. Lissa Price definitely knows how to shock and surprise you, and there was plenty of that going on while reading.

The book starts out very ominous with Callie visiting Prime Destinations to see what it’s all about. It’s basically a company that rents out teen bodies to really old people who want to be young and carefree again. I mean, these are really, really old people – like past 100 years old. In this world all the old people are rich and most of the teens are poor because their parents died in the Spore Wars and they’re not allowed to work until they’re 19 years old. Anyways, Prime Destinations basically puts this chip inside your head which allows an Ender’s (old person) to enter yours and control your body, while your mind is basically asleep. They rent the bodies for days, weeks, sometimes months and when the actual teen awakens, they have no memory of any it. The real problem arises when Callie’s chip acts up and she is actually in control of her body again, but the Ender who rented her, is still in her mind as well. Through all that, Callie discovers all the dark and twisted stuff that Prime Destinations is really doing and just how dangerous the Old Man really is.

There are so many secrets and lies within this book, especially since so many Enders rent out Starters, it’s hard to tell who is really who. All Callie wanted to do was earn some money for her and her brother, but once her neurochip started acting up, she became tied into this evil conspiracy to the point where it’s basically up to her to stop it all. I loved all the action, mystery, and heart-stopping moments and was very happy to see that Lissa doesn’t bore the reader with too much frivolous detail. The pace was very enjoyable and I loved the world that she created.
Probably the only thing I didn’t care about was the romance arc. There are two guys who come into play, Michael and Blake, and although there are some sweet moments, it was very minuscule and I found Callie and Blake’s relationship unbelievable. Their relationship is significant to the story, you’ll see, but their feelings towards each other didn’t do much for me. I definitely wasn’t into this book for the romance.

The Old Man is an excellent villan. Because he’s such a crazy and powerful guy with evil intentions, he never lets anyone see his face and instead wear this holographic-like mask. The effects it displays are quite twisted. He definitely presents himself with a degree of arrogance and darkness that can easily make anyone fear him. Oh, and there was one surprise at the end I totally didn’t see coming, and it kind of disgusted me in a “that is wickedly twisted, I love it” kind of way! And talk about cliffhanger endings!

If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, then you’ll definitely want to pick this one up because it is epic. Highly intriguing, mysterious, and captivating – a true must read.

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Starters - Lissa Price

When I finished this book I told myself that I had loved it, but as I sat down to compose the review I found myself finding more negatives than positives, with most of the issues coming down to the style of the writing itself.

In this dystopian read, the Spore Wars have drastically upset the social structure. Set in California in the not too distant future, disease has wiped out all adults, leaving only young people (Starters) and the elderly (Enders) remaining.

With no surviving relatives, Callie is forced to squat illegally and scrounge for food to keep herself and her younger brother, Tyler, alive. After hearing of Prime Destinations, an illegal company which allows Enders to rent the bodies of Starters, Callie decides to volunteer. After all, the reward is a massive sum of cash which would spell the end of the dire circumstances she is currently in. But when it becomes clear that the Ender renting her body is planning murder, Callie is forced to get involved.

The Good – Callie carries this book completely – she is the only character developed to full potential. The actual premise of the book is pretty unique (although, I think extreme makeovers are becoming far too common in dystopian fiction. Yes, I know that we are a society which longs for perfection, but it’s getting to be overkill). I really enjoyed the interaction between Callie and Helena in the second half of the book, and I think the twist at the end was a smart move, I definitely want to read the sequel!

The Bad – The cover didn’t really appeal to me, although the choice is explained within the narrative. My main issue was the actual writing skill presented within the text. There was way too much telling and not enough showing. A lot of the points the author wanted to convey were revealed through dialogue, which is fine, but it was all too convenient. It was hard to get lost in the story; much of the book seemed to be useless filler. Far too much ‘maybe this, maybe that…’ – things were spelled out too much. Characterisation could be improved, as well. The relationship between Michael and Callie, and Callie and Blake, both seemed a little vague and unconvincing. Still, I kept turning the pages and the pace was great, overall, a good debut novel from Price.

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(Updated: May 18, 2012)
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Yes to All of This

Obviously, I was looking forward to Starters, because it includes the magic word in its description: dystopia. However, I wasn't nearly as pumped about it as about a lot of others (The Selection for example. Why? Because the cover seriously gives me the heebie jeebies! Most dystopias go for the gorgeous covers to lure the reader in, but they definitely didn't here, even though they could have justifiably. I admire that they did their own thing here, but I still don't want to stare at this cover for too long!

Starters grabbed me from the very beginning. From the first words, both Callie and the society she's living in come alive. Callie is an amazing narrator, strong and sassy, even when completely at wit's end. Actually, all of the characters are incredibly awesome, full of depth and personality. I really like Blake, but, hey, I also love Michael. Heck, I even like Tyler, and I don't usually much like moppets.

When I first read the description above, I already knew that the book was about old people (Enders) borrowing the bodies of young people (Starters), so I was really confused about the whole Spore Wars business. I was worried it might be overkill; some dystopias try to make everything that can possibly go wrong all happen all at once, which can end up just being ridiculous. Anyway, Price builds a firm foundation for her world of Enders and Starters with the Spore Wars. Excellent world building! The one thing I would really like to know more about in particular is how the Enders are able to live so long, and also how the society still functions the same with so many people gone.

I find it really comforting that, despite the sheer mass of dystopian novels, with more on the way, authors can still find new, astounding things to do with the genre. Although Starters can definitely be compared to some other dystopian titles (Unwind for example), it definitely stands on its own two metaphorical feet as something unique. Her story is in no way just a reimagining of something extant or an awkward mishmash of several other dystopias (which Matched sort of was).

Even though I guessed some of the ending, I still loved it. Price didn't go for the easy cliffhanger; there's a resolution of sorts, although obviously there's still more to be done. Usually, a book is less fun if you figure out a twist early on, but I actually liked Starters more because of it, because the reason that I knew is that Price hid a clue. I love finding the one hint; it makes me feel so smart.

I think I may just have found a new favorite dystopia and possible new favorite author. My ARC informs me that Enders will come out in Winter 2011, but I'm assuming they meant 2012, haha. CANNOT WAIT. Okay, I should officially have been asleep for about a half hour now, but I just had to finish reading this. If you like dystopias, get this now. Actually, if you like good books of any sort get this now!

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(Updated: September 29, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
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4.0
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4.0

Starters by Lissa Price

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4.5
 
0.0 (0)

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