This book is probably going to explode on the blogosphere soon. Perhaps it has already. Given the hype on GoodReads, I’d say its safe to assume that there are many more posts about this book coming up. I was actually kind of glad that I started reading this book before I noticed all the enthousiasm on GoodReads. I came to this novel with my usual expectations when it comes to dystopian novels: a little apprehensive, a mixture of high hopes and fear of disappointment. You never know what you’re going to get. Starters was, by and large, a pleasant surprise.
Starters is about Callie, a girl who has lost her parents in the Spore Wars; a war that wiped out every adult between twenty and sixty. In a world with teens (starters) and people ranging from age 60 to 150 (enders), teens who are unclaimed by any enders hide out on the streets, fighting for a scrap to eat, or get rounded up to work as slaves. Callie is hiding, and trying to take care of her little brother Tyler, together with her friend Michael. Tyler is sickly, and Callie is forced to go to Prime Destinations in an effort to make a comfortable home for her brother. Prime Destinations is an institution that lends out bodies of starters to enders, so that they are able to experience youth again. Although Callie finds the idea creepy, she thinks it will enable her to save Tyler, Michael, and herself. However, throughout the book she finds out that both her renter (to whom she donates her body), and Prime Destinations, are not what they seem, [when her chip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter].
Overall, Starters is a fast read. And it is creepy. So creepy. I felt highly uncomfortable and on edge while reading this book. That feeling was enhanced by the knowledge that I could not find any spoilers to make me feel more at ease, because the book hasn’t been officially released yet. The pacing is just right, especially in the first and latter part of the book. In the middle, things felt a little more stalled, and many plot points were a little too convenient: the introduction of characters, the resolution of problems, some of which had me question “why didn’t you think of this before? why wasn’t this possible before? why is it suddenly an option now?”
There is a lot of potential in Starters, not all of which came out. I would have liked a little more background information to the world building: What exactly are the spore wars? Why are there so many unclaimed starters in a world where people are able to age past 100? How come people act as if they are not aware, or do not care, about the unclaimed starters? I also would have prefered more of a glimpse into the questions of aging, immortality, and the pros and cons of it. There is a hint of discomfort on both sides, but it could be explored more. I have high hopes that some of these questions will come up in the second installment, that I am looking forward to.
Overall, Starters was an enjoyable and thrilling read, and I am sure it is going to be a hit. Nevertheless, I felt it could have been more, which kept me from outright loving it.