Callie Woodland* and her brother, Tyler, are orphans - their parents were killed in the Spore Wars and they've been surviving on their own ever since. The Spore Wars actually killed off everyone between the ages of 20 and 60, and as a result, those over 60 have disenfranchised those under 20 of much of their rights: they can't hold a job or vote, for instance.
With no legal means of making money and no adult to claim them, Callie is desperate, especially since her brother is ill and in need of care. So she decides to sign on with Prime Destinations, a company that allows "Enders" (those over 60) to take over the bodies of "Starters" (those under 20) for a brief period of time. It allows the Enders to experience what it's like to be youthful again and nets the Starters a significant amount of money.
Unfortunately for Callie, the procedure goes awry. She wakes up before the Ender who rented her body has relinquished it, but if she goes back to Prime Destinations and tells them, she won't get paid. Callie isn't even in complete control of her body at this point - she'll black out again and then wake up in another place, knowing the Ender had re-taken control for that period of time. What's more, she fears that the Ender has something dangerous in mind for her body, and Callie is determined to prevent it from happening.
Starters is such a fun read. It's one of those books that you set down after reading the last page and say to yourself "Whew!" It's a finish-in-one-sitting, don't-want-to-put-it-down read, with bountiful secrets and breathless revelations. Basically what I'm saying is that Starters is a page-turner of the highest order.
Unlike some fast-paced, plot-driven books, Starters doesn't feel thin or hastily put together. There's some character development, one or two subplots, and at least some semblance of world-building (although that is probably its weakest part - more on this later). It's unpredictable, twisty, and superbly written in that way that makes you completely fall into the story without surfacing until you realize you should probably eat sometime that day.
I always used to consider myself a stickler for world-building that makes sense in all aspects, but more and more I'm realizing that it's not as important to me as long as the writer sells it with conviction. Delirium has, arguably, one of the most ridiculous premises I've ever encountered, but I quite enjoyed it despite that. Starters is a little more believable, but there were still a couple points that irritated me:
1. The Spore Wars killed off everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 because they weren't given the vaccine, but it's impossible to believe that no one in this age range had access to it, legally or otherwise. The Spore Wars and the illness they caused are sketchy at best, so don't go into this expecting any explanation.
2. Everyone over 60 is called an "Ender," even though people at this point in time routinely live to 200 years of age or more. When not even half your life is finished, I don't think you can really be called an "ender."
Plot has always been my main reading love, and Starters has one of the best. It's backed up by solid writing and an expert sense of timing. Starters is ideal for all readers who enjoy fast-paced, plot-driven, mind-bending reads, and especially for fans of Divergent.
(Do you like the cover? I don't have anything against the shininess, but the image of Callie is really off-putting to me.)
*If I were this book's editor, I would have asked Price to change her name to something a little less similar to "Caddie Woodlawn," which I must have said in my mind a dozen times.
Review copy received from the publisher. Starters is available now.