Author: Lissa Price
Author's Website: http://www.lissaprice.com/
Publisher: Delacorte (Random House)
Released: March 13, 2012
Genre: YA Dystopian
Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge, Dystopia Challenge
Callie has been living on the streets with her brother and friend for the past year, ever since the spores during the war killed her parents, the same way they killed every adult between 20 and 60, who didn't qualify for the vaccination. She's desperate to provide decent food and a home for her brother, so she joins Prime Destinations as a body renter - she'll lend her body for Enders, people as old as 100 or 150, to inhabit for a while. But she learns horrifying things about the body bank, and what starts as desperation to help her brother turns into an effort to save the entire country from the clutches of these murderous scheming people.This book has got it all!! From gripping emotion, to thrilling action and suspense, complete with lush details and technical brilliance, it's a masterpiece!
First, I'm going to gush about the emotional connection. I completely connected with Callie right from the start, and stayed emotionally attached to her throughout the whole book. And her own emotions are so life-size, so real and overwhelming, that I felt them right along with her - the confusion, the betrayal, the moral dilemmas, the determination, the courage. Added to that, the cast of characters is utterly amazing. Every single one is a full character - down to Trax, the body bank technician, who appears only briefly for two scenes. The good guys, the bad guys - they're all completely fleshed out, no stock characters here! I whole-heartedly loved all Callie's friends and allies, and whole-heartedly hated her enemies and adversaries - except for when I was confused, along with her, as to which they were. Then the ambiguity consumed me.
The other thing that kept me enthralled, aside from the emotional rollercoaster, was the edge-of-your-seat pacing of the action and suspense. Lissa unfolds the details and information slowly, teasingly, and then the action creeps up on you and you're in a full-on car chase scene! When the "plot thickens" and things start heating up at the end, I had to remind myself to keep breathing - and then when I read the last few paragraphs, I found myself staring blankly at the page and willing it to offer up more information so I wouldn't have to wait until December to find out what that all means.
And then on the other side of the brain, while I was just enjoying the ride of the novel, I was appreciating the technical mastery that Lissa pulls off. Unwisely, before I read the book, I read Lissa's FAQs (I'm not sure why I'm linking to it here when I don't advise reading it until after you've read the book), in which she addresses fan questions about details of the story. So I went into this thinking about how sometimes stories don't hold together and details don't seem to match up. Well, that is so not the case here. Everything makes sense, every little setup detail has payout further on in the story. The craft of the novel is subtle, so that unless you're paying attention to it, it just reads like a really good book. But if you're looking for it, you can see that Lissa knows what she's doing.
I am so waiting on pins and needles for Enders, December 11, 2012!
EDIT: ENDERS will be released in 2013.
Meanwhile, enjoy Portrait of a Starter and Portrait of a Marshal.