Starters by Lissa Price

I was pleasantly surprised by Starters by Lissa Price, but I thought it could be better. The cover is really striking, though, and I did enjoy reading it.
A disease has wiped out a majority of the population, only the vaccinated survive leaving the really young and really old. Callie Woodland is left with only her little brother, Tyler, when her parents die; without grandparents to claim them, Callie and Tyler must live off the dangerous streets. Callie wants to make a better life for them so she resorts to renting her body at Prime Destinations. Senior Citizens “rent” out the bodies of young teens to enjoy youth again — partying, dancing, drinking, etc. After Callie decides to rent out her body for a large sum of money (enough to get them off the streets forever), Callie is shocked to find that her renter doesn’t want to party, she wants to kill.
This novel was really exciting to read. The concept was neat and plausible. Children and senior citizens are the first to be vaccinated, so it makes sense that they would be the most likely to survive. The disease is described as a spore (I literally had to look it up.), which again is plausible and shows that Lissa Price did a lot of research for her novel. I was impressed by Price but she didn’t completely blow me away.
I was initially pulled into the book, engrossed in the world Callie lives in but every once in a while the writing would be inconsistent and I felt like I was “dropped” out of the world Price created. It was like I became aware that I was reading, and where usually it reads like a visual movie in my head,  the words stuck out too much it took me out of my trance, so to speak. I didn’t like the inconsistency; it was distracting.  Hopefully, Price will perfect her writing style in the next book.
I loved that Callie was so devoted to her little brother, Tyler. She loved him so much she rented her body to a stranger. Can you imagine? Letting someone else use your body? It gives me the creeps, yet I can understand why she did it. The streets in Callie’s world are not forgiving and I, too, would have done whatever it took to get out.
Once Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she finds herself in the rich, lavish world of her renter, the story really takes off. I enjoyed her investigation once she figures out her renter’s plot for murder. I especially enjoyed her relationship with the Senator’s son, Blake. It was the perfect amount of romance to be realistic. There was even a hint of a potential love triangle between Blake and Michael, the boy she lives on the streets with that’s taking care of her little brother while she’s being rented. I thought Price squashed potential story lines too quickly, or maybe she didn’t want a love triangle? Either way, both guys had feelings for Callie.
There are a lot of strange twists in this novel. It’s not the kind you “don’t expect,” but it’s so strange no one could see it coming. For example, Blake doesn’t end up being who he says he is; I kind of hated Price for awhile once that was revealed. Also, I thought there were strange references to fairytales like Cinderella or Wizard of Oz out of the blue. It left me puzzled. Was it a coincidence? Or was it supposed to mean something?
There was a lot of build up for the next book towards the end, however, it took away from the closure of this book. The ending seemed rushed but left a lot open for the next installment. The one thing that really made me mad was Callie’s disinterest in helping unclaimed minors like her in the end. She’s given some good luck, it disappointed me she didn’t share it. The second book, Enders, comes out December 12, 2012. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes with everything, especially the relationship between her and Blake.

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