Callie Woodland and her younger brother, Tyler, are vaccinated survivors of the Spore Wars. The Spore Wars wiped out the middle-aged generation leaving behind a class of mostly orphaned youngsters (Starters) struggling to survive and class of wealthy and privileged elderly (Enders) who have become the ruling class of Price’s dystopian world. In a world where she’s not allowed to have a job or own a home, Callie’s only option to care for her sick younger brother is to go to work for Prime Destinations, a body bank where the wealthiest Enders can rent the body of Starter and relive their youth. For Callie, it’s a simple matter of going to sleep while her body goes on its own adventure, that is, until she wakes up in the middle of one of her rentals and finds herself tangled in her renter’s web of intrigue. Who can she trust and why is the voice in her head begging her not to return to Prime Destinations?
Starters is a fast-paced dystopian thriller with no shortage of secrets and plot twists. Price conjures a main character whose first-person narration is realistic and relatable. Callie’s desperation to provide for her brother, and her conflict between caring for her brother and uncovering the evil motives at Prime Destinations is palpable. There are evil villains, unwitting accomplices, and, of course, unexpected love interests which Price weaves together into a compelling story.
Unfortunately, where Starters fails is in its world building. The Spore Wars are barely explained. Reasons for why the young generation is so widely loathed and exploited by the privileged class of Enders are never discussed. Readers are left to wonder why the elderly are not only so without compassion for the younger generation but also often downright evil. The mystery of the book was enough to overcome these failings and keep me reading, but the lack of depth to Price’s world left me just the slightest bit unsatisfied.