Book Reviews DNF Books

DNF: Enders by Lissa Price

EndersTitle: Enders

Author: Lissa Price

Genre: Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2014
Hardcover: 288 Pages

With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too …and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body? This is the thrilling sequel to “Starters”.

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Starters Duology

How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher

Format (e- or p-): Print ARC

**WARNING: This discussion contains unavoidable spoilers for book 1 in the series. If you have not read Starters and wish to remain unspoiled, look away! You have been warned.**


Technically this isn’t a review: I DNF’d Enders about halfway through, then skimmed the rest of the book to see how it all ended. My reaction can be summed up with this old favorite:


A little background: I read and enjoyed Starters, book 1 in this duology, very much. Despite the huge worldbuilding issues and plentiful plot holes, Starters won me over with its fantastically ludicrous premise and action-packed storyline. It’s a guilty pleasure CW-television show kind of book – who doesn’t like extra cheese every once in a while?

I gobbled up Starters with hopes for more of the same with this year’s release of Endersespecially given the huge twist at the end of book 1 (SO CHEESY BUT SO GOOD).

Unfortunately, Enders fails to deliver on so many levels. In the most literal sense, Enders doesn’t stack up to Starters – at nearly 100 pages shorter than its predecessor, Enders reads more like a very rough draft of a poorly written thriller.

Picking up basically immediately where Starters leaves off, book 2 kicks things off with a triumphant if wary Callie. Prime Destinations has been destroyed, but The Old Man – aka the mastermind behind the body bank and the guy who creepily hijacked a Starter boy’s body and made kissy-time with Callie – is still at large. While Callie has a cushy existence thanks to an inheritance from Helena (an Ender who rented out her body in Prime Destinations’ heyday), she still is fearful because the chip that allows Enders to take over her body is still in her head. Turns out, all implanted Starters – aka “Metals” – are at risk when The Old Man starts communicating via Callie’s chip and shows her just what he can make the Metals do (everything from dance around like puppets, to spontaneously explode).

Then Callie meets a dude named Hyden, who is a GENIUS and The Old Man’s resentful son. Of course, Hyden also happens to be ridiculously good looking and a fellow Metal. He also cannot TOUCH anyone – but it’s ok! He can jump into other Metals’ bodies without their consent and kiss Callie. Because that’s ok in this book. Callie and Hyden start picking up Metals and trying to protect them, which leads to a predictable raid, which leads to a dramatic showdown in which the Old Man is revealed and Callie saves the day. Sort of. I guess.

I can’t even write this synopsis with a straight face because it is all over the place. I’m not going to dive too deeply into the poor writing or the incomprehensible plot – really, the things that bothered me were character choice and overall story arc. Enders, unfortunately, has little continuity with Starters – many of the former characters conveniently fade into the background, and new characters (like Hyden) are inserted into the novel in their stead. For example, Callie’s driving motivation, supposedly, is her love for her younger brother Tyler and her best friend Michael; problem is that in this book she conveniently ships her younger brother off for the majority of the text, and any development of the relationship she has with best friend Michael is weirdly truncated. The introduction of Hyden, literally out of nowhere, is a bizarre choice manufactured for requisite romantic shenanigans – and Hyden’s secret identity and motivation is actually laugh-out-loud ludicrous. I mean literally, I laughed aloud at the big twist.

And, naturally, when you remove the entertainment factor of the story, the plot holes and worldbuilding issues are that much more apparent. What was the purpose of the Spore Wars again? Why weren’t more “middles” vaccinated (like… doctors, or soldiers, or the actual reproductive population of the planet)? How did the world go to such shit in just a year? How does Callie know what a typewriter is but doesn’t understand what a laptop is? Why is Callie trusting and smooching Hyden after she’s basically just met him? WTF IS THIS SHIT!?

The biggest question that kept popping up as I was reading Enders, however, was why are you wasting your time with this book?

So I stopped. Suffice it to say, I was not a fan. Sorry, folks, but this was a big, fat DNF – my first of the year. Huzzah.

Notable Quotes/Parts: You can read the first 50 pages online HERE.

Rating: Did Not Finish

Reading Next: Caszandra by Andrea K. Host


  • Kate
    January 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I was looking forward to this book because Starters was such a quick guilty pleasure read for me. Oh well, I have better things to read.

  • Sarah
    January 31, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Yes, I liked Starters too and thought the world had a lot of potential. What a pity!

