Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #5

TITLE: Tomorrow's Shadow
GENRE: YA Mystery

Sixteen-year-old science prodigy, Camilla Harbinger, agrees to trade places with her twin sister, Kaity, for one day in order to take a school test. Two kidnappings and an extended case of mistaken identity later, Camilla finds herself fully submerged in her sister’s secret life, where a really cute boyfriend might be a terrorist and deadly new plague threatens more than just wayward streetwalkers. If Cammi doesn’t unravel the mystery of her sister disappearance before the FBI stops her or her school expels her, she might never see her sister again.

I knew what waited behind the curtain in exam room three. Dread coiled up inside me and turned my feet to lead. Each step took a deliberate effort. Around me my classmates rushed down the hall, eager to be first or just to get it all over with. I didn’t know which, but I envied their ignorance. Upon their arrival, the gasps of exclamations and moaned disgust made my skin prickle with anticipation.

Dr. Rivers’ last minute lesson would be torture.

As if summoned by my thoughts, my teacher’s hand landed at the center of my back, propelling me those last few steps through the door and into the room. And there she was. The victim. Laid out like death’s forgotten plaything, all bruised and battered and left for us—a bunch of teen-aged wannabe doctors and scientists—to poke and prod and try to make sense of it all.

In the back of my mind I knew of the festering odor, heard the shuffling feet, the gagging; someone ran for the trash can. Deep in my heart it made me sick too, but I kept looking, staring. We would take her blood, put it under glass, run a thousand tests, but it wouldn’t matter. I couldn’t save her.

I wanted to forget the scene, just wipe it from my mind and pretend it never happened. Only I couldn’t. Her face was already carved into my dreams: my first living case of Shadow Disease.

“Miss Harbinger?”

The sharp sound of my name brought me back to the exam room.


  1. Logline: The first line is fine but the jump to the second one is way too jarring and confusing. How much time has passed here and how is this a result of a test at school? And why do we care about streetwalkers? And why does the FBI want to stop her? And seriously, is "getting expelled" really enough reason to give up on finding your sister? You need to focus on her main goal (find sister) and then list the obstacles that prevent her from doing so. Leave the rest out.

    Good luck!

  2. I think this is good. I like the dread and fear you evoke. Is this set in the future? Because I have a little issue with 16-year-olds examining bodies, even if they (the 16-year-olds) are science prodigies. Seems unlikely.

    But I'm fascinated by the idea of Shadow Disease and how the description sounds like a corpse but it's actually a live patient.

    I'd read on.

  3. If this is the future, it also sounds like there's very little respect for the patient...

    The logline had a little too much in it and confused me... She's posing as her sister. So the kidnapping and the mistaken identity, as well as her sister having a secret world made me think that she was mistaken for her sister and kidnapped in her place... but her sister is the one who's missing. I'm glad we got some factors (FBI and being expelled) that set up a ticking clock, but the way they're presented (as if the FBI has no chance of saving her and somehow not being at school will mean she has to stop her search) made it a little awkward.

    The premise of the first page seems promising, but I'm confused about the continuity of it. This is her first case of Shadow Disease, but she knows what to expect (and because it's stated outright, it feel like it's significant--like she, alone, knows). Given the logline, I first thought that maybe this is the test where she's subbing in as her sister and she knows it all becaue she already took her test... but then, this would be her second case... I'm just confused.

    P4S1 is awkward because the series of events lacks parallelism and "knew of the festering odor" sounds odd because if she's hearing the shuffling, she might as well be smelling the odor.

  4. I found your logline interesting, but confusing for many of the reasons stated above.

    I also would have liked to have Camilla's name introduced earlier to better picture the scene and get to know the MC.

    Definitely an interesting premise, though.

  5. Shadow disease! I'd love to read more because the premise is so intriguing. You might consider providing more description up front of the condition of the victim instead of focusing on the dread of seeing something that doesn't seem that bad once we get the description of it. A bruised and battered person that smells bad makes their reactions seem extreme, considering they are medical students. I would take out "gasps of exclamations."

  6. Well, that's dramatic! And you've got me dying to know what shadow disease is and why high schoolers are examining a dead body. Good stuff!

    I was less thrilled with the logline. The contents of the summary don't seem nearly as original or unique as the first 250 words. I wonder if they do justice to the story.

    Twins trading places so one can take a test for the other seems a little unoriginal. Maybe that description is too general? I wonder if you should instead pull out some of the unique details here to make the logline as interesting as the first 250 words.

    Summaries are hard. I'm not sure I can do better. Good luck!

  7. Miss Harbinger? I dunno. Pushing it with the name choice? Probably. I do like the setup with the cadaver, but I nearly gave up on this sample after paragraph one: dread coiling, moans, exclamations, prickling skin. Not my descriptive bag of choice.

  8. Really liked the premise. Although I don't like the way you said "Two kidnappings and a case..later." If they weren't identical twins switching places, you might have to clarify that her identity was mistaken. As it stands, just say something like, "But when both of them are kidnapped by different people..." I love stories with identical twins that abuse their shared DNA. :)
    The status of the victim could be much clearer. I read it through twice and still didn't get that she was still alive. But I like the opening scene a lot. The first metaphor is mixed. Either go with the coil or with the lead feet. Not both.
    Awesome job! I'd like to read the rest.

  9. I think this is set in the future--shadow disease and kids examining dead bodies make me feel that.

    I was a bit confused with the build-up in the first paragraph and the body, but I figure I would read on. I'd just like less meandering in the mind and a bit more detail to ground me in this world, if it is different from our own.

    Good luck with it.