Derek's Reviews > Starters

Starters by Lissa Price
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M 50x66
's review
Nov 29, 2011

it was amazing
Read in October, 2011

When I read the chapter sampler of Starters, I was blown away. Starters is high concept, high octane. The voice of the main character (Callie) grabs you from the first sentence. Reading it reminded me of how I felt when I read Hunger Games: totally entranced and anxious for the next page and the next and the next. I know what all my reader friends are going to get for their birthdays next year. A copy of Starters.

Starters begins with a brilliant premise, which is that there are young people (starters) and old people (enders) and no one who is middle aged (they were wiped out in a war). The enders want to hold on to power and money. The starters are marginalized, exploited and forced to live hand to mouth like Dickensian orphans. But there is one thing that the starters have that the enders want but can't have: youth. Or can they? In Price's future Beverly Hills (where else?), a mysterious company called Prime Destinations lures starving, desperate starters into signing a "rental" contract. A willing starter receives a big payday, but only for the ultimate price. For a time, the ender gets to live inside the starter's mind and body. Unlike Ponce de Leon, enders have discovered their fountain of youth!

Despite distrusting Prime Destinations, Callie chooses to enter a contract. She has no idea who is "renting" her. She has no idea what will happen when she is unconscious. Frightening and riveting!

This beginning works on so many levels. The external conflict (survival) and the internal conflict (Callie's decision to be rented) are powerful. But what really makes Starters work is the philosophical conflict that echoes our own world. In our own world, the gap between the haves and have nots is increasing. The rich are finding new and more invidious ways of exploiting people who are impoverished. The decision Callie makes is out love for her younger, sickly brother. But it is also based on economic duress. For what she thinks is a limited time, she chooses virtual slavery and gives up her free will. Can she survive? What will happen? Most of us are like Callie, just struggling to survive and trying to hold on to the illusion of free will. Is it an illusion? Or is it reality? And if it is an illusion, do we have the power to change it?

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message 1: by W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

W. Yes, I can see the concept of free will as one of the themes that courses through the subtext of Starters like an underground river. But when I read this fantastic sampler by Ms. Price, I was struck by another theme -- destiny (which is a close cousin of free will).

To me, Callie was a Chosen One -- she was called to adventure by forces larger than herself. Yes, on a basic level she was motivated to engage in risky business out of love for her brother and the need for cold, hard cash. But the challenges that confronted her and the outcome of her heroic struggles were larger than her own personal motivations. Again, the stakes were raised by forces bigger than any teenaged street kid could ever have imagined.

The question is: Will Callie step out of her little world to embrace a larger destiny? And will she succeed in her hero's quest?

I can't wait to find out.

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