three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
58-May-June-2012
By: 
Lissa Price
user_rating: 
0

737252.pngSouthern California writer Lissa Price makes her debut with Starters, the first novel in a planned duology.

The Story: In a dystopian near future, the Spore Wars have wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first: the very young and the very old. Sixteen-year-old Callie, an unclaimed minor who has cared for her younger brother ever since her parents were killed, lives in dilapidated buildings and hides from the law. To dig themselves out of this bleak lifestyle, she decides to volunteer her body for use by Enders—old people who wish to relive their youths. Callie heads to Prime Destinations in Beverly Hills, a body bank that rents out good-looking teens for temporary use by wealthy Enders. But when the chip installed in her brain malfunctions and Callie awakes in a nightclub where she can hear the voice of her Ender, she discovers that her Ender has a plan for her. And it’s not good.
Delacorte. 352 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780385742375

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The only thing better than a terrific concept is one that is as well executed as Starters. … Dystopian sci-fi at its best, Starters is a terrific series kickoff with a didn’t-see-that-coming conclusion that will leave readers on the edges of their seats, waiting for the second and final book, Enders, which will be out this year." Susan Carpenter

My Bookish Ways 4 of 5 Stars
"Told in her voice, Starters doesn’t have much downtime and it’s a constant guessing game as to who Callie can trust. … The author created a terrifying future world, where conspicuous consumption is on obvious display, and there are people that think nothing of using a teenager’s body to live out the childhood they so desperately miss."

Deseret News HHHJ
"The plot and pacing of Starters are fast enough that it makes up for the minor shortcomings in building the world that Callie lives in. … There is also brevity in the explanation of exactly how a body really can be rented by another human being and the ability to use a body autonomously from its original owner." Emily Ellsworth

The Book Smugglers 3 of 5 Stars
"I know objectively that Starters has a significant number of flaws in terms of worldbuilding and depth—but on the other, I zipped through this story, conscious of the flaws yet thoroughly enjoying myself all the while. … There are so many unanswered questions, not just with the premise of the war, but the technology." Thea

Critical Summary

Whether Starters is an outstanding debut novel or simply a good novel with a fascinating premise, it’s nothing if not fast paced. Even critics who felt that Price doesn’t convincingly build her world (there’s no explanation of the Spore Wars or how the technology enables the Ender’s brain to control those forced to rent out their bodies) admired Price’s ability to keep the action—and the suspense—moving at a compelling pace. Although Callie’s decisions (for example, going on a date with a hot guy when she awakes in her body during the rental period instead of immediately returning to her brother) raised some eyebrows, critics cited her as captivating, flawed heroine. One really shouldn’t like Starters as much as one does, noted The Book Smugglers reviewer, "but you do. And I do. I’m not ashamed to say it. I’ll be back for Enders."