Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Starters #1


Rate this book
“A bona fide page-turner.” —MTV.com
“A smart, swift, inventive, altogether gripping story.” —DEAN KOONTZ

This edition includes Portrait of a Spore, a never-before-published short story that takes place in the world of STARTERS!

You can’t get them out of your head.

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.

Callie soon discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than she could ever have imagined.

384 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 2012

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lissa Price

13 books1,653 followers
Lissa Price’s debut novel STARTERS is an award-winning, international bestseller published in over thirty countries. Dean Koontz called this YA futuristic thriller “a smart, swift, inventive, altogether gripping story.” The LA Times said it is “Dystopian science-fiction at its best,” and “Readers who have been waiting for a worthy successor to ‘The Hunger Games’ will find it here.”

STARTERS was a Barnes & Noble pick of the month and one of only four debuts on the B&N Best Teen Books of 2012. It was awarded the its Eselsohr for Best YA Book in 2012, selected by a jury of teens in Germany, and was chosen as a top ten favorite book of 2012 by both French and German readers. It won the Crimezone Award for Best YA Thriller and is one of the LAPL's and Chicago Public Library's Best Teen Books of 2012.

Starters was chosen for the IRA Reading List and is the only book nominated for both the Florida Teens Read List and the SSYRA Middle School List 2013-14.

In Germany, Starters launched a brand-new YA imprint of the established Piper Verlag publisher called IVI. Audiobooks have been recorded in English and German.

See the book trailer that played in front of the Hunger Games film in selected theaters in the US and abroad at her site. The release dates for Enders will be announced by the publishers of each country, with some starting in May 2013.

If you want to contact Lissa, please do it through her website, fb, twitter or tumblr and not here. She's happy to email you back if you reach out to her that way. She thanks everyone for their support!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
13,448 (31%)
4 stars
15,915 (36%)
3 stars
10,156 (23%)
2 stars
2,754 (6%)
1 star
875 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,472 reviews
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews288 followers
March 16, 2012
These days it is hard to write a dystopian YA and have it stand out. Starters did not have that problem; it was impressive from start to finish.

In the first few pages, we are immersed in the dangerous world where Callie, the protagonist of the book, lives. There has been a horrible war where the US has fell victim to a terrible biological attack, where only the elderly and young have been vaccinated. Unsurprisingly, this leaves the young to fend for themselves. Callie is forced to make some tough decisions when an offer to rent her young body to an elderly person for a short time comes across the table. This money could save her little brother's life.

There are countless strengths of this novel. The key, however, is Callie. She is a terrific main character; she is strong, resourceful, intelligent and brave... but at the same time believable and utterly likeable. She will do anything to take care of her little brother. Also, this novel begins in the middle-- right in the center of the action and never lets up all the way through. I blazed through this book and couldn't put it down. The starkness and clarity of the prose really came through; it was crisply written. I loved each of the twists and did not even predict the biggest one. It's hard to do that with a seasoned YA veteran reader. Furthermore, the other characters were well developed. Probably my other favorite character was Madison- I'll leave the reader to discover her. She was an utter gem. The world that Lissa Price builds is terrible but very believable; while not entirely unique (which is pretty impossible at this point), she gave a brand-new spin in her creation of this dystopian society.

And the Old Man. There are several mysteries that I have still lingering in my mind and that will haunt me until December.

Overall, a smashing debut in a genre that is very difficult to break into. This book is in the top 5 books that I have read in the past year, and one that I believe earns its place along with Pandemonium and Divergent. Lissa Price will be one to watch.
Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews370 followers
February 27, 2012
corrected for spelling error (that was nicely pointed out to me... thank you!!)

I had issues with this book. Sometimes I can get into the story, the characters, and overlook the issues with the world building. This was not one of them. I tried. I really did. But yes, it is another review full of ???????


Why was there a war?

What kind of spores were put in the missiles?

What kind of missiles were used? It couldn’t be one with an explosive head since spores are vulnerable to heat and explosion. Must of been some type of cruise missile that slowly, over a pre-determined distance, had some type of release mechanism. Why not give us any info on this?

Why did Mexico build the wall?


Vaccines were given to the most vulnerable population which was determined to be less than 20 or older than 60. However, the population in this book (before the war) lived, on average, to the age of 150 (in some instances up to age 200). Age 60 would be comparable to our age 30. In other words, age 60 is NOT a vulnerable age aka Elderly when you can live to 150. Why make 60 the marker for the vaccine, why not 150?

Why make the surviving “below 20” age group slave labor when allegedly there are so many elders that need jobs (remember the Senior Employment Protection Act). Isn’t that taking away jobs from the elders?


Why did Callie assume her dad was dead?

Why would the way over-protective Callie leave her brother with an almost complete stranger once Michael was gone? Wasn’t this all about her brother and NOT fighting evil (aka Prime Destination)

Callie....”If she had a black eye or a broken nose, then maybe the body bank people wouldn’t pick her”. I thought the body bank could immediately heal wounds, scars, pimples, any type of perfections? Wasn’t the flawlessness of donors the way people like the Senator identified donors? Why would Callie try to create imperfections on potential donors knowing they can be fixed immediately?

Why in the world would a girl, just meeting a guy for the first time, trust him to deliver money to an abandoned warehouse? And why would Blake ever go to an abandoned warehouse after just meeting Callie?

Why would Callie’s brother have a “rare lung disease” while people can be fixed, and healed enough to live to 200?


I had a super difficult time writing this review just because I really didn’t enjoy the story. It had so many holes that I spent half my time waiting for answers rather than caring what was happening to the main character.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
February 5, 2012
2.5 stars

The description of Starters immediately snagged my attention: teenage donor bodies, elderly renters, a vaguely sinister business commercialising on desperation, poverty and the allure of eternal youth for hire.

