After losing her parents in the devastating Spore War that killed everyone amid the ages of twenty and sixty, Callie and her sick little brother, Tyler, are forced to live on the streets as unclaimed minors, scrounging for food and fighting off renegades with the help of their friend, Michael.
After struggling to keep Tyler alive with his rare lung disease for nearly two years, Callie agrees to work for an organization called Prime Destinations, where she is promised a great affluence of money, medication, and a home subsequent to her service. However, she soon learns how corrupt Prime Destinations’ intentions really are; they hire donors, poor Starters with no relations, to rent out their bodies to Enders, who then seize control of their brain and bodily functions and get to enjoy the thrill of being young again. But when something goes wrong at Prime Headquarters, Callie must fiddle with fate and soon discovers who she can trust: absolutely no one.
Starters by Lissa Price is an absolute page-turner that will hold you in suspense until the very end. I was admittedly surprised many times throughout the whole story, especially at the end. Although the war is scarcely described, the history of the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles setting is well explained in a conversation about a quarter through the novel, up until which I was extremely confused. The characters are exemplary, and I felt I could relate to them well. I liked the brother-sister relationship between Callie and Tyler; he is hopeful and believes in her to keep them both alive. Callie does have a potential love interest, but the romance in this book is suppressed and doesn’t overpower the principal storyline.
Starters is a positively sensational and suspenseful novel, and I think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers; I especially recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Divergent by Veronica Roth, due to its futuristic world-building and strong female protagonist.
-Danielle K., 7th grade