|Delacorte Books |
for Young Readers
By Lissa Price
Imagine being curled up in flannels, belly full, checking texts, or updating your Facebook feed one last time before bed. It is good to be healthy, strong, and a teenager, good to chill out and drift off to sleep with no worries except what is going on this weekend. Now imagine that a new day breaks, the world has changed, and all the parents in the United States are dead or dying. That’s Callie’s reality.
A biochemical weapon released during a war on the United States kills everyone between the ages of 20 and 60. Only the young and very old live—having been inoculated first for the virus that government officials knew would come—and now children who don’t have concerned, rich grandparents, or "Enders," to care for them are homeless vagrants fighting against starvation and violence to stay alive in a world that could care less. Callie is desperate to provide for her sick brother, Tyler. She volunteers at a mysterious company, Prime Destinations, where for an outrageous amount of money an Ender can "rent" her body for a time and like a teenager again. The deal seems straight forward enough, and so despite her uneasiness at having someone living in her head and body for a while, Callie signs on the dotted line. And that’s when the fun begins. Callie is a strong female protagonist who isn’t easily swayed to go against her morals despite the fact that doing so might save her brother’s life. She is angry at having to live in a world with uncaring and selfish Enders, at not being allowed to work to provide for her brother, and yet she is resourceful enough to keep them both alive. A good thing she’s resourceful too, because in the world of Enders, nothing is as it seems. Plot twists keep readers plowing through pages despite minor details that might have been touched on (for instance, how do the Enders who are "renting" manage to keep their muscles strong and not starve while reclining for months on end?), and mysterious characters like Blake’s grandfather and the Man in the Mask, force readers to move forward in search of answer. Part survival story, part apocalyptic fare, what’s best about this novel is the unique slant. In a market filled with such novels, Price has truly engineered an exceptional tale with no contemporary comparisons—and that’s saying something, especially for a debut author! Couple all of this with the (cruel) teaser at the end and readers will be begging for a second installment.