Series: Starters #1
Publisher: Random House LLC
Date Published: 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Audiobook Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
Audiobook Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Description: In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party--her body will commit murder, if her mind can't stop it.
Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first--the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as enders, who get to be young again. Callie's neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It's a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank's horrible plan. . . .
Starters has a very Dollhouse feel to it, so I was immediately intrigued. We have a post-war world where only the young and the very old survived because they were the first to be vaccinated. In this world, the “Enders” aka the elderly actually live about double our normal life-span, and now they can rent a “Starter’s” body (aka the teenagers) and get to feel young again. During this time the donor is asleep while the renter has full control of their body and mind. But of course, with this kind of tech (to use a Dollhouse term) there is opportunity for the corporation to do horrible things.
I really liked the character of Callie because she does everything in order to take care of her little brother. She expects to be rented for a short bit of time, and then have enough money so that she and her brother no longer have to scrounge around for food and a place to sleep. She also makes difficult decisions in order to do the right thing and try to help protect those around her.
The romance, or what appears to be a love triangle, was a little on the weak side. We have Michael, who has some cool lines at the beginning of the book (I used a quote from him in an earlier that’s what he said), who helps take care of Callie and her younger brother. Then we have Blake, who’s grandfather plays a really big role in the story, who Callie meets while being “rented”. Callie was really into Blake even though it seems like she used him to get to his grandfather. They had a few special moments and Callie tells us in her narration that she really liked him, but I still felt like there wasn’t enough in the feels department between Callie or either of the boys.
I wasn’t super impressed with the narration, but it was good over all. There were parts that felt like the narrator was lacking in emotion because I would have expected a deeper reaction to some scenes.
I will say that the ending was quite a bit of a shocker, and while it didn’t end in a cliffhanger, this book definitely set up for the sequel. The old man is creepy as hell and the scene where Callie finds out what he was up to the whole time, well, it kind of made me sick. I’m also very confused but curious about Callie’s father, so I expect to find out what that was all about in Enders.