Callie lives in a world where everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 was killed off in the Spore Wars. The elderly, called the Enders, are mostly evil and selfish, forbidding the young from working and shipping off unclaimed minors to harsh institutions. Worst of all, though, some Enders rent the bodies of young Starters, to enjoy life in a fabulous young body. Callie, desperate to protect her young brother, allows herself to be rented out, only to stumble into the middle of a murder plot and a massive Ender conspiracy.
Starters immediately drew me in and kept me interested through many plot twists and turns. There was plenty of action and quite a bit of mystery as to what was actually going on. However, about halfway through the book, things took a turn for the worse. I don’t know what happened, but it felt like the second half of this book was half-assed. I lost interest in the characters who started to look awfully flimsy and who started acting out of character to fit in with whatever plot twist was occurring at the moment. (For example, one body-renter Callie meets who is ditzy and totally into the novelty of renting suddenly and unconvincingly turns into an ultra-responsible activist against body-rental.) As much as the plot twists made for an interesting story, it also sort of lost me and I’m not sure I could actually explain what happened in this book. It was a really disappointing ending to what started out with a bang.
This world was pretty interesting… especially the tension between the young and old, which is a theme that seems particularly relevant. However, I think that the author’s website, other reviews, and the blurbs do a lot of the world-building work for this book. I am not particularly picky about wanting to know why a world is the way it is (I often think that the characters are left in the dark as to why things are the way they are, so that’s why the readers are, too), but I know that the world-building here would drive more particular people crazy.
Character-wise, Callie wasn’t a terrible lead, but she wasn’t all that spectacular either. The character I really wanted to know was Helena, the Ender who rents out Callie’s body. Also there was a love triangle in here which was pretty inconsequential and the boys were about as one-dimensional as possible. I don’t think these boys are swoon-worthy in the least. So don’t go into this hoping for a fun love story.
This is a hard review to write because I didn’t really hate the book, it really was engrossing and had lots of action and some interesting old vs. young tension. The last half (and my final impression) of the book, though, was so blah, leaning toward negative that it is hard not to remember just the flaws. If you like dystopia, you might enjoy it. But save it for a time in which you are able to easily forgive occasionally faulty character and world development. Oh, I’d also recommend getting it from the library and then deciding if you’d like to buy it. It is definitely not a book everyone will love!