I got this book on Net Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s Books. I also got the ARC at Barnes and Noble. I actually did an ARC swap with an employee. She hadn’t read Partials yet, and I hadn’t read this one, so we traded! It just came out yesterday, and it’s definitely a book I’m considering purchasing and owning a finished, final copy of. It was just that good!
It wasn’t too easy from the brief description on the ARC or galley to gather what the book was actually about. Also, there’s a lot of talk about people liking the cover, but I kind of hate the cover and might not have picked this one up if I didn’t get an advanced copy of it. The cover is too middle grade; kind of Animorphs/Goosebumps looking, and I can totally see how it would turn some teens away. I mean I get the cover; I really do. There’s a reason the girl is so white and her hair is so white and her eyes are two colors. I just wish it came off as a little older.
But, I’m so glad I got to read this one! The story is fantastic! Though, I did have some original reservations about the story as well. Once I understood what the layout of the world was and how Prime Destinations worked, I kept thinking, “This better not just be a copy cat version of Joss Whedon’s show, Dollhouse. And I’m proud to say that after finishing it, this book, while very similar to Dollhouse, definitely is its own story!
It’s a dystopia and takes place in a future that occurs after a serious war and serious spread of a virus. The virus ends up killing all those who were not vaccinated early enough. All the children and elderly are fine, but all the adults and those off fighting in the war are now gone. There’s a huge age gap between the enders (the elderly) and the starters (the youth). Plus, it doesn’t help that the enders can live to into their 200’s due to the future medical technology that exists in this world. Eventually, the ender government comes and takes all the homes that no longer have adults living in them. Children are taken by the truckload to government facilities that work more like prisons because they have no legal rights till the age of 19.
The book begins with Callie walking into Prime Destinations, a company she heard that helps minors. In Callie’s world children are not allowed to work. And to take care of her sick little brother, she fights, steals, and takes whatever food she can. She learns that Prime Destinations is a company that rents out teens’ bodies to enders. Enders can rent a body for a period of time to play sports and do things they haven’t been able to do since they were young. All Callie has to do is rent her body out three times, and then she will get enough money to boy her brother a house.
She thinks about it, but then decides she has to do it. And everything goes smoothly until the third person to rent her body alters Callie’s brain chip. Callie goes in and out of consciousness, swapping brain time with the old lady, Helena, who’s renting her body. She’d go back to Prime Destinations to get fixed (to make sure she gets her final payment), but a voice in her head, Helena’s voice, says never to go back there.
Soon Callie learns that Helena is a murderer and wants to use her body to murder a senator! She learns that Prime Destinations is way worse than she could ever have imagined. Between the kidnappings, the disappearing teens, the promise of a complete beautifying surgery that really appeals to image obsessed kids, the kids and teens fighting to stay alive and dying of hunger and lack of running water, this book has it’s intense moments.
But, my favorite moments involve Callie figuring things out and putting together the pieces that Helena left behind. There’s a lot written about the differences in age, class, and power. There’s voices, car chases, prison escapes, guns, assassination attempts, love triangles, and so many twists and turns that I read it all in one day. This book had the first ending in a very long time to actually shock me! I won’t say what happens, but just know that it so good.
I loved how clever and desperate Callie was. And I especially love that she is the way she is because of how much she wants to care for her little brother. I love the boys in the book. And I love the friends Callie makes (the old people inside young people’s bodies). And most of all I love the positive effects Helena had on Callie, and how much she got the girl to stick up for herself and fight for what she knew was right. This story was remarkable. The characters were fantastic! I’m dying for book two (which is supposed to come out at the end of the year). I highly recommend this one to fans of Dollhouse, and the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. It gets a 10/10.