|Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads|
Author: Lissa Price
Publisher: Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
I love when I’ve passed over a book quite a few times, thinking it’s not going to be my cup of tea, only to finally give it a chance and find out that not only is it my kind of read, but it’s absolutely phenomenal and I need to scream about it from the rooftops. That is exactly what happened with Starters. If the publisher hadn’t sent me an ARC for review, I probably never would have read it, and I would have been missing out on a terrific debut.
I know dystopian novels are all the rage right now, and I have also jumped on that bandwagon. I’m always on the lookout for something new and different in this genre, though, and I found that in Starters. The story didn’t grip me from the first page, as it apparently did for some, but it didn’t take long for me to become enthralled. At around 50 pages in, I was hooked. I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to eat. I *almost* missed taking my daughter to see The Lorax because I was trying to finish the last 20 pages or so before we left. Seriously, my husband had his keys in hand and was headed to the door as I was closing the book, letting out that final sigh.
Every part of this novel was handled so well that I don’t know where to begin praising it. The concept, the writing, the dialogue…they were all really well done. I had no qualms giving this novel a full five stars. This book had everything I want in a good “this-is-what-the-world’s-come-to” story, and I’ve seen many touting it as this year’s Divergent. I suppose that’s a fair assessment, though the plots are very different. But as far as being books that keep you reading till all hours of the night, they are both very much in the same playing field.
For me, the premise of Starters really boils down to this one question: What WOULDN’T you do to protect your last remaining family member, your younger brother, the last life line to your past? That’s the dilemma Callie Woodland faces. After the Spore Wars took their parents and anyone else between the ages of twenty and sixty, all Callie and Tyler have is each other. They’ve managed to become allies with a “friendly” named Michael who lived down the street from them before the war, but Callie knows that the only person she can expect to better their situation is herself. Callie is afraid to become a renter for Prime Destinations, but after the only home she had left is taken from her, she doesn’t really have any other choice. But even when things seem the most dire, they can always get worse.
And as is always the case, things are never what they seem. Callie believes some rich old Ender woman will be gallivanting around L.A. in her body, but she really doesn’t have a clue what’s about to transpire now that she’s lent her body to Prime Destinations. The evil behind this company knows no bounds. The Old Man is secretive and keeps his identity a mystery, but despite his calm and composed demeanor, he is one of the most awesomely creepy villains I’ve met in a book. Through many twists and turns in Callie’s story, we find that he has much more at stake in Callie’s welfare than even the employees of Prime are aware.
The other relationships in Starters were all well-addressed, though at times it may have seemed like they went from one extreme to another. Give them a chance, though. I’m not a fan of insta-love, but having practically inhaled this novel, I promise you that things will make more sense by the end. Sort of.
So much happens in the span of this novel, but even so, I don’t think we are anywhere close to finding out the mysteries of the Old Man and Prime Destinations. The ending of Starters is proof enough of that. There are cliffhangers and then there are “Holy geez! WHAT THE WHAT?!?” endings like the one in Starters. I read it three times over, and I’m still not convinced I know what’s going on.
You’ll forgive me if this review doesn’t come off as polished as others. I read through this novel so quickly, and was so engrossed in the story, that I failed to take any notes. That’s a sign of how much I enjoyed this book, but it also means I may have missed evaluating some of the nuances and more important details that might strike someone else’s fancy. Even so, I heartily recommend this novel to fans of Divergent, Blood Red Road, and yes, The Hunger Games.