Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #48

GENRE: YA Sci-fi Thriller

My uncle was only 152 when he died, but five hundred people showed up for his funeral anyway. The throng around the grave seemed much more interested in what designer outfit everyone was wearing than honoring his memory, though. When anyone did remember Uncle Devin's corpse, rotting away in its fine mahogany box at the front, it was only to cast a scornful look in his direction.

I knew exactly what they were thinking.

What a loser.

Hey, it made sense. I was his only nephew, and I thought he was a loser too.

I picked at a loose thread on my suit pants as the funeral reader started in on the list of accomplishments.

Sorry, Uncle Devin. No matter how much Dad paid this guy, I'm not buying it.

His only accomplishment was being born into the same family as my dad, and everyone knew it.

"Then, when he was only eighty-three," the reader intoned, "Devin left home to make his way in the world."

Beside me, my mom snorted. I had to hide my own smile. When his parents kicked him out, Uncle Devin had gone straight to my parents. He spent the next seventy years living in their house, sponging off them and chasing one get-rich-quick scheme after another.

Dad gave us both a stern look. I forced my face into a solemn expression. He knew everything coming out of the reader's mouth was bull****. After all, he was the one who threw Uncle Devin out six months ago.


  1. I like the voice and the uniqueness at this. I'd certainly read on.

  2. I really like this. The first line completely pulled me in, and I'm curious about the "only 152." A few suggestions: the second line about designer clothes seems unnecessary and pulls my attention away. If you really want to include it, I'd do it later on when we're not so focused on the uncle and why 152 is a young age. Also, consider rephrasing "Beside me, my mom snorted" to "My mom snorted beside me." It flows better. Other than those two nitpicks, I'd definitely keep reading.

  3. I'd take out the bull$(% (distracts, and you're going strong). I'd read on ;)

  4. I was caught right from the opening line. I actually want more. Some of the writing could be tighter, but overall I'm very interested in the story and I would absolutely read more.

  5. First off I love boy POV in YA. So much fun. The first sentence is certainly an attention grabber. I honestly read it twice to make sure I read it right. 152? Really? The advanced age thing really has me hooked and want to see more. Also, what is is about "Dad's" family that would make Uncle Devin only special by relation...Hmmm... Great start to this!

  6. I really liked your entry. The plot is interesting and your dialogue is natural. The story flows well. I want to know more.

    There was a line about the designer clothes - it has a though at the end. Get rid of the though.

    Agree with another reviewer's suggestion with the mom snorting. Tinker with that sentence.

    Maybe try - My mother, who sat beside me, snorted.

    That's really it. Good job and would definitely read on.

  7. This definitely grabbed me -- I like the voice, and would certainly be inclined to read more, provided the main "hook" of the book worked for me.

    Also, I like the "bullsh$t" and presumed the special characters replacing the latter part of the word was a Blogger thing. I fully support a little course (and realistic) language in YA fiction, personally.

  8. I think the voice is authentic with just enough wit to make me want to hear more. One thing - the opening sentence that says he was only 152 but 500 people showed up anyway. It doesn't make sense because it sets us a contrast that isn't obvious. What does 500 people and his age have to do with it? (i.e. if someone says something like "he lived alone and had no friends but 500 people showed up at his funeral") then it is an obvious surprise. But, as you wrote it here, that opening doesn't make the point I think you are trying to make. But, again, a really great voice - pitch-perfect.

  9. I do like it but I think for such a short excerpt I'd like to have an idea (even a little hint) on how it's possible his uncle lived to be 152. I found the contemporary sounding voice and this odd fact to confuse me too much.

    Good luck with it.

  10. It sounds like the people being more interested in the fashion is an everyday thing. If that's so, i'd like to see her reaction to it, not just her mentioning it. If it's a normal thing then it shouldn't be something that's noticeable for her, but the reader can know about through her reactions. Something like, "I glimpsed a green bag the lady two rows back was carrying and shuffled a step sideways to get a better look. I bumped into a woman with an [adjective] hat shuffling my way to get her own better look.

    Otherwise, this is a good start!

  11. I like spec fic, and I'm intrigued by the possibility of advances in medical science lengthening the lifespan so that 152 years is seen a tragically young age to die.

    The only thing pulling me short is the coldness the narrator seems to feel at the demise of an uncle. There should be some grief, even at the funeral of somebody he (and everybody else) had such little respect for.

    Otherwise, good job.

  12. I couldn't agree more with the above comments. The coldness and lack of sympathy of the narrator yanks me right out and makes me think this is not someone I would want to go on any journey with (literary or otherwise)

  13. I echo OWL's statement and would like to add that this is a very dull opening for a YA of this genre. A little back story is nice but you have way too much info at this particular junction.

  14. This doesn't work for me on different levels. First, I agree with OWL and the others concerning the narrator being cold. Showing disrespect for his uncle, is also disrespecting his father.

    Second, how old is the nephew, if the uncle is 152, I'm not buying it that the nephew is a teenager.

    The age of the Uncle and others is interesting, but no more than today's life expectancy of 78 compared to 46 in 1900.

    Third, the line below about his Dad paying for a speaker

    "Sorry, Uncle Devin. No matter how much Dad paid this guy, I'm not buying it."

    Doesn't work because the example of leaving home at 83 is not very flattering.

    "Then, when he was only eighty-three," the reader intoned, "Devin left home to make his way in the world."

    With that said, could this be a case where you're not starting the story in the right place?

    The reason I say this is because at this point I don't like the nephew and the age thing is not a hook for me in SF.

    Good luck.

  15. Form rejection. The biggest problem I have is that everyone else on screen seems to have a much more interesting life than the main character. We only learn about him as he relates other peoples' life stories. This voice is not strong enough to make me want to turn the page.

    The longevity thing is a little confusing. If everyone lives a long time, then wouldn't the time and meaning of adolescence just shift along with the meaning of "young," "old age," etc? Reminds me a little of Lord of the Rings, where hobbits come of age later because they live longer.