by Mhelaney N. ’18

As originally published in The Insider, Harrisburg Academy’s quarterly student newspaper.

“The book is always better” is a phrase often heard when yet another book becomes a victim of the film industry’s inadequate adaptations.  True, not all book-based films heartlessly ravage their literary origins with bad acting and poorly reconstructed plots… but many do.  So, to avoid the anxiety that comes before seeing a book-based movie, why not indulge in a book that will probably never be made into a movie (like ever)?

A great book that will not be victimized by Hollywood any time soon is “Starters” by Lissa Price.  “Starters” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world (because you can never have enough of those) where society was destroyed by “The Spore Wars.”  In these wars, missiles left behind toxins that killed everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty, including the parents of the main character, Callie.

“Starters” takes place in Los Angeles in the future, where people live well past one hundred and advanced technology is everywhere.  But, for kids like Callie, life is grim.  Kids without guardians are supposed to live in the state “homes,” which are about as horrific as the insane asylums of medieval Europe.  Callie has no living family, so she lives in an abandoned apartment building with her younger brother and friend, Michael, who is constantly fighting for food and running from cruel authorities. Callie’s only hope of survival lies in Prime Destinations or the “body bank.”

The elderly people, or enders, can “rent” young starters’ bodies and get to be young again. An ender and his or her starter’s brains are wirelessly connected to a computer with microchips; then, the starter falls into a deep sleep and the ender can walk around in the starter’s body as if it were his own. All she had to do was three rents and then get some quick cash, but if it were that simple it would not be worth reading.

“When I came to, I had a gun in my hands…A gun…Why?” (Price, 105).  Instead of entering a deep sleep, Callie woke up in her own body, forced to pretend to be her renter. And then, just to make things weirder, “…I heard a voice…Inside. My. Head” (68).  Now Callie has three problems: there was something wrong with the chip in her brain, she is hearing a voice, and she has to pretend to be a rich ender who might be a murderer. On top of all this, she only has a month: 30 days, 336 pages to get back to her brother, to give him the life he deserves. How does she do it?