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Starters    by Lissa Price order for
by Lissa Price
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

With all the YA dystopians out there, an author has to make bold choices to get a novel to stand out. Lissa Price does just that in Starters.

Over a year ago, the Spore Wars wiped out everyone in the US who was not inoculated against the deadly virus everyone aged twenty to sixty. Now two distinct populations remain: elderly Enders, who go about their lives as before, living up to the age of two hundred or so; and young Starters, who must either be claimed by an Ender or are forced to fend for themselves - being unclaimed is a crime. Callie is one of these unclaimed minors. With the help of her friend Michael, she takes care of her sickly younger brother Tyler, but the stress of constantly switching between abandoned buildings is getting to be too much.

With the hope of earning enough money to buy Tyler a permanent place to live, Callie enlists at Prime Destinations, a company that lets Enders rent Starters' bodies. Callie is supposed to be asleep during the rental, but after just a few days, she finds herself waking up in her own body and living her renter's life. Through a mind connection with her renter, Helena, Callie discovers that the teens who sign up at Prime Destinations are going missing and that Helena wants to take the organization down. As Callie starts to investigate, she learns of more beneath the surface than even Helena imagined.

The background of the Spore Wars is not unique, but what Price does with the surviving population is. Most dystopian worlds have no place for the elderly; in Starters, they rule it. But what is really different is the concept of renting a younger body and the fact that it is not a complete mind transfer. This innovation and the politics that arise around it make for one compelling read. Once Callie finds herself in Helena's life, the action never wanes, and the twist is ingenious.

Starters is a very fast-paced and fun dystopian. Lissa Price's unique concept leaves the reader wanting to know what happens. Luckily it's continued in an ebook series leading up to the conclusion, Enders.

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