Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.
He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined.
This may sound extremely ageist, but Starters has one of the creepiest premises I’ve heard in a while – old people or “Enders” renting out the bodies of young people, or “Starters.” While there are supposedly “rules” for these “rentals” it’s not like anyone is reeeally “keeping track of” or “punishing” these oldsters in young bodies, so you know there’s plenty of “old person ugly bumping” happening. Air quotes. Possibly with young people who don’t know that the person they’re having the relations with is actually old (which is similar to something that happens in an episode of the British show Misfits, which is an extremely awesome show you should consider watching if you haven’t already). Say it with me…eeeeeew. So yeah, the premise freaked me right out.
I found Starters to be very engrossing, but it was a very slow read for me for some reason. Not because it was boring or slow paced, I just didn’t get through it as quickly as I do ordinarily. Maybe because there was a lot to think about and keep straight? I dunno. I was definitely a little confused about why they were rounding up the street kids and taking them to institutions, which were basically prisons, so that’s something that I’m hoping to get a little more clarification on in the next book.
The Old Man is a super excellent villain. He gave me a bit of a Rorschach from Watchmen vibe. I don’t want to say why and ruin anything but those who are familiar with either the graphic novel or the movie might see the similarity. He was creepy in a lot of ways but there was one particular development that had me literally jaw-dropped and wigged out. Just…didn’t see it coming at all. And I’m glad, because if I had I would have questioned what on earth was wrong with me. Well played, Ms. Price. I was totally fooled. And Callie was a good protagonist – her desire to help her brother was admirable and for the most part she seemed like a smart girl.
I thought the book ended perfectly and I’m really looking forward to see where things go in Enders.