I think it’s a strong idea and ripe for ethical discussion, in this case examined through the lens of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world where the fallout from biological (I assume) warfare has rendered life precious, and youth a commodity. The balance of power has been drastically shifted by removing an enormous segment of the population, and the divide between poverty and wealth is vast and unbridged.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say that Starters delivered on my high expectations.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Callie, fending for herself and her younger brother on the streets, who against her better judgement accepts a contract with Prime Destinations to rent out her body, in order for the rich and old to briefly experience virtual youth. What seems to be a painless means to money and security for herself and her brother goes awry when Callie wakes up in her renter’s life – and discovers that not all at Prime Destinations is what is seems.

I think I wanted a more nuanced and thought-provoking look at the premise of body-rental, physical "perfection" and the ramifications thereof, when what was actually on offer was more of a mystery/action-movie in book form. And that’s not a bad thing, especially when the story kicks into high gear during the final 20% or so. The plot begins to twist, the pacing is genuinely gripping, and Price throws some good curveballs.

The lead up, however, lacked punch for me, and was riddled with plot weaknesses. This is another case of an extremely improbable scenario (everyone between 20 and 60 falls victim to the “Spore Wars”) as a backdrop to a murder plot, a chance for the heroine to experience life on the other side and drive fast cars, and muse on her various romantic entanglements. While I actually really quite enjoyed the final section of the book, so much of the mid section just seemed a bit ridiculous and flimsy.

My main issue with Starters, however, is that the fact that too many problems and solutions in the plot feel convenient. There are too many plot devices that seem like exceptions and technicalities for me to buy into them. Characters “just happen” to have [insert skill, object or motivation] or “just happen” to know [insert information] and just happen to be [insert right place, right time] and it feels forced, not fluid.

The main villain in Starters is sufficiently interesting and creepy. Additionally, Starters packs some ambiguity in it’s ending which makes the sequel quite enticing. However, the characterisation fell a little flat for me – I didn’t feel much of an investment in any of them – so I think the appeal of this book hinges directly on the plot.

In summary – some great ideas, a really strong ending, but a set up that takes some buying into and relies on some all too familiar tropes.

An advance review copy was provided by the publishers via NetGalley
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
June 3, 2012
A list of things I would do if I were in some­one else’s body:

*Moon nun­ner­ies
*Spend a day doing nekkid per­for­mance art in ille­gal locales
*Yell at peo­ple ran­domly that they can’t han­dle the truth
*Trick var­i­ous peo­ple into skinny dip­ping with peo­ple and then steal their clothes.
*Ran­domly strip on trams and use the pole to dance

A list of things old peo­ple would appar­ently do in my body:

*Bungee Jumping

If any­thing is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the gen­er­a­tion gap – I think that is.

Girl showing father technology
See Dad, first I mooned the nuns while a friend took pic­tures. Then we uploaded the photo to fif­teen dif­fer­ent social media sites. Then we pho­to­shopped their faces to meme rage faces, loaded it to our blog, mon­e­tized it and made a for­tune from all the clicks. Now I’ll show you how I paid my own col­lege fund by reply­ing to pop­u­lar youtube videos and turned a Repub­li­can candidate’s name into a euphemism for some­thing you’ll ground me for describ­ing. This is how we have fun!

This is not a bad novel – but nor is it a per­fect one.

Price has strengths, which make this book an enjoy­able read, but she also has marked weak­nesses. It is those weak­nesses, unchecked, that ruin an oth­er­wise enjoy­able tale.

The story, a futur­is­tic dystopian Body Snatch­ers of sorts, is a fast paced, thrilling read. It has a great cast of char­ac­ters, an inter­est­ing story-line, and a tight plot.

Price’s strengths lean toward the adrenaline-pumping action, the intrigu­ing plot side of things. Where the novel falls apart is all related to the rela­tion­ships and how her char­ac­ters interact.

I’m quite sure Michael plays some piv­otal role in a future book – but for this book he felt entirely unnec­es­sary and his rela­tion­ship with Car­lie felt base­less and meaningless.

Sim­i­larly, Blake’s reac­tions and rela­tion­ship with Car­lie felt forced, inau­then­tic and com­pletely unbe­liev­able. What­ever spark Price wanted us to feel, just wasn’t there for me.

Per­haps the biggest fac­tor that crip­pled the novel for me was in the M. Night Shya­malan like story telling. Every­thing was a twist!

M. Night Shyamalan

When your vil­lain is always one step ahead, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing and exhil­a­rat­ing. When your vil­lain is 2,568 steps ahead, it starts to look a lit­tle com­i­cal and super vil­lainy with twisty mus­tache included. Or like the author is giv­ing him inhu­man pow­ers of fore­sight to act as a deus ex machina.

I really, really wanted to like this novel. Despite the low rat­ing, I would be inter­ested in read­ing the sequel to see where Price takes some of the themes and sto­ry­lines and to see if she improves on the weaker ele­ments of her writing.

Until then I’ll be over here plank­ing, splank­ing and plankouring.

My gen­er­a­tion makes no sense. Planks can’t parkour!
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
March 6, 2012
First I have to say how surprised I was to see this cover in real life. It's such a reflective shiny silver/white that you can see yourself in it. I mean look at it -I love it!

Inside this flashy cover, Lissa Price has written a fun, original dystopian that reminded me a bit of The Host (one of my favorite books ever), and even though the world itself could use more details, the story is highly entertaining.

