Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Starters by Lissa Price (NY: Delacorte Press, 2012).  Reviewed from digital ARC provided by publisher via netgalley.com.

Callie Woodland, her little brother Tyler, and their friend and former neighbor Michael are barely managing on their own.  They are Starters--anyone twenty or younger--who survived the Spore War because the government opted to inoculate only the young and the old, leaving a lot of kids with no living relatives when the war ended. Callie desperately needs money to help Tyler get medical attention, so she decides to investigate Prime Destinations, a company that implants chips in the brains of Starters so Enders (the seniors who were also inoculated and survived the war) can rent young bodies. The first two rentals go well, but the third one gets tricky when the renter, Helena, gets the chip altered so she can communicate with Callie and then tries to enlist Callie's help investigating the disappearance of her granddaughter--a  situation that may call for desperate measures, even murder!  Meanwhile Callie finds herself involved romantically with Blake, the grandson of a senator who is at the center of a possible power grab.  But Blake seems to change every time Callie sees him, and the altered chip may be communicating in ways Helena and Callie hadn't foreseen....

Set in a post-war dystopic future, Starters is a riveting read with engaging characters involved in a fascinating plot. The huge divide between kids who having nothing because they had no older relatives who were inoculated and those who have everything because they had wealthy older relatives subtly critiques the current widening gap between the rich and poor, though mainly it serves to illustrate the huge difference between the hardships Callie, Tyler, Michael and other orphans suffer and the opulent lifestyle of those more fortunate, like Blake. The deviousness of Prime Destinations' manipulation of desperate children plus the possible government conspiracy to use Starters strikes a one-two punch at both corporate greed and political power broking. Lots of actions and some excellent twists at the end make Starters the page-turning dystopia no one should miss in 2012!  Highly recommended for ages 12 & up.  Violence, mild sexual situations, alcohol.

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