Starters by Lissa Price

Starters cover with borderThis is a good Young Adult Dystopian Science Fiction novel that could have been much better. The premise isn’t really good, but it doesn’t completely suck, either. At some time in the near future, friction between the United States and Pacific Rim countries reaches such a level that the PR countries develop a bomb that kills everyone between about 20 and 60.  The young survivors are called Starters and the older people are called Enders.  Unless children come from a wealthy family where grandparents can take care of them, they are pretty much left to survive on the streets.  Such is the case of teenager Callie, who tries to take care of a sick younger brother as they squat wherever they can.

There is one way out of this dilemma and that is to go to a Body Bank, an institution run by Enders that allows other Enders to rent a young body for 30 days.  A device in implanted in the young person’s brain to receive signals from the older person’s brain so that they can walk around in the body. It gives these rich old people a chance to experience youth all over again, while it gives the young people the money necessary to get off the street.

Callie rents her body to Bank, but suddenly wakes up as herself, with her renter as a voice in her head.  The renter lets her know that there is something seriously wrong with the Body Bank and that the owner is trying to change the laws to favor the Bank by using a Senator.  Her goal had been to assassinate the senator and expose the Bank.  Although Callie fights against this initially, she becomes friends with the Senator’s grandson and discovers that the Body Bank has plans to not just rent young bodies any more, but to sell them without the Starter’s permission.

Although the story is okay, it becomes a bit predictable after a while.  The book probably should have been in development with an editor for considerably longer.  Although told in First Person, it is told in Past Tense and could have benefited from going to Present Tense, as all of the other successful YA Dystopian novels have done.

It’s entertaining, a quick read, and has spawned a sequel called Enders.

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