After a war that only left children and seniors alive, Callie, orphaned, has decided to donate her body for a few weeks so she can get enough money to save her brother. As you can guess, things go wrong, and Callie ends up living someone else's life. This premise enticed me the second I started reading, in addition to its fast pace that turns it highly addictive. Every chapter ends with such intrigue that you just. Can't. Stop. It's also full of suspense, as you never know when Callie will lose her body to her renter again, for how long, and worst of all - what she will be doing with it. One thing I would have liked, would be to have gotten more background details on the world itself; how exactly it managed to get to this point. As well as a bigger picture on the current civilization - or lack thereof. The story is so engaging, though, that I only cared about these sketchy details after the fact. My advice - just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Callie's voice captivated me from the start. She's tough and everything she's doing is for her brother. It's easy to ache for the loss of their world- being thrown from a normal loving family, a great comfortable life, into this unfortunate dystopian future. I loved how Callie handled herself in situations; always thinking on her feet but staying smart. I really had no problems connecting with her. The story mainly focuses on her, but there are a few interesting side characters to fill in the space that I'm hoping to get to know better in the upcoming books. There is also no big love story in this novel, however we still get to enjoy a fun romance that is sure to catch everyone's attention. Especially with the fascinating twists that I never saw coming.

The twists- they're plentiful. The secrets- even moreso. There is not a page in this book that didn't have me pining for answers: Trying to figure out what exactly was happening; what these people really have planned; and the most intriguing - who is this Old Man? The man who's face NO one ever saw. Who seems to be involved with everything, and everyone. The man who knows all the tricks, and he's not afraid to use them! At last, the book ends with a bang!

Combining mystery and excitement, Starters is a vacation from reality that will leave you captivated through to the end. With the amount I've read, I'm surprised how dystopians keep being so interesting as well as original. Starters is definitely on my list of recommended, and I hope it makes it on yours too!

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Sandra.
378 reviews16 followers
September 3, 2015
I usually hate being wrong about a book, but right now, I'm ecstatic. Given the dystopia-craze surrounding us, I was afraid this book wouldn't live up to my expectations, so I lowered them. But after reading just a few pages, I knew I would absolutely love Starters.

In a genre that has become so popular in the last couple of years, it's only natural that some topics and tropes will be recycled and "transformed", but in the end we have the same of everything.

In my opinion, Starters kicks its fellow dystopian books in the butt because it's a refreshing take on the genre. With an original concept, excellent world-building and multidimensional characters, I was instantly caught up in its world.

Plot-wise, it blew my mind. Lissa Price created an interesting, undesirable future that's actually feasible. She interweaves history and science fiction into her world and achieves a wonderful result, making the readers aware of certain details while keeping us on edge.

Callie, the main character, is strong, determined, brave and smart and I enjoyed reading from her POV. She struggled with her situation, her emotions and the discoveries she made.

AND yes. There's a hint of a love-triangle, but not quite. I honestly don't know how to properly describe the relationships in this book but let me assure you that this is not a conventional love-triangle... I won't spoil it for you, but Lissa Price delivers a huge, shocking plot-twist that changes everything and it made it more intriguing.

The story ends with a cliffhanger and it's actually kind of cruel that we have to wait SO long to know what happens next with Callie and company.

If you're a fan of the dystopia genre and are looking for a compelling, original and action-packed read, Lissa Price's impressive debut is the book for you. Go pick it up ASAP!
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews200 followers
September 26, 2020
Well that was a pleasant surprise!

A very cool premise where elderly people can rent the bodies of younger people to relive their glory days. Although it wasn't 'on the edge of your seat' gripping I was never bored. I even had a few moments where I made admiring 'ooooo' sounds when something quite interesting happened. I won't lie, it was predictable but that doesn't always equate to boring. The sci-fi concept of transferring people's consciousness to another body is brilliant and lends itself well to having corrupt people and corporations exploiting desperate people. I have borrowed the second audiobook already and look forward to seeing where the author takes this story next.
Profile Image for Jennifer Rinehart.
Author 1 book13 followers
April 24, 2012
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to harsh on a book you don't like than it is to write something nice about one you love?

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. I'm a third of the way through and so far, I love it! Have to get back and finish it.

I'm done and feeling a bit deflated. This book was so good, so exciting, so fun, that once I started turning the pages of the last few chapters I made myself slow down, I tried to really savor each moment, but there was so much going on and the ending was such a surprise that I read the last line with shock and disbelief, bummed it was over so soon and happy that the ending wasn't what I thought it would be (I love a surprise).

First off, I'm a sucker for quick starts. This book starts with a bang as Callie enters the posh, beautiful lobby of Prime Destinations to find out how much money she can get for renting her body. Yep, I did just say 'renting her body.' Callie's parents are dead and her little brother is ill, partly from living in such poor conditions with a lack of adequate food and water and she finds out from Prime destinations that just one month of her life could change their lives forever. Enough money for good food and a warm, dry and clean place to live. Enough money to move away from the street gangs. For Callie, there isn't much of a choice, rent her body or starvation.

But the trade off, letting some old lady use her body, well, it's not only terrifying but completely repulsive.

Now, I'm not going to summarize anything else about the story. To say that everything doesn't turn out the way Callie expected is an understatement. Her rental turns everything Callie knows about the world upside down and her life goes from hard, brutal and dangerous to downright hellish. But it's the way Callie reacts to the dangers that kept me up way past my bedtime. Callie is brave, but not foolish, she does what has to be done even when it is terrifying.

The evil characters in this book are beyond greedy and selfish, they truly do not see Callie or other young orphans in similar circumstances as less than human. They are merely tools to be used to achieve their evil ends. Coming face to face with this kind of character was a bit jarring in a teen book, but softening it would have come off weird.

