Saturday, May 19, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

In Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion adults, especially one elderly person who wishes to live forever, clones himself and uses the clones for replacement body parts. Most of the clones are believed to be brainless. In Lissa Price's book microchips implanted in teens known as starters and very elderly folks known as enders live a sort of virtual life through body sharing. Enders can perhaps even take over the body of the young person forever. The teen would never be allowed to experience his/her own life and grow up. "The Old Man" Prime Destinations' ceo has worked out the how, does the recruiting of volunteer starters, surgeries, and the connections and monitoring. Its a very secret organization for very wealthy enders. It prefers to use unclaimed minors. These are teens with no relatives so they won't be missed should the ender decide to keep a body forever. Only, starters, with relatives, want the makeover plastic surgeries that make volunteers beautiful and sneak into the program. Some have disappeared. Callie enters the program for the promised money that will help her get medicine and food for her and her little brother. They are unclaimed minors who have been squatting in various abandoned buildings and running from marshalls. Callie knows just how awful the institutions in which captured kids are housed. She has seen the kids being driven to slave labor in mines and fields and so on. All of this is happening because of a war in which biological weapons were used on America. This caused all adults roughly under the age of 90 to perish, leaving only elderly and kids, many of whom had no known elderly relatives. Helena,the ender who chooses Callie's body has a mission, to find her missing granddaughter. She has the microchips altered to allow her to assassinate the originator of the horrible body sharing program and end it before more kids give up their lives to enders. Something goes oddly wrong and Callie and Helena can communicate with each other in Callie's head. Callie becomes convinced that Helena is right about needing to stop the program just as her little brother disappears. She is on a mission to both find her brother and bring down Prime Destinations. This makes the story not just dystopia but also a mystery story. Its hard to understand how Callie chose who to trust. Also, with all the tracking going on, its hard to understand her continued use of Helena's car and home even after Helena disappears and is presumed dead. Situations had to be carefully set up to make this story work. But its a fast and mostly exciting read with a possibility of a sequel.

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