Your body. Rented out. Used to murder.
Imagine being old—and wealthy enough to mentally inhabit the body of a young, healthy, attractive teen.
Imagine being a teen—down and out, scouring the city for empty buildings where you can live for free. You have little food; you are on the run from the authorities; and your only option for earning money is to give up the use of your body to old people who have the money and want a second shot at being young.
This is the America in which debut author Lissa Price’s newly released Starters takes place.
Callie is a Starter, one of the young who survived the biological weapon attack of the Pac Rim sea battles. The young and the old were vaccinated against the airborne disease. The middle-aged were supposed to be strong enough to fight off the disease, but it proved too strong. As a result, the demographics of America quickly shifted. There were Starters–children and teens, many of whom were left parentless; and they were greatly outnumbered by Enders—the older generation who, through new science, could easily live to be 200.
Callie, whose parents are among the dead, realizes that in her dire circumstances she will not be able to care for the sick brother. Against her better judgment, she goes to Prime Destinations and agrees to rent her body to an Ender. She goes through an extreme beautification process (reminiscent of Katniss being prepared for the pre-Hunger Games showing) and soon finds herself in a nightclub. Of course, she isn’t supposed to be aware of any of this. The computer chip they implanted malfunctions: she is supposed to be mentally sleeping away back at Prime Destinations (AKA the Body Bank) while her body is being inhabited by an Ender’s brain.
While dealing with her new reality and identity, she becomes aware of multiple nefarious plots—ones that affect her kind in general, and one that affects her specifically.
In this thriller, Price leads us deftly through the twists and turns of this brave new world. While Hunger Games frightened me with its power hungry government that exerted total control, Starters is frightening on a more technological level. Biological weapons are out there; deadly diseases could result in disastrous casualties. And it is not too much of a stretch to believe that we are nearly capable of this kind of body swap. It was easy to put myself in Callie’s shoes.
Though it felt like there were some possible plot holes, the end of the book cleared up most of them. And with juicy, cringe-worthy plot twists at the end, Price has me anxious for the second and final installment, Enders, due out at the end of the year.
(As a side note, I also like that that this is a two-book series instead of a trilogy. Does that make it a bilogy?)
For a great interview with Lissa Price, check out Beth Revis’ post today on the blog League of Extraordinary Writers.