Friday, March 23, 2012

Starters (Starters, #1)



Starters (Starters, #1)Starters by Lissa Price

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

During the Spore Wars, genocide spores killed every person between twenty and sixty years of age, thus reducing the population to Starters and Enders, those who were once most vulnerable. Since Callie and her baby brother Tyler have no living grandparents or any other family older than sixty, they are now unclaimed and squatting in a ruined building, together with many others. The only way for an unclaimed teen to earn some money is to rent their body for a month or more to an Elder through a company named Prime Destinations. With a sick brother and no place to go, Callie is forced to do just that. But her renter isn’t just an old lady looking to have some fun in a young body. She is on a mission to destroy Prime Destinations and Callie has no choice but to get involved.


Based on the reviews I’ve read so far, most people had issues with Price’s worldbuilding. I didn’t. Wiping out the entire population between twenty and sixty is, admittedly, a bold move, but if an outbreak were to happen, something similar to the described Spore Wars, we probably would inoculate children and old people first. What I found harder to believe was that the society would so easily discard unclaimed minors (children with no grandparents or guardians). If all you had were old people and kids, you’d first ensure the survival of your species by taking care of those who can actually reproduce.


The process of renting out teenage bodies to old people reminded me a little of that horrible movie Surrogates with Bruce Willis and that blonde actress whose name I always forget. (It’s Radha Mitchell, I googled her. If you ask me in five minutes, I probably won’t be able to remember.) It took a while for me to think of the movie because, up until that point, I had been doing my damndest to forget I ever even saw it. It wasn’t until I remembered it that I realized that Price hasn’t given us enough information on what happens to Elders’ bodies while they’re renting a teen. I can believe that they would stay in a chair connected to tubes and wires and surrounded by nurses for a week, but how exactly would that work long term? When they started talking about a permanent arrangement, I got a mental image of an old, wrinkled body rotting and melting in a chair. I’ll probably need to wash my brain with soap… again.


However, I think Callie was the source of most of my problems with Starters. Everything she did, from going into Prime Destinations, renting her body for a limited time, to helping Helena fight the Old Man and the Senator, seemed entirely selfless. And yet I never believed her. It seemed awfully convenient that she would have a sick baby brother to take care of, thus making Prime Destinations her only viable option. Perhaps I’d have been more comfortable with that if Price chose to explore their relationship a little bit more. I simply wasn’t as emotionally invested as I should have been and I felt that first Michael, and later a complete stranger, were doing a much better job of taking care of Callie’s brother than Callie ever did.

Starters was focused more on the technical, and less on the emotional side of the story which rarely works for me. However, I have many friends who enjoyed this book. If you’re into dystopias with sci-fi elements, I say go for it. Despite the issues I’ve mentioned (which may not even be issues for some), Starters is a solidly written and action-packed novel that will surely have a lot of fans.



16 comments:

  1. Ooh Bruce Willis! I have to watch that he's one of my fav. actors so it's relaly possible I've seen it already. Actually I think I may have. Is it the one where everyone turns into robots basically!? I'm pretty sure!! Anyways. I really enjoyed this one but I really agree that it was not that emotional, more exciting which is partly why I liked it I wasn't looking for something deep I guess. I totally love this cover too in real life!

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  2. I definitely agree with many of your criticisms, I had the same problems with not enough explanation on how the old people's bodies could stay in stasis. I agree too about the discarding of the younger population, it usually isn't the way elderly people act. I liked Cali, but felt the love interests especially Michael lacked depth. I enjoyed that this was a fast, thought provoking read and the gotcha moments at the end were great.

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  3. Brilliant review, Maja. I'm glad the world-building worked for you and I hope I feel the same way. I have read a lot of mixed reviews for this but I'm hoping the sci-fi goodness will make up for any lack of emotional investment in the characters.

    I have 42 days to read it before my galley expires...I wonder how THAT will go. :P

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  4. I have been looking forward to the book, since I preordered Insurgent and decided to not pay for shipping I will be receiving this book in May (which doesn't bother me because my review list is off the charts for March and April) but reading your criticisms does bring to life questionable details that the author either left out on purpose to save for the second book or just never bothered to really explain. I think that she left that out to explain more in the second novel but that's just me. Anyway, hearing about a dull relationship between Cali and Michael seems to be a big thing with this novel and that saddens me to hear. I do not like when the love interest lacks depth :C Even so, I am still tempted to read it, seeing as I love sci-fi! Thank you for the wondeful review, Maja!

