First, Callie lost her parents.
Then she lost her home.
And, finally, she lost her body.
But she will stop at nothing to get it back…
When I read the blurb for this story I was really curious, after all how can you lose your own body, let alone try and get it back? In this dystopian future it would seem it’s not too difficult! I will fill in a little background to whet your appetites, much of the basics come out in the first chapter and are then built on through the story. America has been at war and this included the dropping of spore bombs. As only the most vulnerable in society were immunised, there is no one left between teenagers (Starters) and octogenarians plus (Enders). The Starters are now at the mercy of the Enders, they either need to be ‘claimed’, or they are put in institutions and needless to say these are horrible. Callie has been on the run for a year, along with her much younger brother Tyler. Tyler is ill and Callie is desperate to find them a safe home and medicine. For this she needs money and she has found a way to get it. An illegal organisation is paying youngsters to rent out their bodies to the Enders, who pay highly to have fun in a young body again. But for Callie the process doesn’t go according to plan and she begins an action packed journey to save herself, and others.
I was sucked in from page one, as Lissa starts off with Callie’s visit to Prime Destinations to find out about renting out her body, it feels tense from the beginning. Callie herself feels the danger of what she is doing and as a reader it is easy to feel her vulnerability in this situation. In the descriptions of what will happen to Callie and her body I couldn’t help but think of The Matrix films and losing yourself to the computer. Although it has to be said that is the people who are the villains in this story not the computer. But the whole idea is so plausible and it was so easy to picture this happening.
From this premise Callie’s world begins to fall apart as she wakes up in mid rental and finds that her renter wants to use her body to commit murder. From here on the action is fast paced and full of twists and turns. There is a sprinkle of romance and a little bit of a love triangle, but the focus of the tale is Callie’s ever growing awareness of what is happening to her and around her, alongside her desire to intervene in what she sees and experiences. I found that it was possible to predict some parts of what was going to happen, but other things were a complete surprise, I like books that include the unexpected.
As is so often the case these days, the novel finishes on a cliff- hanger, so much happens in the last couple of chapters, some ends are tied up (thankfully) and some are left open, or half tied! There are also big hints that some ideas that have been set up are about to be turned on their heads. There is much that sets us up for the next book, but for me the final development felt like a step too far, it was the only point that I felt that things were getting a little silly and maybe it wouldn’t all hang together. I would happily have read the next one without this hint of what might come. However the good points in the story absolutely outweigh this more negative one. Hopefully Lissa will maintain her ability to make fantasy feel like reality in the next instalment.
I really enjoyed this, for me not quite in the league of The Hunger Games, but I am waiting impatiently for the next instalment and to see where the story goes next.
Verdict: A great debut novel, if you like YA futuristic stories I am sure you’ll enjoy this. I will definitely be looking out for more by Lissa.
Reviewed by Helen