  • Chris
    February 17, 2014 at 1:03 am

    I like your insights and dedication to reading and blogging about what you read. But given the intended audience of many of the books you are reviewing (tweens, teens, and young adults), I think some of your language is unnecessary. Profanity erodes the credibility of your reviews, and reduces your appearance of professionalism. Please understand: I am not old fashioned, nor excessively concerned with foul language. I’m not on a mission, and I don’t support censorship. But I am a librarian who advises hundreds of young readers, listeners, and viewers each week. I can’t imagine using that type of language on the job. I can’t help but feel that anyone who does will erode the credibility and professionalism of my job by the same token. There is a time and place for reactions like, “WTF IS THIS SHIT?” but not in an advisory interview. Please help all librarians by considering your position, and how it reflects on us all. Children, teens, and even other adults will make up their own minds on how and when to speak like a sailor. But as adults, we shouldn’t encourage them. It will not help young people to speak like that, and they might not understand that until they are older and have learned the hard way. Chris

  • Thea
    February 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Chris, thank you for sharing and expressing your opinion. I understand that certain phrasing choices aren’t for everyone, and I understand your concerns as a librarian (even if I vehemently disagree with you, with every fiber of my being). How you choose to conduct yourself during advisory interviews or on the job is completely up to you.

    However, this is my space as a reviewer. I can choose to conduct myself with as many expletives as I damn fucking well please. I’m sorry if my use of “WTF IS THIS SHIT” offended you, or was in your estimation a “bad example” for young readers (I think you’re completely wrong, by the way). But I believe in the power of free speech, free expression, and that readers – yes, even innocent teens and tweens! – have the ability to make up their own minds and express themselves however they see fit. Expletives included.

    I want to believe that you have the best of intentions with your comment, but it seems to me that you are coming into my reviewing space, instructing me as to how I should or should not speak, under the guise of protecting young minds that cannot think for themselves.

    I don’t have to explain why I find this entire scenario deeply fucking offensive, do I?

  • willaful
    February 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    OMG, every other word on the video-game related videos my son loves is “fuck.” When I got concerned, he quite logically pointed out that he had heard all of the words before.

    And the really amusing part is, like many Aspie kids, he is upset by “bad” language in real life and rarely uses it himself. But it’s part of the video experience for him. In other words, despite having a development disorder that includes difficulty reading social situations, he is perfectly capable of seeing that what’s appropriate in a recreational internet video is not appropriate at school.

    I suspect that if he were looking for interesting book reviews, he wouldn’t be the slightest bit phased by profanity. It might even make him feel more welcome, like it was his kind of place.

  • jay
    March 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I am so excited to read this book! But I can’t get to the library so I an freaking out! I only got to read the first 50 pages… I am about to die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Newman
    March 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I hope you don’t mind my act of “necro” by commenting on this review. But I share your same reaction.

    I read the first book while deployed in military service, and read the second years later as a student in a graduate’s course on young adult literature.

    I was dismayed by the contents of the second book. I think the worst was that I *like* the concept, of a world divided between the young and the old, of technology allowing the old to relive life at the expense of the young. But, beyond that, I have my concerns.

    As you’ve already said, there is not a single male Starter who is not flawlessly beautiful. Some of them may have sci-fi make-overs to justify their beauty, but even the remnants are barren of the traditional teenage banes such as acne, voices that crack, or the general awkwardness of youth. I guess Tyler (gaunt, unhealthy) may be the exception here. But as you’ve indicated, he’s not a character so much as a plot device that can be conveniently shipped to a mountain cabin. Also, I suspect that the author has a preference for “woodsy” cologne on men, because all of the good guys smell like some variant of a pine forest.

    Additionally, I was concerned (like you) with how quickly Callie is able to compartmentalize the fact that Hyden is a duplicitous character of shady morals. Even upon meeting him in person, the first thing he does is sedate her with a drug disguised as a mint. Because nothing says romance like minty fresh date rape drugs. Yet there she is, holding hands with him in the happily-ever-after conclusion.

    But what if Hyden is just a roguish character who meant good will all along? It would mean that his presence in Beatty’s institution was an effort to rescue her and other teens. But Callie doesn’t want to take the easy route, so she exploits Sara to help her escape on her own. I’m not sure I could live with myself after Sara’s death, but I suppose Callie is fine with blaming it all on Beatty.

  • Lily
    June 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Great review..

  • Anonymous
    December 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    just read it anyways it doesnt take long to read a book and you should always read something new even if its “Bad’

  • Nikki
    September 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I read this book in two days, I liked it, but agreed. Not even close to the first one, AND she kisses him as soon as she meets him it seems. HOW WHAT AND WHY. Lissa must’ve poured out her heart and soul to Starters if Enders ended up this choppy.

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