Starters is the first novel in the Starters Series by Lissa Price. (I think at the moment it is planned to be a duology.)
A couple of years ago during the spore wars, a biological agent wiped out everyone in the US who wasn’t vaccinated. And since there wasn’t enough medication, the weakest members of society (and the very rich) where the only ones inoculated: the young and the old. Now Callie lives in a society where the old – Enders – run everything and the young – Starters – have to fend for themselves, if they don’t have any old family left. Callie doesn’t, apart from her little brother Tyler who she tries to care for. But caring means needing money, so Callie goes to Prime Destinations to let an Ender take over her body and experience being young again.
Starters was an engrossing, well-paced read. The set-up is interesting and Callie is a good protagonist and relatable character. I blazed through the book and already ordered the second one.
There’s a lot in Starters that you can dissect but mostly it’s not the most intellectually challenging book. But the world is pretty much logical and well-built, with an interesting set-up that makes sense. Which is a balance that is harder to achieve that one might think.
The whole Prime Destinations business was sufficiently creepy in all its implications and reminded me a little bit of Dollhouse. The only thing that didn’t work for me quite so well was the whole “nobody knows who the Old Man is” business. While I did think his mask was a fascinating (and disturbing) idea, that mystery felt a bit forced to me. But it didn’t bother me too much.
Callie is a relatable character and I liked reading things from her perspective. Her choices, while not always the best choices, never come out of the blue – you always know where she is coming from in what she does. And the romance (of course there is romance, it’s a young adult dystopian novel) is never central because Callie has other shit to worry about. That also makes the love-triangleness (that is kept rather small but it’s still there) bearable.
Price knows how to pace her book and so it barely feels like it takes any time at all to read it. I was completely engrossed and I really wanna know how things will continue from here.