Tuesday, December 11, 2012


This is not an advance reader's copy for once. I picked up a used copy of Starters from my local bookstore. If I didn't already have about 50 books to read (The goal of reading 50 books this year was to diminish that pile, not replace! Too many interesting books!), I'd be ready to read the sequel, Enders, right now. Unfortunately, the release date was pushed back from this month to next year. It appears this is a two-book series with some short e-books between. Very unusual for a young adult series these days to not have at least three novels, but I don't mind. I get to read only the first book of so many series. I'd be happy to read a young adult novel with a solid ending and no planned sequels. Bravo, Lissa Price, for changing things up a bit.

Starters is a little like a tamed-down version of Joss Whedon's TV show Dollhouse, from a few years ago. Callie is a Starter, a teenager at the beginning of her life. Those who aren't Starters are Enders, elderly people who have figured out how to extend their lives to 200 years. Everyone between about 20 and 60 is dead, unvaccinated against deadly spores released in the wars. Starters have no rights, especially if they are unclaimed by grandparents, and Callie is one of those. In order to make some sort of living, she is forced to consider illegal employment at the body bank, where Enders can rent her body for a limited time to live as young people again (Dollhouse-esque). Callie is supposed to sleep through the rental, but then something goes wrong and she finds herself in the middle of a plot to murder. As Callie pretends to be what she is not, hoping against hope to salvage the situation and meanwhile finding unexpected friendship, including a love interest, she becomes part of something bigger than she ever imagined, and there's no backing out now.

Lest you think I am swayed by the hype written on the cover of a book, let me tell you that this is certainly not the next Hunger Games, as this and far too many other books are claiming to be. The next Hunger Games will look so different from The Hunger Games that no one will see it coming, believe me. After all, there's not one single vampire in Katniss's story. Part of the success of big young adult series is their uniqueness.

But Starters is still a decent story that hit me at just the right spot after a month of not having time to read that I'm giving it four stars. It's not brilliant, but it's entertaining, suspenseful, intriguing, and surprising. And those who liked The Hunger Games might find some of the same appeal in this book. The end of Starters was not completely unexpected, but I liked where it was going as it led up to the sequel. It reminded me a little of this fall's half-season finale of the TV show Once Upon a Time, where everything seemed to be coming to a happy resolution until that final "Oh, snap!" moment when they set up the central conflict for the next half of the season. Starters ends that way.

This Christmas, if you need a good book series for a teenager you know (or, let's be honest, yourself), this is one of the better books I've read lately. The sequel comes out in 2013, but details have not yet been announced. For more information, you can go to www.lissaprice.com.

Stay tuned to the blog for an upcoming review of another great read, out this month.

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