Monday, March 26, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

“Survival is just the beginning.”

For the past year, sixteen-year-old Callie Woodland and her younger brother Tyler have struggled to survive since their parents’ deaths. With a stalemate in the Pac Rim sea battles, the United States used EMP weapons to crash computers, planes and stock markets around the world. In retaliation, the U.S. was attacked with spore-head missiles. As per usual, the elderly and the young received their vaccinations first. In the end, those between 20 and 60 who weren’t vaccinated against the genocide spores, died. “In less than a year, the face of America changed to a sprinkling of Starters like me (Callie) in a sea of silver-haired Enders, well off, well fed and oblivious.

Eking out an existence and squatting in abandoned buildings with their friend Michael, the three are continually on the run to evade capture. With hopes of providing a permanent roof over Tyler’s head, Callie pays a visit to Prime Destinations, a company that employs teens. Starters, those under 20, are paid handsomely to have their bodies “rented” by Elders, those over 60, who wish to be young again. For enough money to pay for a house for a year, Callie must agree to have her body rented three times. A neurochip is implanted in each Starter’s brain and while under general anesthesia, an Elder is connected via a Body Computer Interface. The Ender lives vicariously through the Starter and is young again.

Callie signs a contract and undergoes her physical transformation. Her first two rentals go well and are brief, but she is thrown for a loop when her third rental will be for a month. Begging a couple of hours, Callie is able to visit Tyler and Michael to let them know she will be gone awhile. All three are upset but realize the pay off will be worth it in the end. She goes back to Prime Destinations and begins her final rental.

Callie finds herself in a dance club. Initially confused, Callie realizes her renter has lost contact with her body. Attempting to conceal her true identity, Callie realizes her renter, the wealthy Helena Winterhill, is there with her fellow renter friend, Madison aka Rhiannon. She tries to play off the situation, but meets a fellow teen, the gorgeous Blake, who is interested in Callie. He doesn’t know about Enders renting Starters and thinks Callie is just a regular teenager where Helena’s acquaintances think she is just renting Callie’s body. Eventually Callie leaves and makes her way back to Helena’s house. She realizes that it’s only been a week since her last rental, far too short and something has gone terribly wrong.

Thrown into a world she is unfamiliar with, Callie tries to keep her true identity and what has occurred to her a secret. When Blake calls for a date, Callie cannot resist even though Helena’s housekeeper frowns upon it. Their outing goes well and Callie is thrilled but feels guilty about living the high life while Tyler and Michael are struggling. She sees a large sum of money in Helena’s purse and asks Blake if he will take it to Michael. Something happens and Callie blacks out. Callie later awakens and realizes a significant amount of time has passed. She considers returning to Prime Destinations to have whatever the problem is fixed. She also notices that the money she gave Blake is still in Helena’s purse. Suddenly a voice in her head warns Callie not to go to Prime Destinations and she realizes she needs to obey.

What has gone wrong with Callie’s rental? Will she be able to make enough money for Tyler, Michael and herself to live in safety? Why has Callie regained control of her body only to keep losing it? What is really going on at Prime Destinations? Will Callie be able to tell Blake the truth about herself without fear of rejection? When Callie realizes Helena’s true intentions for her body, can she stop her before it is too late?

Book two, Enders, will be published on December 4, 2012.

Visit Lissa Price's website.
Visit the Starters website.

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