Friday, June 22, 2012

Starters - Lissa Price

Title: Starters
Author: Lissa Price
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2012 (Hardcover)
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction
Started: June 18, 2012
Finished: June 22, 2012

From the inside cover:
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of 20 and 60. She and her little brother, Tyler, are 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 almost feels 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've ever imagined...

I figured it had been a while since I'd had some new, non sequel, dystopian sci-fi, and the premise of this one seemed pretty good: swapping bodies and minds, paying underage minors for the use of said bodies, it was rife with ethical and moral questions. I wasn't expecting a huge post-modern kind of tale, but I was hoping it would at least be interesting and thought-provoking, sadly I didn't get any of those.

Starters starts out okay, but right from the beginning it expects the reader to rely a lot on the concept of "suspension of disbelief." We're never told why there was a war, why the spores were so lethal, why the government decided not to vaccinate people from age 20-60 when individuals can live as long as 150 (you'd think they'd up the ages to compensate), why in such an age of medical advancement does Tyler have a 'rare lung disease', why when there are so many unclaimed minors was there no kind of philanthropic attempts by these many rich Enders to somehow house and educate the orphaned Starters rather than use them as slave labour in institutions? So right off the bat I felt like I wasn't given enough information to really get into the story.

The characters seemed very flat and don't develop much. Callie seems incredibly protective of her brother yet leaves him with a stranger (her motivation seemed weak), we get no backstory on how Michael got to be there, Florina shows up and disappears just as fast, and Blake is so fake it's obvious. The plans of the antagonists in the story, once revealed, made me think "that's it?". So the novel didn't elicit a 'woah, that's eeeeevil, Callie's got to kick their butts!' kind of thought. Everything was just underwhelming I suppose, plus the way the plot came together seemed forced and very convenient, it wasn't believable.

Things did perk up right at the end with a bit of a twist leading into the next book (this is the first of either a duology or a trilogy), which makes me think this might've been just a shaky start, so I'd have to read the second book to see if the concerns I listed are improved upon.

Didn't blow me away by any means, so borrow it from the library rather than buying it to see if you like it more than I did.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love the microchip background and the silver and blue colour scheme. The model on the cover irks me, the image would seem more fitting if the story revolved around a robot or cyborg (the model has a very dead-like quality), but that's not the case here.

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