Hot 'Hunger Games'-Style Novel 'Starters' Set for Hollywood Auction

Starters Book Cover Lissa Price - P 2012
<p>Starters Book Cover Lissa Price - P 2012</p>

Now that the Fifty Shades of Grey book auction is out of the way -- Universal and Focus got that one -- Hollywood can get back to more important matters: trying to find the next Hunger Games.

An auction will get under way this week for Starters, a book by Lissa Price that was released two weeks ago and has studios execs readying their checkbooks. ICM, which has resisted several overtures for film rights during the past few weeks, now is shopping the book and a script, meeting with top producers Monday and sending the package to studios. It's all timed to Hunger Games’ record-breaking opening-weekend haul of $152.5 million at the domestic box office.

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Starters immediately generated reviews and profiles comparing it to Hunger Games. For example, the Los Angeles Times said, “Readers who have been waiting for a worthy successor to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games will find it here,” while Booklist said it had chases “worthy of a blockbuster.” Like Games, Starters is set in a dystopian United States torn apart by a war, and it features a female protagonist who is willing to sacrifice everything to save her little brother. And like Hunger Games, it’s a YA book that appeals to adults.

A biological attack kills off anyone who wasn’t vaccinated, leaving only the young and elderly alive (called Starters and Enders, respectively). The situation is so bad that Mexico builds a wall to keep Americans out, and the young are left mostly to fend for themselves. In order to escape her predicament and help her brother, 16-year old Callie enlists in an organization that allows the elderly to “rent” the bodies of the young, with the youngsters having no memory of what transpires during the body-takeover as the Enders enjoy the vitality of youth. The protagonist discovers a nefarious secret behind the renting.

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Liongate picked up the rights to Hunger Games when the first book was only in the middle of a 200,000-copy run (the entire trilogy now has about 23.5 million copies in print). Starters is out of the gate with an unspecified print run from Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

Unlike the Grey auction, the studios won’t be forced to do a dog-and-pony show; Price is on a national book tour and not in town. But in another Games comparison, Starters is out to Hollywood with a script written by Price (Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins wrote the initial draft of the Games adaptation). 

Fueling all this interest, of course, is the staggering box office for Games, which has Hollywood executives sizing up Starters and wishing they had only been more aggressive the first time a dystopian novel centered on a teen came on the market.

Email: Borys.kit@thr.com

Twitter: @Borys_Kit