Profile Image for A..
338 reviews48 followers
September 19, 2022
Las malas lenguas dicen que si después de cierta edad uno se despierta y no le duele nada…probablemente esté muerto. Gracioso. Sin embargo ¿Qué pasaría si pudiéramos tener un cuerpo joven otra vez? No el nuestro. El de otra persona. Digamos el cuerpo de un/a vital y saludable adolescente que nos lo alquilara durante unos días ¿Es una idea inquietantemente brillante u horriblemente espantosa? Jajaja…mentirosos (Por favor, recuerden que hay que devolverlo en buenas condiciones) En un mundo donde sólo hubiera jóvenes huérfanos y ancianos…con ideas raras, quién dijo que las cosas serían fáciles.

Una historia original, una protagonista querible (aunque no muy alejada de la sacrificada y tenaz heroína "clásica") y una buena ejecución (principalmente en el último tercio) son los puntos altos de este libro. Los más bajos, el obligado plot twist y los desconcertantes “rellenos” absolutamente ineficaces, producto de la clara y primordial intención de continuar la historia en un segundo libro (”Enders”)..que, por supuesto, me gustaría leer.

3 estrellas y media para "Starters", un trabajo interesante.
Profile Image for John Dixon.
Author 4 books130 followers
April 6, 2012
What if you could rent your body -- basically go to sleep for a day or a week, while another person's consciousness "lived" inside of your body, skiing, skydiving, or skipping through fields -- for big, big bucks? No way, right? What a creepy thought...

Well, what if your parents were dead and your little brother was sick... really, really sick, and the only way to save him was go on into Prime Destinations and rent yourself out to a stranger?

That's the basic premise behind Lissa Price's fantastic YA thriller, STARTERS. In this excellently-drawn dystopia, there are only "starters" -- young people -- and "enders," very old people, some of whom have celebrated over two hundred birthdays. Why? When a recent war went biological, there was only enough serum to vaccinate the old and the young...

The book jumps straight into the thick of things, the first scene taking us straight to the uber-creepy Prime Destinations, where the likeable main character, Callie, is understandably skeeeeeeeved, talking to the old "enders", who, in there power and hunger and basic chilliness, come off as something like vampires. The writing is great without drawing attention to itself, and the story rolls along smoothly -- despite its excellent plotting, amazing twists, and an ending you'll never see coming.

STARTERS is a fantastic thrill ride sure to please both teens and adults, from readers who love action to readers who love mystery to readers who love mind-blowing creativity. This is a can't-miss read!
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,891 followers
March 23, 2012
During the Spore Wars, genocide spores killed every person between twenty and sixty years of age, thus reducing the population to Starters and Enders, those who were once most vulnerable. Since Callie and her baby brother Tyler have no living grandparents or any other family older than sixty, they are now unclaimed and squatting in a ruined building, together with many others. The only way for an unclaimed teen to earn some money is to rent their body for a month or more to an Elder through a company named Prime Destinations. With a sick brother and no place to go, Callie is forced to do just that. But her renter isn’t just an old lady looking to have some fun in a young body. She is on a mission to destroy Prime Destinations and Callie has no choice but to get involved.

Based on the reviews I’ve read so far, most people had issues with Price’s worldbuilding. I didn’t. Wiping out the entire population between twenty and sixty is, admittedly, a bold move, but if an outbreak were to happen, something similar to the described Spore Wars, we probably would inoculate children and old people first. What I found harder to believe was that the society would so easily discard unclaimed minors (children with no grandparents or guardians). If all you had were old people and kids, you’d first ensure the survival of your species by taking care of those who can actually reproduce.

The process of renting out teenage bodies to old people reminded me a little of that horrible movie Surrogates with Bruce Willis and that blonde actress whose name I always forget. (It’s Radha Mitchell, I googled her. If you ask me in five minutes, I probably won’t be able to remember.) It took a while for me to think of the movie because, up until that point, I had been doing my damndest to forget I ever even saw it. It wasn’t until I remembered it that I realized that Price hasn’t given us enough information on what happens to Elders’ bodies while they’re renting a teen. I can believe that they would stay in a chair connected to tubes and wires and surrounded by nurses for a week, but how exactly would that work long term? When they started talking about a permanent arrangement, I got a mental image of an old, wrinkled body rotting and melting in a chair. I’ll probably need to wash my brain with soap… again.

However, I think Callie was the source of most of my problems with Starters. Everything she did, from going into Prime Destinations, renting her body for a limited time, to helping Helena fight the Old Man and the Senator, seemed entirely selfless. And yet I never believed her. It seemed awfully convenient that she would have a sick baby brother to take care of, thus making Prime Destinations her only viable option. Perhaps I’d have been more comfortable with that if Price chose to explore their relationship a little bit more. I simply wasn’t as emotionally invested as I should have been and I felt that first Michael, and later a complete stranger, were doing a much better job of taking care of Callie’s brother than Callie ever did.

Starters was focused more on the technical, and less on the emotional side of the story which rarely works for me. However, I have many friends who enjoyed this book. If you’re into dystopias with sci-fi elements, I say go for it. Despite the issues I’ve mentioned (which may not even be issues for some), Starters is a solidly written and action-packed novel that will surely have a lot of fans.

