Title: Starters Author: Lissa Price Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers Date Published: 13 March 2012 Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia Hardcover: 352 pages Source: Net Galley approved by Random House Children's Books Rating: 4/5 stars
First of all many thanks to
the publisher Random House and Net Galley for this ARC. I wish I could've read Starters
before it was launched but there were a few things that came up in my life that
needed my time. That said, I saw this unforgettable cover from Amazon, as a
title to be released this March, and the blurb sounds like something I would
enjoy reading and I wanted to read the book since. I found out that the
publisher is having a giveaway from Lissa Price's site but I missed it, and
that's when I requested a copy from Net Galley. Congratulations Lissa Price for
this strong debut piece.
In the future, after the Spore wars ended the life of those
between the ages of 20 and 60 (called Middles), who weren't given a vaccine
shot (some Middles used their influence and power to get vaccinated and we'll
get to meet some of them in the second book entitled Enders), Starters, (kids
and teens) who do not have working or rich relatives to claim them, are
fighting to survive in the streets living in terror of Marshals who would
capture them and take them to inhumane institutions and wary of renegade Starters
who are desperate enough to kill for food. Callie at sixteen with her seven
year old sick brother Tyler and their neighbor/friend Michael, have been
running for a year. All she wants is a place to call home, food and medicine
for Tyler, and she can have all of these for a whole year with the money Prime
Destinations is offering - for a price. That price is her young body for three
engagements. Fans of the television series Dollhouse (starring Elizah Dushku),
will also enjoy Starters which poses the same moral quandaries and more. In
Starters, donors' bodies cannot be used for illegal purposes such as killing or
for sex, unlike in Dollhouse, but does that make the act of renting more
In Starters, Middles weren't able to get vaccinated because
those who were weaker were vaccinated first. My initial thought on the matter
is: the more logical action for the State to take is to give the vaccine to
those who would be assets in ensuring the continuity of the existence of the
community, exactly those who would be deemed the fittest, the best and
strongest in their field, and they can't be too old either to be productive.
However, I read Price's statements in an article that this idea came to her
because of her personal experience in Costco, trying to get a flu shot.
Pharmaceutical companies didn't make enough vaccine that year and the
government had to set up a system where the young, old and the infirm would be
vaccinated first and she didn't get her shot. I think it's a possibility if doctors/scientists
came to an incorrect conclusion that Middles would be able to survive the
spores because they are still strong. I wanted to include the author's
statement here for those who are second guessing the structure of Callie's
after the Spores war world.
Starters is plot driven, filled with non-stop suspense in every
page. My heart was constantly beating fast because there is that gnawing
feeling that Tyler could be taken any moment and things could go very wrong.
Set at a fast pace that made me not let go of the book until I finish it in one
reading with unpredictable twists at every turn and an ending that will make
you want December to come for the next installment!
I didn't give it five stars because I thought I needed more from
Starter's characterization. Callie's character is desperate, her every instinct
screams for her to protect her younger sibling, but that doesn't come out as
strong as it should in the story for me after she woke up in her renter's life.
None of Starter's secondary characters were memorable for me, I would love to
know more about them, particularly Michael and Blake, the two potential love
interests of Callie. Michael stars in his own short story, Portrait of a
Starter, and I think Starters would have been a five star book had it been
strong enough to stand on its own without the need for short stories to
supplement the characterization.
I thought that Callie's hair and eye color would be revealed
after her makeover or when she was in the club after she described Madison but
Price deliberately didn't reveal these details, and I thought it was very
clever, so that the readers would imagine Callie as themselves.
Some last thoughts..
I loved all the Cinderella allusions. It makes me think that
there is hope for Callie to find true love and change her life, after all,
Cinderella found her prince and changed her life. I also think Callie's mother
makes a good point, when she asked her husband, would we leave them without
anyone to protect them? And I really liked the flashbacks, very fluid, and