Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Read from April 2, 2012
to April 4, 2012
Book: Starters by Lissa Price
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 368 pages
Genre/s: Young Adult, Dystopia


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. - Goodreads

Excerpt: "Did Cinderella ever consider fessing up to the prince, that night she was enjoying herself in the fancy ball gown? Did she even think of telling him, oh, by the way, Prince, the coach isn’t mine, I’m really a filthy little barefoot servant on borrowed time? No. She took her moment. And then went quietly away after midnight."

I think it's important to note my previous reading history before I landed myself into the world of Starters. I read How To Kill A Rock Star by Tiffany DeBartolo which totally rocked my socks off and Partials by Dan Wells which was now enlisted as one of the best dystopians I've read this year. The thing is,  although those two books are from different genres (the former is contemporary BTW), they are both masters in the art of plot twist. 

Definitely, I'm on my reading high and I was expecting a lot from Starters. Unfortunately, it was in a lack of a better word, just OK. And yes, I need to explain that but I think I'd let this out of the bag first.

I just don't get it. 

If you have read the synopsis, it sounded so awesome, and I'm so optimistic that aside from delivering something new and wow-zah in the dystopian genre, Starters would be mindblowingly good. The concept was indeed original and the basic question was, "Would you in exchange of a big fat check (totally got that from **HIMYM, sorry where was I?) allow others to rent your body?" 

You see, in Callie's world, unclaimed minors are scrounging for money and a place to stay. The streets are dangerous and children kill for food even for a single cookie. The Marshals are everywhere and if you're not street smart and a runner-extraordinaire you could end up in an institution. They don't have parents anymore and being an unclaimed minor is the worst thing that you could ever be. The Enders is on the complete opposite side of the scope, they are wealthy, they live luxurious life and they could buy anything, even your body. And yup, I forgot that this was all after the war, the so-called Spore Wars, wherein the only vaccinated people, the younger and the older ones lived. 

Sounds tragic, right? It was. I was hooked from the first page. I think I didn't care for a character any faster than I did with Callie and Tyler. I could see the devotion of Callie to his little brother. His sick and she's the only one that's there. She's the grown-up now and she has to do the surviving for both of them. So she went to Prime Destination (in short, Prime--meh) and signed for a three rentals meaning three Enders get to use her body and she's done. However, by her third and last rental everything fishy starts to unfold.

Cue for the fun stuff to start. But you know what, I got lost. Somewhere when everything was supposed to be happening, I was confounded. I tried to be as gripped as I was but I just couldn't. So I did other things. Worst decision ever. Not only that made me more detached from everything, the world started to lose its attraction. 

But let's be more objective.

There are great points to Starters. The protagonist, Callie was relatable and endearing. She always thinks of others especially her little brother, Tyler. As I said, the concept was original. The pacing was great from the start. The villain was creepy. The Old Man was really something. Starters indeed has its moments, because if Tyler and Callie's and other unclaimed minors didn't break your heart, then Sara from the Institution would.

However, its great points also somehow become it's not so great points. Callie while relatable and endearing at first, became somewhat dreary to me in the long run. She was a survivor, yes. She has his brothers best interest at heart, yes. But why, is she so invincible? Why is she holding a gun every second and lose it everytime she closes her eyes. OK, that's totally off the point, but yes, why don't she have any concussion or limp from all the bumping and falling she gets from all her escapade. 

What my point really is, before you ask what's this got to do with anything, this little point along with some others just made it so unrealistic for me. I think my brows were so close to hitting the ceiling as I turn pages and pages, and I keep seeing Callie as a bad version of Angelina Jolie in Salt. 

I do think this all boils down to the concept of "body renting". Who in their right minds, especially older adults in their 150s-200s wants to use another body for fun? Are old people really like that? Do they fantasize to be young again so that they could party harder and be more attractive? Then those who undergo the renting gets to have a chip in their brains, and then the Enders get to used their body? If the technology was that advanced, then why weren't they able to vaccinate everyone so that nobody would die?

And to be honest, I just don't really understand this body renting business, how it works, how the real body is in some other place sleeping, while the Enders whose using the body is in the club sipping drinks or flirting. Why can someone alter the chip but not take it out? How the hell can you alter the chip without taking it out? Why did it not explode if you somehow did manage to alter it without taking out? I have questions, so many questions. 

I don't know. I still don't know what I feel about Starters even after all those griping and questioning. It wasn't really that bad. I think it just didn't work for me. Am I excited to read the sequel? Not really but I will read it, I swear. Like I said, I have so many questions and there's only one way to find out, read the sequel and hope for the best.

Cupid's Verdict:

3 Cupids

An advance copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley.

**I was referring to How I Met Your Mother, a hit comedy TV series on CBS. 


  1. Love your review! I actually thought the same things while I was reading starters.. I wished i knew more about this whole business. We share similar tastes in books!! :D

    - juhina

    1. I know! It would've been more epic, I think! Glad to know we share similar book tastes. :D

  2. +JMJ+

    Oh, man! The science and world building sound horrible. Look at all those plot holes . . . =(

    I was intrigued by the body rental premise of Starters because I thought it was a new way to discuss the ethics of prostitution. (If you had starving dependents, would it be okay . . . ?) But now that I've read your review, I don't think I care to find out just what Lissa Price has done with the idea!

    1. Um, it's not exactly prostitution. I mean, that was one of the exemption in the body renting business. They actually protect the body, it's just that this is a shady business and although there are rules, there are consequences to it. I am sincerely hoping that the plot holes would be filled up in the future installments because it'd really be a waste since the concept is so intriguing.

    2. +JMJ+

      You took me too literally, but then again, I didn't express myself that well. Given that the traditional understanding of "body rental" is prostitution, I had hoped Starters would be a PG-13 look at such "victimless crimes." But my sense of satire and Lissa Price's seem to go in two different directions.

    3. That I did. *headdesk* I shouldn't have taken that literally. :D Well, I didn't thought of this concept by Starters that way before. I guess that'd would make an interesting story.

    4. +JMJ+

      No worries! =) I think it's cool that you actually respond to comments.

    5. I love comments! And you're way cooler for commenting! :)

  3. Nice honest review! I keep seeing reviews of this where everyone says it's okay. Kinda disappointing with how the synopsis sounds not all books can be 5 stars.

  4. I read similar review on Goodreads about this book. Too bad because the blurb sounds exciting. Nice review, honest but still hopeful for a better sequel :)

  5. I am so glad that I am not the only one who is on the fence about this one. I love the cover, but whats on the inside was between good and really good for me. I just don't know. I definitely want to read Enders, though. I might reread this book first though, and see if anything changes the second time around, or at least see if I can buckle down how I really feel about it

  6. Great review!:) Been wanting to read this since my colleague brought it to work:) THANKS!


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