Also posted at The Nocturnal Library
Profile Image for Thien Thanh.
20 reviews
January 15, 2013
July 7th

This book was... amazing! I haven't given 5 stars in quite some time. I loved how the author wrote the voices of the characters. I really liked that she wasn’t annoying and that she had something to fight for. But its’ really weird that she had to sell herself to an Ender. And that’s where the story begins. Callie and her brother live on the streets ever since the Spores wiped out every adult. The children and elderly were vaccinate, since they were the most vulnerable but ended up surviving because of that.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books267 followers
January 10, 2019
Una historia futurista que sin dudas nunca antes había imaginado es sin duda Starters.
La creatividad puede traer al papel este tipo de novelas que son bastante interesantes y entretenidas.
El mundo, su nueva forma de sobrevivir, las nuevas reglas, son cosas que te mantienen leyendo como loco.
Una historia nada convencional en un mundo aún más extraño y terrible, en el que pasar un día libre es un todo un desafío es la esencia principal de esta narrativa que no te deja soltarla hasta el final.
Profile Image for Suzanne Gates.
Author 1 book18 followers
November 28, 2011
I just read the chapter sampler and am completely engaged in the story. Actually, the first two or three lines in chapter 1 and I was hooked. The protagonist is a girl caught in a difficult situation and scrambling to save what family she has. She's doing it in a completely hostile world, with a few spectacular twists. What elevates this story is its take on the generation gap (and what a gap it is) and on the importance of staying compassionate in a world that has forgotten that children are our best hope for the future.

The story is a page-turner and I love that, of course, and I love the way I thought about complexities and issues, and continue to think about those issues, even though I've read just two chapters. I'm a teacher, and I can see this book being used in certain courses to discuss, for example, the long-range consequences of biological warfare, the differing perspectives of young people versus the very old, the consequences of forgetting what it's like to be young, how far one will go to attain beauty (or money), our changing views of family and of what one considers home, and the ultimate price we pay for technology.

I was reminded of My Fair Lady, of all things--the story of a dirty cockney girl who is cleaned up, taught, and manipulated by her mentor. The outcome in the musical is a love match, but in Starters the outcome is much darker. In my view, the best reason to read a dystopian novel is to see ourselves reflected in its contents, to be jolted out of "My Fair Lady" complacency, to be reminded that in our darkest hours we must be at our must humane (we certainly are at our most human during those times).

I was with my niece yesterday who of course was talking about the new Twilight movie, and I suffered the inanity of vampires. I imagined the discussions we will have after we both have read Starters, because I know when she reads this book she'll be like me: we'll have to keep talking about it, keep it alive, because this book will change us. It's a powerful story, and aren't these the ones we keep on our shelves?
Profile Image for Drew.
449 reviews505 followers
May 2, 2017
“First Sara, then Redmond. Who else was going to suffer because of me before this was over?”

3 1/2 stars

I've complained a lot about dystopian books, but I feel like my complaints are understandable. It's an overpopulated genre with most books riding off of The Hunger Games and eventually, they all start to sound the same. With each new dystopian novel, they feel more and more like copies of each other and really, can we just not have another special girl single handedly taking on an evil government whilst trying to sort out her feelings over two guys?

With Starters, though, I was surprised. Even though it's a dystopian, it felt fresh. It reminded me of The Hunger Games, but in a good way. It had the same crazy fast paced writing that makes you want to finish it in one sitting. It had a compelling plot and a desperation surrounding the main character, Callie. Stuck in a crazy future, Callie's life is constantly in danger and it just made each scene oh so very tense. I wanted her to survive.

Let me tell you about the world of Starters. In the future, deadly spores have infected everyone and the elderly and young are immediately given vaccines as they are the most fragile. For the middle aged, though, it's too late. They all die and so many parentless children are left to roam the streets.

Callie, her friend Michael, and little brother Tyler are squatters. Much like Katniss with Prim, Callie will do anything to save her brother, so she goes to Prime Destinations, a place where teens can "donate" their bodies to the rich elderly, who "rent" them for a period of time.

Callie is determined to go through with being a donor and receive a load of money, but something goes wrong. She wakes up in her own body, now stuck in the middle of someone else's life - the life of a wealthy woman. At first she feels a bit like Cinderella, a poor girl trying on beautiful dresses, going to parties, meeting cute boys, and eating delicious food… But then the dazzling life of the rich begins to fade as Callie uncovers dangerous secrets and a deadly plan.

This book checked off nearly everything I look for in a dystopian: a ton of action, a compelling plot, a vigorous page turning quality, and a likable, tough main character. Callie was so great. I loved how she cared so much about her brother and had a spunky, sassy attitude.

As soon as I stepped inside, another guard came over and waved a weapons detector over me. My alert device was supposed to pass this test.
“I have no weapons,” I said. “Other than my big mouth.”

I did have a couple problems with this book, hence the 1/2 star rating. It bugged me that there were hardly any details about the Spore Wars that wiped out the entire middle aged population. What exactly were these wars, how did they start, and how could every single person between the ages of children and seniors die? I also wasn't a fan of the romance between Callie and Blake, the grandson of a senator. I would rather they had stayed partners in crime than kissing buddies.

This book ended with a shocking twist that was perfect and a hint of a cliffhanger, enough to point to the sequel. It wasn't a life changing book, but I found it to be an enjoyable, good ol' fashioned dystopian.
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
March 11, 2012
Straight up, you can’t trust the elderly, this is an important life lesson I learned from Lissa Price’s exciting debut Starters. Like, I hate to compare books, but I feel like Starters might be 2012′s Divergent. The two books aren’t alike plot wise, but they both have that up all night quality. I mean, I read Starters mostly during the week and was ITCHING to get out of work so I could read more of it.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Fer.
190 reviews
July 10, 2020
Un minuto de silencio por lo que pudo ser y no fue.
Profile Image for Karen & Gerard.
Author 1 book25 followers
July 15, 2012
Starters by Lissa Price is really, really good! WOW! You will meet Callie, a young girl whose parents are dead, and her 7-yr.-old brother, Tyler, is very sick. Her only hope to get money is to rent her body out to old people to use. She really doesn't want to do it but gives in to help her brother. Everything goes fine at first, but then takes a turn for the worse! I devoured this book in just two days; kept those pages turning to see what would happen next. Can't wait for the second book to come out in December!
(Gerard's review)

Starters by Lissa Price takes place in the future but isn't too far out that it is unbelievable. After a war, people lived longer, 150 to 200 years old was common and Prime Destinations developed a way for old people to rent the body of a young person, usually a teen. I loved the idea of the old people getting a new body but keeping all their experience and knowledge. Callie decides to rent out her body for a big sum of money that would be enough to provide a home for her and her little brother who is also sickly. After three rentals, she'd get paid; however, the third rental didn't work quite right and she found herself in a terrible situation and is not sure who she can trust.

