Tag Archives: Top of 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

Imagine a world that is populated only by the very young and the very old.  Everyone in between has been killed by biological warfare because they weren’t vaccinated.  Children and teenagers who don’t have living relatives survive day by day, living in abandoned buildings and scrounging for food.  There is one company who offers a way out of poverty for teenagers who are willing to rent out their bodies to the elderly, who just want to feel young again.  This is the situation that Callie finds herself in when we first meet her in Lissa Price’s amazing debut novel, Starters.

16-year-old Callie lost her parents when the ‘genocide spore’ wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first – the very young and very old. She and her little brother must go on the run, living as squatters, fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes in the form of the Body Bank run by a mysterious figure, known only as The Old Man. The Body Bank allows teenagers to rent out their bodies to ‘Enders’ – the elderly members of society – who want to be young again. But Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party in her body. She intends to commit murder.

I absolutely loved this book!  Starters really stands out among all the other young adult science fiction/dystopian books being published at the moment.  It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and Lissa Price was constantly surprising me.  There were so many twists and turns that I gave up on trying to figure out what would happen next.  Callie is an intelligent, kick-butt female character that is always putting the safety and health of her brother over her own life.  The reason she first goes to the body bank is to get the money she needs to make a good life for her brother, and she is constantly thinking about him and doing everything she can to make sure he’s safe.  I liked that the story is told in first person from Callie’s point of view as it helps you understand her motives and you really feel the punch to the gut when she uncovers the truth.  I loved the character of the Old Man because there is so much mystery surrounding him.  He always seems to be just out of reach and you don’t really know who he is or what part he plays.  I can’t wait to find out more about him in the next book.

Lissa Price is an extremely talented author and definitely one to keep an eye on.  The sequel to Starters, called Enders, is due out in December 2012 so I’m glad I don’t have to wait long to read the next part of the story.

5 out of 5

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Filed under books, science fiction, young adult, young adult fiction

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Have you ever read a book that makes you want to pull the characters into your arms, rock them gently and tell them everything is going to be OK?  This is exactly what I wanted to do the whole way through Katherine Applegate’s beautiful story, The One and Only Ivan.

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla.  Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain.  He rarely misses his life in the jungle.  In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.  But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home – and his own art – through new eyes.  When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

From the opening lines, ‘I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.  It’s not as easy as it looks,’ you are transported into Ivan’s head and see the world through his eyes.  You read everything Ivan thinks and remembers, sees, touches, tastes and smells.  Ivan comes out with some real pearls of wisdom and I found myself writing down so many quotes that I wanted to remember later.  Things like,

“In a Western, you can tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and the good guys always win.  Bob says Westerns are nothing like real life.”

There is a real sadness to the story, because these once great majestic beasts are locked away in cages, but the friendships between them help them to deal with their situation and add humour to the story.  It’s these friendships and Ivan’s need to protect Ruby that bring a sense of hope.  Ivan wants Ruby to have a better life than the one that he has lead, locked up in the mall.  Katherine Applegate’s writing is absolutely beautiful and I wanted to savour every word.  The stream of consciousness writing style she has used for this book means that she has obviously chosen her words very carefully.  Her writing is incredibly descriptive and, like Ivan, she paints a vibrant picture for you.  This is my one of my favourite descriptions,

“Because she remembers everything, Stella knows many stories.  I like colourful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings.  But any story will do.”

I can’t recommend The One and Only Ivan highly enough.  It’s a story that will affect you and the characters will stay with you long after you close the covers.

 5 out of 5 stars

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