Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #17

TITLE: The Devourer
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Essentially, this is the story of how I died.

Melodramatic, I know, but it's the truth. And besides, I'm a teenager. I'm entitled to be at least a little melodramatic.

Don't panic. I'm not a ghost. I'm not a vampire. I'm not even a zombie. I'm still a plain, ordinary human being. Well, perhaps not quite as ordinary as I once thought, but human nevertheless!

I suppose my story really began when my best friend, Zoe, was found unconscious, sprawled in a stairwell at St. Guys hospital in central London. She was supposed to have been at my house in the suburbs, a good hour's tube journey away.

She was put in the ICU ward at St. Guys and I made the trip to visit her every day. I'd never been so thankful for the school summer holidays.

But it was about a week after she was found that the story began for me. It began with the first of the spelling mistakes…

I watched the London Underground signs flash by as the tube train pulled into the station.

London Bridge.

London Bridge.

London Brige.

I blinked and the sign was gone, another perfectly normal London Bridge sign sliding into sight as the train stopped.

I turned down the volume on my music player and all thoughts of the spelling mistake disappeared from my mind as I stepped out of the carriage and onto the platform.


  1. Teenagers? Melodramatic? Go on. :) I see 70 a day and can agree with that. I typically don't love "This is the story" type narration, but once you got to the clever little London Bridge part, I was hooked.

    I'd read on!

  2. Oooh! Love gritty urban fantasy with subways. Very fun. I'd keep reading.

  3. I agree with AG on the "this is the story" narration. I think it might be a little overused and becoming a cliche, especially starting with "...this is the story of how I died." But I also agree with the London Bridge part. What do spelling mistakes have to do with anything?

    It seems like you have an interesting concept here, but trying a different beginning might help your novel stand out from the crowd. Good Luck!

  4. LOVE the voice!!!

    Personally, I also love stories set in London :) Very cool that the MC claims she's dead but still human. I want to know more.

    I would so read on!

  5. I like the voice and didn't mind the opening. The pacing is great, but I got tripped up here:

    But it was about a week after she was found that the story began for me. It began with the first of the spelling mistakes…

    You probably don't need this repetition of where the story beings. Maybe work in the spelling mistakes when she sees the London Bridge sign wrong.

    Good luck!

  6. I think you might be better served beginning your story with paragraph 4. The stuff up top takes away from the impact. The setting is full of possibilities so it is intriguing. I am not sure why you mention spelling mistakes without explanation. Also, the repetition of London Bridge is unnecessary. I think with some tightening this could be very strong.

  7. Great voice. You don't need the exclamation mark though because the voice already does such a great job of conveying feeling.

  8. I can't decide if it has more punch beginning with "essentially this is the story of how I died" or if you started out with my story really began, etc, etc, and then said "this is the story of how I died."

    Something to consider, maybe play around with it a bit?

    I'd definitely continue reading though, I'm intrigued. And it takes place in London.

  9. I'm almost hooked. I don't know what spelling mistakes have to do with anything but it sounds interesting enough.
    I'm not crazy about the narrative style and the first few paragraphs seem like backstory and tension killers. The first line tells us this is the story of how she died, then you go on to tell us that she's not really dead.
    Since the concept seems good, maybe this isn't where your story should begin. I'd like to see where the action starts.

  10. The first line hooked me in and the great voice. I think the prose could be tightened a bit and I got confused a bit about the repeating London Bridge signs. I think I know what you are getting at, but I'm not sure.
    Regardless, I'd keep reading :-)

  11. I liked the repetition of London Bridge because I was envisioning the flashing sign and watching for the change. I also like the intrigue of the spelling mistakes. I don't have to know why it points to a problem yet because you've compelled me to read more.

    Laying out "This is the story of how I died" eliminates the tension for the reader. We know the main character dies, so what is at stake for us? I'd consider leaving out the telling of how the story begins and just dive right in as was suggested above.

    I like the voice here.

  12. Good first sentence but I don’t think you need the second and fifth paragraphs. By cutting the second paragraph, you don’t lose the voice and you move more quickly into the story. The fifth can be cut because we know Zoe is in the hospital already and will figure out that he is going to visit her as the story progresses.

    I love the flashing platform signs and the subtle clue of the spelling mistake.

  13. It was the voice that hooked me in this piece. I was simply browsing the entries until I met yours. I read the first sentence, rolled my eyes, read more and then...hunkered down to enjoy the rest.

    I'd buy this book if I saw it in a bookstore. You did what is essential for a first page and that is to hook the reader. All the aforementioned critiques can be edited, you accomplished your mission Luke Skywalker.


  14. Your first line almost grabs me-kind of sneeks your arm around my shoulders and guides me in. Your next two paragraphs have me kind of turning out of your arm. Whisper something important/ intriguing to me to keep me walking with you. I like your voice it is comfortable. I think maybe your hint at something out of the ordinary might be too subtle unless you really ramp it up on the next page or two.
    I'm almost there and would like to see more.