I enjoyed this book very much because of all the unexpected things that happen to Callie and the interesting concept. I thought it was a fun read and definitely recommend it!
(Karen's review 7/14/12)
1 review2 followers
July 9, 2012
Really looking forward to this book. Think it will be a real page turner!!
A Very Striking Book Cover!!
Update- Was not disappointed after having read this terrific novel. Kept me captivated from start to finish and was difficult to put down. Full of interesting twists and turns with a very surprising ending that has me highly anticipating Enders, the second book in the series. Definitely recommended!!
Profile Image for Kristoff.
47 reviews45 followers
April 23, 2017
Firstly, I don’t know how to begin this review. I’m not even sure if this review can justify this amazing story of Starters. Starters is a story you really don’t read every day. It is a story like no other. I certainly did not expect that this book left me no choice but to devour it entirely in just a minimum amount of time.

The world of Starters was almost perfectly written. It was very well thought out. Price was creative enough to ever think a future more challenging, more engaging, more bleak and definitely more spine-chilling than what I’d imagined it would be. I’ve read countless books that had the worst future ever thought. I thought dying in an arena full of murderers was worst. I thought being imprisoned in the darkest cell alone was worst. Then Lissa Price walked in and she just proved me wrong.

Callie’s character is one of the best that happened to this story. I totally loved her. I reckoned her for being a brave and strong heroine who never gives up just to protect her loved ones. She is a character that will stay in your mind long after you read this book. I had to admit that I did cry seeing the life Callie had together with her brother. She had no parents to rely on but thanks to Michael’s presence and care, who will soon be one of the guys that will contend for her love. Though, Michael’s character wasn’t given much attention because most of the romantic scenes were with Blake. And Blake is another character that would definitely make the girls go crazy.

I just have one issue on characters’ physical feature. They weren’t that defined. I was thinking that maybe Price was so caught up with the whole story that she hadn’t quite mapped it out. Still, I didn’t mind it for after all, Starters gave me an adventure worth reading.

Overall, I couldn’t believe that until now the scenes were still absolutely embedded into my system. Starters is definitely a riveting page-turner that had me squealing for Callie, crying for Callie, and telling her to run as fast as she could. This story was full of different unpredictable twists and tensions that you couldn’t imagine in real life.

Starters is an overwhelming, phenomenal book with unique blend of Dystopian and Science Fiction adding perfect amounts of mystery, suspense, mixed identities, and deceits that made the story more dramatic, more sinister, and more brilliant. This is the book that has it all. If only I could give Lissa Price a standing ovation, I’ll definitely do. Her debut novel just set the bar higher. I demand for the second novel now especially after I read the last three pages that left me hanging and wanting for more.

For fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, get Starters and get started now! It’s totally a jaw-dropping ride! I do promise you that this book will really make your heart pump up more blood than ever. You will never ever be disappointed by Starters! You don’t get to meet a book like this!

This review originally appears at Mr. Book Wonder.
Profile Image for Maiko.
10 reviews7 followers
March 26, 2012
I'm counting down the days until the official book release comes. I don't often read books for fun except for physical therapy textbooks or journal articles, or quality books like Harry Potter, but this one I wanted to see the rest of the book (I am so fortunate to get my hands on the chapter sampler). Right away on the first page, there were so many intriguing information that kept me turning the pages. People are living far longer than the current period. There is snazzy technology described throughout the story that made me go, "Wow, wish I could play around with those!" It's set in LA, which is where I live, so that makes me happy! And the stark contrast between Prime Destinations and where Callie lives. I felt the excitement / nervousness for Callie and her allies, because they desperately need help and protection. Callie's care for her brother Tyler, made me think about the "Graves of the Fireflies" -- an amazing film by Hayao Miyazaki, where the older brother desperately tries to take care of his little sister who became very ill during World War II. I really hope Tyler makes it!

Callie's physical transformation at Prime Destinations is amazing. I kept looking at the front cover, too, because the two different colors of her eyes are so intriguing. But more than what happens physically to Callie, I can't wait to find out how this young girl's emotions and psyche change with a life-changing experience she's about to go through. Like the Hunger Games series, this is a dystopian novel but I feel like it offers something even more. I'm already a HUGE fan!
1 review2 followers
November 29, 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?

Profile Image for Kimberly Sabatini.
Author 1 book374 followers
February 10, 2012
I was given the ARC of STARTERS at the New York SCBWI Conference and I can't tell you what a lucky break that was for me. I am so excited to have gotten an early peek at this debut novel. My only complaint? Now I have to wait, for what is going to seem like forever, until I can read ENDERS and find out what happens after all those cliff hangers? *growls at Lissa Price*

Why do I love this book? Starters has amazing characters, a very unique setting and a super exciting plot. But the best part is that all these wonderful components blend together seamlessly. I felt the very same way when I read CINDER by Marissa Meyer. These books have mastered the art of story telling--they are the complete package. STARTERS reeled me in from the very beginning and thoroughly captured my attention and emotions.

