In "Enders", the second and final novel in the Starters Series by Lissa Price, 16-year-old Callie is left with a chip in her body that Prime Destinations' CEO, The Old Man, can use to peak inside her head. From the looks of it, he's even able to take control of every single Starter that has a chip inside their head. Determined to finally take him down and enable other "Metallos" like her a normal life after all, Callie is ready to fight him.
"Enders" is a page-turner just like the first novel. Price has just a very distinct way of writing that's fast-paced and makes you want to, even NEED to find out what happens next. I found myself completely ignoring the page count and not noticing how much of it I had read in one session. (Writing 4/5)
I'm a little disappointed with Price suddenly losing a bit of her originality. What I initially LOVED about "Starters" is that it's a fresh premise, unlike anything I've ever read before. With dystopian YA there's always a handful of traits that authors tend to subconsciously go back to when in doubt. I was very disappointed of her using the "lost family member helping to take down the antagonist" cliche. I'd rather have Callie figuring it out on her own just like she did in the first novel. With that impressive amount of influential supporters she gained through the past events, it's certainly not very far-fetched.
Finding out about the Middles, the supposedly lost generation that died in the Spore Wars, had me rolling my eyes. The entire world of "Enders" is based around the tragedy that is having to lose your parents/children due to the catastrophy and having to cope with the poverty and huge gap between rich and poor resulting from it. Had there been a possibility to save that generation, Price should have at least included a Middle character in the first novel. It feels just too easy to have a handful rich people that survived and honestly, I'd rather not have her introduce this. How do you even define who's what now? Where does a Starter end and a Middle start? The terms Starter and Ender only function if they are clearly distinguishable from the outside persepective. Of course, it's personal preference here but the world is already established and I'm not a fan of throwing more complicated main points into a series two books in.
I noticed that in this one, Price puts heavy emphasis on the aesthetics in her world. By adding futuristic elements to it subtly (holographic clothing, air screens etc), her whole world becomes more real. I always felt like the world of "Starters" wasn't that realistic, given that there are hardly any technological advances besides the sudden possibility of people living up to be 200+ years. Especially because the environment and the whole feel of the city wasn't that different from a present day place aside from the ruins that Callie, Michael & Tyler seeked shelter in.
There's a lot of new characters being introduced, especially among the young Starters that it's very hard to keep up with them. At a certain point I just stopped trying to remember looks, personality traits and details because I knew that the characters weren't going to stick around for long in the first place. That's definitely a major point of criticism in Price's novels: You can always tell who's going to survive and who's essential for the current plot line. Price tends to throw away her side characters or even kill them off the second they've proven to be helpful for Callie. When you know she's got everything figured out and a planned agenda that she might go through alone as well- there's a character death coming up.
What really had me gasping for air is the resolution of the mystery of the Old Man. It's impossible to tackle the topic without spoilers. Initially I was so annoyed at the introduction of Hyden, because I feared that Price is headed towards the love-triangle-road, given that Michael clearly had a romantic interest in Callie in the first novel and they both figuratively ruffle their feathers around each other like peacocks trying to impress their mate the most. The resolution of it all is just so... brilliant that I'm really struggling to find words for it. While reading I felt sometimes like everything was just too easy and too convenient all the time, but I promise you, you're going to lose that feeling in thelast 10 pages. I rarely read a novel concluding a series that had absolutely no open questions left. You can tell it's a great series conclusion when I'm tempted to just pick up "Starters" again and reread the series. Great job. (Characters 4/5)
Overall: Do I Recommend?
Yes. Just like "Starters", "Enders" is a fresh breath of air unlike any other dystopian novel on the market right now. It has its flaws, the sequel dives a bit into the more predictable side, but I mean this novel is so refreshing that you might turn a blind eye to that. It's definitely unique, insanely well-written and captivating. Of course I recommend, even though I must say that the first novel "Starters" also works as a stand-alone novel and you don't necessarily have to read the sequel.