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Monday, March 26, 2012

"Starters" by Lissa Price ~ YA/Adult Post-Apocalyptic Novel Cross-over

A highly imaginative novel about children left in a post-apocalyptic world with aged adults who want their bodies!

Published by:  Random House Children's
Pages:  352
Author's website: http://www.lissaprice.com/

Summary :
By: Kirkus Reviews
In a future in which the elderly hold all of the power, the only things left for them to take are the bodies of the young. After a germ-warfare attack, America was only able to vaccinate high-risk groups--medically vulnerable children and senior citizens--in time, creating an age gulf and an orphaned generation. Those without guardians, like Callie and her baby brother, scavenge and sneak to survive, lest marshals catch and throw them in institutions much like prisons. Desperation leads Callie to Prime Destinations, a body-bank that circumvents laws that prohibit minors from working by allowing them to donate their bodies (to be controlled by an elderly renter through neurochips and a brain-to-computer connection) for a stipend. Only one rental away from having the money to care for her ailing brother, Callie finds her chip drastically malfunctioning during a rental, enabling her to take partial control of her body back from a renter who plans on using her for murder. In between living the high life as a socialite grandniece and ward of her wealthy renter, Callie learns of plots more dangerous than the renter's and that only she can stop them. Some exposition is clumsily dropped in through dialogue, and some plot aspects don't hold up to scrutiny, but the twists and turns come so fast that readers will stay hooked. Constantly rising stakes keep this debut intense. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Where the Dame's Mind Went :
My mind went horrified as I thought of a world where senior citizens would turn on the young and use them for vehicles of personal gain.  Ugh!  What a jaded-eyed look at the elderly!!  This is a book that will scare the pants off everyone who reads it.  A world gone so desperate that the children left behind after a viral catastrophe wipes out their parents, are scuttling through the streets to survive like rats in broken down tenements and abandoned warehouses.  I couldn't stop being glued to the pages of the book. I took offense to being called away from it.  Horrified and hungry to know more!

The "haves" in this "have nots" world are the elderly over 60's who were able to receive a vaccine for the virus that wiped out the US because they were deemed most likely not to survive. Young people/children received the vaccine also, being considered too weak to survive. Since parents and middleagers died off, the wealthy elders that survived now have everything they want, except the beautiful, supple bodies they need to enjoy all the sports and activities of their past young lives.  Hence, they "rent" the bodies of teens through computer/science by the day, week and month.  The teen in question here, Callie, is caught in this web of transactions and terrors because she's desperate to keep her little brother alive.

Suspense and terror are built up masterfully by Lissa Price as she develops her world and her creepy elder-care characters.  Additionally, the young adult characters you'll come to love; Callie, her friend Michael, and Callie's 7 year old brother, Tyler tear at your heart while they struggle alone to cull out a way to survive in a hostile environment fraught with attacks such as military-like marshalls that seek out straggling children, and destroy tenement buildings in which they may be hiding.  When these squads burn out and block them from refuge in such a place, leaving Tyler without the only thing he has left of his before life; a toy and the picture of his mother and dad, I was really choked. 

Price knows how to bring out the emotions and cause us to champion these children.  Her ability to make us visualize is stellar.  Her ability to put terror in our hearts with the threat of an unknown is the sign of a very talented writer.  I was scared half the time! Price put me in the body of Callie!

I found this book engaging and suspenseful on a gut level.  I loved how the story developed, how Price used her characters to engender different emotions and careful messages; even warnings.  Not all of the elders were monsters, thankfully, and I liked that she made that evident from the start.  The concept of losing one's self to a mechanism/computer for a space and time seems plausible and; therefore, all the more frightening to me!  What a perfectly nightmarish theme! 

As a young adult novel, this book soars.  As a crossover into adult fiction; i.e., for lovers of YA fiction, I think it will be a satisfying and thought-provoking read.  Absolutely book group reading material; including mother/daughter book groups.  What the outcome of the novel is is neither here nor there, especially in light of the whole concept ... it should be enough to have you grabbing this one off the shelves!  Can't wait for Lissa Price's next book...

I had a great trip within the body of this book.  Please try it on for yourself!  And, for God's sake, get your flu shot!!

5 stars




Holy cow! That sounds like quite the page turner!


wowIve heard good things about this book, and now your reviews adds up to my anticipation! Great review Deb<3


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