So, what's special about STARTERS? A lot--but one of my favorite things is Price's integration of the elderly into her novel. Below the surface of heart-thumping excitement, I found myself pondering some deep and interesting thoughts about Price's society and how it relates to our own. I love a story that has layers and depth. And I know I mentioned it earlier, but the CLIFF HANGERS are amazing!!! STARTERS is a complete and fulfilling book and it's teasers are not gratuitous--they are exciting and well thought out. Thank you!!!!

In my humble opinion, this book will be a well deserved success. And making it even sweeter, I love being able to support my fellow Apocalypsies and Lissa Price has just made my job so easy. Congrats, Lissa--I'm expecting great things from you and if you ever want to let me peek at ENDERS--I'm available. :o)
Profile Image for Odette Brethouwer.
1,396 reviews235 followers
May 15, 2016
What a great YA SciFi novel! I really like the idea of the story, and the book was very well-written. Will be reading Enders soon, realy curious to that!

I've read this in one day, a whole lazy Sunday. Lovely, this is what Sundays are supposed to be made of :)
Profile Image for Literary Ames.
828 reviews396 followers
February 26, 2012
Super strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.

Starters shines the spotlight on a section of society which is sometimes overlooked or given the least respect but which will in future be the most powerful: the old. One day there will be fewer young people to support the ever-increasing number of elderly citizens, and here we can see how things could change in their favour.

Starters are under 19 years of age, those just starting out in life and Enders are the elderly. The generations inbetween have all died after biological warfare prompted the vaccination of the vulnerable –the old and the young, leaving those in the middle to die prolonged and agonizing deaths.

From the technology available I would guess we’re about 50 years in the future in a post-war America. The reasons for the war aren’t given. All we know is that Pacific Rim countries were involved and that America used an EMP weapon on them and they retaliated with a biologically engineered disease –game, set, match.

The age gap creates a huge gulf between the Starters and Enders. Old legislation addressing the increasing aging population means anyone under 19 cannot work and the large numbers of unclaimed minors whose family have died are unable to legitimately provide for themselves. Orphanages are basically workhouses with inmates treated as prisoners; no one wants to end up there. Squatting and thieving is how most get by, dodging the child-catching Marshals whenever possible. Adoption or fostering seems non-existent. Enders don’t care about Starters unless they’re family. I find this surprising because many Enders would’ve lost children, relatives. Some may be the last members of their families. Hasn’t loneliness spurred any to seek adoption?

The story follows Callie, a Starter, who lost her parents to the war. She has no grandparents and is forced to care for her 7-year-old brother by herself with a little help from Michael, a boy who used to live down the street from her pre-war. They’re currently squatting in an abandoned building practically starving. She can’t bear to watch her sick brother lose any more weight so she visits the not so ethical or legal, Prime Destinations, a place which rents out the bodies of teenagers to Enders who pay large sums of money to feel young again. If she does this she’ll have enough cash to pay for a home and medical care for her brother for the next few years.

For obvious reasons Callie’s reluctant to do this but she has little choice. Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, Callie suddenly wakes up in a nightclub instead of the lab and finds out the renter of her body wishes to murder someone. Scared, she pretends she’s her renter to safeguard her payment and attempts to stop her renter from committing this crime which will no doubt lead to her own execution.

Along the way she encounters other renters taking full advantage of their new temporary bodies and think nothing of stealing the lives of the body’s original owners. They take the old adage ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ to heart. These privileged Enders are selfish and greedy. The predatory gleam in the eyes of those at PD were quite creepy, eyeing up the young like they’re cattle for slaughter, salivating at the thought of inhabiting their supple bodies and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. *shudders*

These Enders aren’t your average old people. They live to 200 years old and appear to have no health problems due to advances in medicine, odd because not all Enders are rich and the last time I checked medical care wasn’t free in America so how come none of them appear hampered by age. Sure, some have wrinkles (and others get cosmetic surgery) and watery eyes but no problems running or experiencing a full working life.

Carrie also finds herself spending time with a handsome and rich teen, Blake. Her Prince Charming. Whenever she’s around him the urgency of her predicament, racing-against-time to stop the murder, fades into the background. A day out horse-riding with him and she forgets her responsibilities and starts comparing herself to Cinderella, wondering if the girl from the fairy tale ever considered telling her prince she’s a fraud. I never understood Blake’s appeal considering the over-familiar way he behaves, acting like they’re closer than the strangers they are. And Callie’s ambiguous relationship with Michael –are they more than friends? Even at the end it isn’t clear. Is a love triangle on the horizon?

Reading about how vaccinating the old and young from something so deadly implies this is the wrong course of action generally. Yes, the elderly are an invaluable source of knowledge, wisdom and experience but in a situation where you have limited resources and a serious biological threat, is protecting the weakest to the detriment of the strong really the right decision to make? In this case it left children without parents, manual labour is carried out by those children because the elderly were either too frail or simply felt they were above such work.

The plot is interesting if slightly predictable and the characters are quite thin, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them. I did have some problems understanding the technology either because we’re given names of something but not what it does or because something we all ready have has been rebranded e.g. Z-mail a.k.a. e-mail, Zing a.k.a. text message –took me a bit to figure that one out. The focus of the book is on the very rich and the very poor Starters but we don't get to see those in the middle, nor do we see any poor Enders. The last page was intriguing but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel for one reason: the possibility of a love triangle. The rest I believe will be developed and improved upon but I can't abide love triangles.

***Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***


The tagline: "Your body. Rented out. Used to murder." sold it to me.
Profile Image for Pinky.
507 reviews351 followers
June 3, 2015
I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the characters but I wasn't attached to them. The writing style was smooth and nice. Some of the characters thoughts or actions did not make sense. The plot was very different from the usual books I read. This book is really different and for some reason, it is almost similar to the Host.

After the Spore War, when Callie was younger, her parents died. Callie, her brother Tyler, and her friend Micheal have to find a way to survive on the streets. Callie has nothing left but Tyler and Micheal as her family. So her only hope to survive is to go to the Prime Destinations. This is also known as the body bank, where teens rent their bodies to old people called Enders. The Prime Destinations pay teens a great deal of money so Callie had no choice but to rent her body. While the Enders live in a younger body, the teens live in an Ender's body.

The reason I had mixed feelings about this book was because of the decisions Callie made. When Callie met Sara, she wanted to punch Sara's face so they wouldn't pick her. But the Prime Destinations can heal the wounds and also add different chemicals when they do the makeover. It didn't make any sense. I couldn't believe that Callie would leave her brother with a complete stranger. I know that she had no choice, but I would never do that.

One of the reasons why I didn't get too attached to the character was because of the fact that we never saw that much of them. When I was reading about Micheal, he seemed nice but we never saw much of him. Tyler was the only character I was attached to but he wasn't in the book that much either. I had mixed thoughts about Florine and Blake.

This book was really unique and the whole story was really interesting. I felt that it was fast-paced but there were parts of the book where it was going slow. It's not one of my favorite books but I still liked and enjoyed it. This action-packed, dystopian novel was really amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who loved the Host or loves dystopian novels.

P.S, I haven't been on Goodreads lately because of a huge reading slump!
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 37 books8,963 followers
December 5, 2012
Wow! So loved the premise of this book! Creepy and fantastic. My favorite part was the end when she learned...Ha you thought I was gonna share a spoiler. Nope. But still loved the end! Who knew grandmas and grandpas could be so evil! There was some really cool forward thinking technology in here. If you didn't notice it skim through it again because it was really brilliant.
Profile Image for Amelie.
Author 11 books567 followers
November 6, 2015
Zur Aufmachung

Der Titel wurde glücklicherweise von der Originalversion übernommen und passt perfekt zum Buch. Das deutsche Cover sieht schon ein bisschen unheimlich aus, aber das ist kein Vergleich zum Original! Ich persönlich mag beide Cover sehr gerne.

Zum Buch

Nie im Leben hätte ich erwartet, dass dieses Buch so ungeheuer spannend ist! Auch nicht, dass es so eine innovative Idee enthält und, dass es uns eine so realistische Zukunftsversion präsentiert.
Die Idee, dass nur noch junge und alte Menschen (Starters und Enders) existieren, weil diese die ersten waren, die geimpft worden sind, finde ich persönlich sehr interessant, denn das ist ja tatsächlich eine Vorgehensweise, die existiert, dass die giftigen Sporen dann all die Menschen, die weder alt noch jung waren, getötet hat, weil die Zeit nicht reichte auch diese zu impfen, führt zu der Welt in der Callie lebt. Ich kann auch noch immer kaum glauben, dass Lissa Price es tatsächlich geschafft hat, die Idee der "Body Bank", also dass sich die Enders einen Körper von den Starters für jede Menge Geld leihen können, realistisch rüberzubringen. Die Technologie erscheint mir nicht zu abgehoben, sondern wirkt so als wäre das in naher Zukunft möglich. Auch finde ich das im Grunde gar nicht wirklich verwerflich, es ist eben nur die Art und Weise wie es gemacht wird, die das ganze so schlimm werden lässt. Das hat mir unheimlich gut gefallen, vor allem, weil man Callie so gut verstehen kann und auch, weil man einige der "Mieter" ins Herz schließt. Für einen Tag nochmal junge sein, ist das nicht der Traum jedes älteren Menschen?
Die Charaktere fand ich auch sehr sympathisch. Besonders natürlich den Hauptcharakter Callie. Wie kann man nicht mit ihr mitfiebern wie sie versucht ihren Bruder zu beschützen indem sie ihren Körper ausleiht um dann festzustellen, dass sie vielleicht nicht überleben wird um ihre Bezahlung überhaupt zu erhalten... Die Erzählgeschwindigkeit des Buches nimmt zum Ende unheimlich an Fahrt zu und zum Schluss kann man das Buch wirklich nicht mehr aus der Hand legen. Die Wendungen sind geradezu schockierend, der Schreibstil ist wundervoll und die Geschichte ist ein einziges emotionales Auf und Ab!
Ich würde unheimlich gern noch meine Meinung zur ganzen Liebesgeschichte schreiben, aber leider wäre das dann doch zu sehr gespoilert. Also mir persönlich hat die Wendung, die das hier nahm, wirklich gefallen. Es war definitiv mal was anderes!


Schreibstil: 4,5 Herzen
Charaktere: 4,5 Herzen
Spannung: 5 Herzen
Emotionale Tiefe: 4,5 Herzen
Humor: 3 Herzen
Originalität: 4 Herzen

Einfach ein toller Roman, bei dem einfach alles stimmt. Ich habe schon länger kein Buch mehr gelesen bei dem mich so rein gar nichts gestört hat! Hat mir uneingeschränkt gefallen und kann ich demnach auch so weiterempfehlen. Der zweite Band wird auf jeden Fall gekauft sobald der erscheint. Außerdem folgt Lissa Price hier nicht dem Trend des extremen Cliffhangers, doch trotzdem möchte ich unbedingt wissen wie es mit der guten Callie weitergeht und ob sie es endlich schaffen wird frei und glücklich zu leben.

4,5 Herzen
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,472 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.