Thursday, November 13, 2008

7 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

GENRE: Young Adult

"Mother," I say, with as much distain as I can possibly muster, "you are ruining my life."

She smiles her sweetest smile. And can I just say, there is nothing more annoying than when you're trying to make a point and your mother just keeps on pretending everything is normal, like she hasn't just delivered the lowest blow of your entire life.

"Don't be so dramatic, Lexie," she says, and actually has the nerve to roll her eyes at me. "I'm not saying you can't go. I'm just saying I'm not paying for it."

I am speechless. Well, okay, not quite. "But that's the same thing," I say, not sure how she hasn't realized this already.

Mom crinkles her brow. "Of course it's not the same thing."

I crinkle my brow right back at her. "Don't be stupid Mother." I wonder if my use of ‘Mother' is starting to push it. I always carefully reserve it for times when it really needs to count, and even then, I usually try to use it only once per argument.

She sighs. "You're just going to have to earn the money on your own. You're thirteen now. Plenty old enough to get a job."

This time I really am speechless.

Did she just say job?

I mean, as if. How am I supposed to raise six thousand dollars? No job in the world pays that much. It's not as if I have years to save up or anything. I'm thirteen! I mean gawd,


  1. I would read on to see what she's trying to buy (recalling when I was fifteen, I started working because I needed $10,000). And also to see if the voice evens out a little bit - meaning less dialogue/reaction and more narration.

    I think this could work, but I'm not sure if it's YA.

  2. I don't know. I don't really like the way it's written.


  3. Sorry, not hooked.

    I really don't like reading in the present tense. Also, for me, the character came across as angsty and a bit self-centered. I don't really enjoy reading this style of thing.

  4. I disagree with those above--I really liked it. She sounds precocious, and I'm guessing she might lose some of her angsty-ness as she matures during the book.

    The only thing that caught me: the "as if." I immediately thought of the movie Clueless. I don't know if this is something teens say much any more.

    But I would definitely read on--Lexie sounds fun.

  5. Present tense puts me off, but that's just a personal bias and by no means a criticism. I do have a problem with a thirteen year old calling her mother "stupid" and the mother not chastising her for it. That's a bad roll model for a teen, especially a passive mother who doesn't stand up for herself to her own child.

  6. I agree with Karen. The "stupid" comment bothered me and made me like the character less. I also am not a fan of present tense and found it distracting.

    However, I like the voice of the character and am curious about what she wants to buy. I think she'd have a hard time getting a job at her age, so that may be a challenge in the plot itself?

  7. I have to say that I liked it too. I don't mind the present tense. I think the voice is pretty good, and I like the passive aggressiveness of the mother. I'd read on to find out what the 13 yo wants to buy and why it's 6K. :)

  8. I'd like to know why she needs so much money (I'm guessing, for a school trip?)and it should be interesting to see how she goes about earning the money.

  9. You have set up a mother/daughter conflict that many teens would identify with. That's vital in YA. Present tense also works well with YA and you're doing a good job with it.

    The voice is a bit inconsistent. I thought the first sentence was a bit trite. Be more original. And I don't think a 13-year-old who uses a word like "disdain" (watch spelling) would use the expression "as if".

    I would definitely read on if for no other reason than to find out why a 13-year-old needs so much money.

  10. Couldn't really get into this, sorry. I didn't care for Lexie's narrative voice at all--she comes across as a spoilt brat. Also, at thirteen, what kind of job could she get? Most states won't hire anyone younger than 16, and 13 is still a bit young to be a babysitter. So, I kinda found myself doubting the plausibility of this whole set up. Sorry.

  11. I'm not a present-tense person myself, so this didn't hook me for that reason. Also, I have 2 teenagers, and man, I've been the recipient of the Eyeroll of Angst more than once. I disliked HP5 when Harry was a whining, miserable brat, so I wouldn't contiue this book because I get it in RL. :)

    However, the MC has a few job possibilities: cutting grass/shoveling snow, cat/dog-sitting, and what my kids did starting at age 12: soccer referee. They're union members and everything, and can make up to $200 a season. I know, it's not 6K, but it's a real job.

  12. Loved the character's voice.

    I'd read on.

    didn't like the mother not reacting to her daughter saying she was stupid. Lexie wonders if her whiny use of "mother" is crossing the line but she should be wondering if her telling her mother to quit being stupid crossed the line.

  13. I wasn't a fan of the first line. It came across as stilted and too old.

    That said, however, I think the rest is fine. There is some good dialog, and frankly I've heard kids address their parents in much worse ways, and parents take it. I think eventually I'm going to have to find something to like about this character, but I'm not put off yet. She has voice and personality - something lacking in a lot of books.

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  15. I'm not too sure about this one. I can take present tense, so that's not a problem for me. But the fact that Lexie seems to think she's entitled to whatever it is that costs $6,000 when she's 13 put me off a little. Then again, that is the age where kids are pretty self-absorbed, so maybe your audience would think nothing of it.

    I also caught the "as if," and I would hope that it means your novel is sent in the mid-nineties. Contemporary teenagers don't use it.

  16. I think the interplay between mother & daughter works, the dialogue is good. I just find the daughter unlikable and would be unlikely to want to read any further, frankly.