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  5. Hmmm I'm still unsure about this book, the blurb makes it sound so awesome, but the reviews have been all over the place, glad you enjoyed it though.

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  6. "Everything she did...seemed entirely selfless. And yet I never believed her."

    I know exactly what you mean by this. Though I haven't read Starters, I've run into this problem with other characters before. Selflessness is a fine attribute and all, but there is no entirely selfless person out there. Therefore (for me, at least), when a character's selflessness seems to good to be true, I find it incredibly difficult to connect with him or her. Even if a person's actions are mostly selfless, I'd bet my britches their thoughts aren't always so altruistic.

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  7. From all the reviews I've read, the world-building was the thing most people had trouble with too, so I'm glad that it wasn't that way for you! :) This book is really high up on my wish list! Even though this wasn't as much of a character/emotional book as the both of us like best, the whole sci-fi aspect and body-renting thing actually really intrigues me! It kind of reminds me of The Host by Stephanie Meyer is a strange (but awesome since I loved that book) kind of way! ;)

    And an old, wrinkled body rotting and melting in a chair? Not the best mental image to have! x)

    Amazing honest review as always, Maja! :) <3

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  8. I always love your reviews here--you have something thoughtful and insightful to say every time. I've been umming and ahhing about Starters because I love sci fi; I might put it on my library list. Although I have to be able to get behind the characters in everything I read...hmm.

    I read The Declaration by Gemma Malley recently. It's an older dystopia (2008) and it explores similar issues to Starters: abandoned kids, aging populations etc. It was quite amazing, and you guys might like it.

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  9. You know, the premise sounds promising but if I can't connect emotionally to a story than it's over for me. I don't care so much about the technical side or even world building if I'm connected to the characters. I'm going to pass on this for now.

    On a side note, I clicked over and bought Wander Dust. So when I get a couple of books out of the way I'm going to read that. :)

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  10. Awesome review like always, Maja! Honest and full of details. Your reviews always make me intrigued to check out the book! <3

    This book has a really good premise, but I can see that this book has some problems. Since their population is pretty low, I can't understand why they don't put poor kids in their priority either. Human survival is what matters most, right? My favorite thing about Dystopian is its world building, so I think I'll have same issues like you. Plus, I tend to prefer books that have emotional depth.

    I don't see myself picking this book soon. Maybe I need to read more 5 stars review on this! xD

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  11. I've heard really great things about this book. I'm sorry it fell flat for you, Maja. :( This book doesn't sound like it's for me, so I wouldn't have picked it up anyway, but characters that I don't feel emotionally invested in, I don't like. However, I'm happy to hear that the world building was impressive! Lovely and honest review, Maja. :)

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  12. I just got the first chapter for this at the Hunger Games midnight showing. Haven't gotten around to reading it yet but this makes me hesitant.. Will probably decide if the first chapter seems interesting enough. Great review though!

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  13. Great review, Maja! I completely agree with all of it. There were just so many credibility issues with this book, which is sad because it has a great premise. Your review made me laugh about it though :)

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  14. That wondering about the body thing was my exact problem with Inception. I mean, sometimes there was no one watching over their bodies--how were they getting nourishment? Going to the bathroom? THESE ARE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS PEOPLE!! :) I also saw the author the other day and she said she based Callie's name on a mixture of Katniss and Tally from the Uglies series. It felt a little unoriginal to do that. If you gave it 3, we'll see how I feel...

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  15. I very much so trust your opinion on the books you read and the fact that you didn't enjoy this all that much...leads me to believe that I probably want. So I'm just going to tuck this away in the recesses of my mind and continue on my merry way. Thanks for the great review Maja!

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  16. Same problem here! I read this and while the concept was indeed interesting, it didn't work for me. But I still see myself picking up the next installment in this series, I'm just really curious how Price can continue Callie's adventure and the threat of the evil Old Man. Great review, Maja! :)

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