“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. . .
Starters is a YA adventure/mystery set in a futuristic Los Angeles. Ignore the cover- although creepily gorgeous it has nothing to do with the story. Which, by the way, is fairly creepy in concept.
I thought the book had a unique concept, and it wove some wonderful Cinderella re-telling moments in there. The Starters (teens) and Enders (those in their hundreds- everyone lives longer in the future) are contrasted in a way that reflects the socioeconomic contrasts of today: if we eliminate the middle class (or in the book, those between the ages of mid-20’s to 100), what happens?
I was glad that this wasn’t a stand-alone, but the first novel in a series. There were parts that were a bit Deus Ex Machina, but then Price would turn your expectation on its head with some new revelation. I really liked that Callie was realistically more concerned with the survival of her brother (and self) than taking down an evil corporation. Her voice seemed genuine, and believable.
Overall, I recommend this for fans of techno-dystopian YA, realistic female protagonists, overlapping mysteries, and good, creeptastic villains. Honestly, The Old Man freaked me out more than he freaked Callie out (if, after getting to the last page, you don’t shudder in revulsion, you have a heartier stomach than I do).
Here’s the book trailer, which is what caught my eye for this book in the first place: