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Starters

Starters - Lissa Price I think the moment where I heard about STARTERS was a very happy one. I read the premise and found myself immediately sucked in. It was an instantaneous thought where I KNEW I had to have this book. And maybe that was the point where I set my expectations for what I would eventually read very high, because when I turned the last page and closed this book, I was disappointed.STARTERS follows Callie, a girl in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles after the Spore War, a not-well-explained war where spores were launched in warheads into the US. All the people 18 and under and 60 and over were vaccinated, but everyone else who wasn’t ended up dying. Callie is a Starter under 20 – also she’s an unclaimed minor protecting her sick little brother and constantly hunted by the marshals trying to round up the under-20s and send them to institutions. Callie has decided to rent her body to an Ender (an over 60) to pay for her brother’s health. Except things don’t go as planned…Sorry for the bad synopsis. I’m really getting bad at describing these books in layman’s terms and not some fancy pants official synopsis-ese! But I thought I’d tell you that before I get into the list of disappointments.Oh, Starters. You definitely disappointed me. Why, do you ask? The complete lack of reasonable, rational world building. For one, I thought of the movie Deep Impact, in which an asteroid is hurtling itself at the Earth and the President is forced to save only 1 million people. Instead of sending all the kids and elderly, the vulnerable populations, to the caves, 200,000 culturally and scientifically relevant people are selected – authors, teachers, artists, actors, etc – plus 800,000 selected from a lottery. It ensures the survival of the human race AND all the traits we need to keep civilization going. Instead, these people saved all the elderly and all the young. Apparently some 20-60 year olds lived, but we never see or hear about them. Secondly, the ages. The elderly can now live to be 200 given the wealth for treatments. A 200 year old would be roughly equivalent to today’s 100 year old I would suspect, meaning a 60 year old would be about a 30 year old. So that’s not very vulnerable to disease, eh? Likewise, discriminating against the teenagers because of a job’s act that happened BEFORE the Spore Wars, including sending kids without parents/grandparents to jail is rather dumb. I’m sure there are jobs out there that need kids – farm workers, sewage, waiters, etc – but instead, all jobs are held by the elderly.And the Spore War itself! Wouldn’t a missile destroy all the spores? Who sent these spores? Why the hell is the US government so incompetent since we’ve spent billions on a missile defense network that they keep claiming works, doesn’t work, works again, maybe works, etc?If you read other reviews on Goodreads, you’ll see that other people have had complaints with the world building. But I cannot fault this book on that, not entirely. I finished this book and found myself quite compelled by it when I looked past the world building. Callie wasn’t the best heroine ever – she’s dumb at times, annoying at others – but she was interesting enough. It was clear what she was fighting for, even if she was… Well, she was Callie. The side characters besides Helena, Callie’s renter, aren’t fully explored. In fact, a lot of the adults come off as very strange and at times idiotic. For being 120, they’re about as gullible as a toddler.What I enjoyed the most was the twistiness of the story. Although Lissa Price’s debut wasn’t the spectacular joyride I had hoped for, she sure does know a good twist. One or two were predictable, but there were so many going on that it was hard to keep up. After about 100 or so pages of plodding action, we get to the conspiracies, and this is when the story flourishes. If the world building had been up to par with the action and intrigue, this would have been five glowing stars exploding into supernovas. Instead, it’s in the middle – it’s good, but far from great. I will definitely be reading the sequel, ENDERS, but I won’t be going in with as high hopes.VERDICT: Another book suffering from a lack of strong world building, STARTERS loses its punch without a strong basis. Great action, pacing, and twisting cannot make up for the shoddy foundations.