In the world of "Starters", a biological war has wiped out much of the population, leaving only the young ("Starters") and the very old ("Enders") alive. Callie, the teenaged, orphaned narrator, lives with her young brother, Tyler, in abandoned buildings, hiding from authority figures who would force her and Tyler into awful, institutional-like housing. Tyler is sick, and Callie is desperate to protect him. Her only option is to earn money by contracting with a company called Prime Destinations to "rent" her body for a week to an elderly person who wishes to reclaim youth for a short period. While arranging for the procedure, Callie begins to distrust the Prime employees; she is told that the expected one week rental period will actually be a month, and no one seems willing to answer her questions. She goes ahead with the procedure anyway, in order to save Tyler. She soon learns that Prime, as well as some members of the government, have a much more sinister agenda that could prove fatal to Callie and many other teens.
Comparisons to Hunger Games are unavoidable:
* Callie, the teenaged narrator, is strong, resourceful, and independent, without a parental guardian.
* Callie puts her life at risk to save her younger sibling.
* A "prep team" beautifies Callie prior to undergoing the rental procedure.
* Michael/Gale is Callie's trusted friend/possible boyfriend who lives on the fringes of society with her and who protects Tyler in her absence.
* Blake/Peeta meets Callie in her rental world, and they quickly fall for each other.
* Sara/Rue is a twelve year old girl whose life is in danger and who Callie feels compelled to protect.
* The Old Man/President Snow is the evil man who heads up Prime, and he wants to use Callie for his own purposes.
* Callie helps lead a rebellion movement to take down Prime.
I loved The Hunger Games, so I'm not sure whether it was despite or because of these similar themes that I enjoyed Starters. Callie's strength and kindness make her an easy character to like. The plot kept me engrossed, and several twists at the end took me completely by surprise; I love when that happens.
I'm looking forward to the sequel, "Enders."