Friday, November 30, 2012

(40) YA Paranormal: Dead New World

TITLE: Dead New World
GENRE: YA Paranormal

A teenage soldier must brave a zombie-infested wasteland to find the girl he loves.

Sunlight filtered through the trees, brightening parts of the forest while leaving others in shadow. Birds chirped and chattered serenely. Everything seemed peaceful.

That’s what frightened me so much.

Nothing was ever peaceful anymore. Not since I’d been alive, at least. I tightened my grip on my M16 and tried not to let the guys see my hands shaking.

It was my first time out. A search and destroy, away from the relative safety of the bases or towns. No walls or fences to hide behind. No machine guns or bunkers for protection. Out here it was just your rifle, your squad and, if they happened to be in the area, air support.

The summer heat weighed down my bite-proof fatigues. Sweat drenched my body and dripped into my eyes, stinging. I flipped up the visor on my helmet to wipe my face.

Ambrose patted me on the shoulder. “Cold enough for you?”

I turned to him and grinned, struck again by how he’d changed since basic training. He didn’t look like the kid I’d known practically my entire life anymore. He’d shot up and filled out, his built frame and square jaw making him look older than sixteen. Even though we were the same rank, I couldn’t help looking up to him, and I wasn’t the only one.

“I hate these things. It’s like wearing an oven.” I closed the visor.

“Better than being dead, Holt. Or worse, dead-ish.”


  1. I was a little confused by the dialog here. His friend says 'Cold enough for you?' when their gear is like ovens. Wouldn't he say 'Hot enough for you?' instead?

    Other than that I didn't have many problems. The tension here is good, and you imply without saying outright that this is a zombie apocalypse story.

  2. Love the line: "That's what frightened me so much." :)
    Like how the scene is set and some back story is naturally woven in.
    Could just be me, but "shot up and filled out" sound like expressions adults use, not teens. I also stumbled over "built frame" several times before I figured out what it meant. But aside from those small details, I like this. You've set the scene in a grim world and made me curious about what will happen.

  3. I really like this opening! You set up this lovely, peaceful-looking world, and then we realize they're in the middle of a serious war. I like how you weave in the type of armor and the weather to give us a sense this is really serious. And the last line makes me wonder what dead-ish could me. Totally hooked!

  4. bite-proof fatigues and dead-ish. I love the voice you use here. I have never read a book on Zombies but this makes me curious.

  5. Great job, and I really love some of the lines--"That's what frightened me so much," and "Or worse, dead-ish." are my favorites. I would definitely keep reading. I really like the idea of a male MC who's never known anything other than the zombie-infesting world he live in who's searching for the girl he loves. Zombies + romance = win!

  6. I like the title, but I think you could've put a little more info into your logline.

    As for the excerpt, I like it a lot. You get a bunch of info in but you're writing is clean and spare. The only thing I'd suggest is painting more of a picture with the description in the first paragraph. I get that you're setting it up to be undercut by 'That's what frightened me so much' (great line, btw), but it's still a little too bland for me.

    Would definitely read on, good luck!

  7. I agree that you could put more into the logline- it seemed a little generic.

    I like the voice, the situation is interesting and I have a feel for your narrator

    I think you could make a couple of changes in the third paragraph:

    1. take out 'anymore'
    2 rather than 'and tried . . . shaking'- 'I didn't want the guys . . ..shaking'

  8. I'm just echoing what others have said. I liked the voice in this a lot. But I'm left wondering what the plot really is. There are zombies. He's fighting. And....????

  9. I think this great for a Hollywood logline, but for a YA pitch, I want a little bit more of where we’re going so I know how this stands out from the other military-ish zombie books out there.

    I don’t love your first paragraph. It all seems a little generic. It creates lovely contrast with your short one-line paragraph that follows, though. Lovely job with that.

    I think you do a great job of contextualizing Holt in his world. I know immediately that as long as he’s been alive, there’s been uncertainty and war. That tension serves you quite well. And then you layer in that your main character is out on his first mission, and the tension is heightened even further. You’ve set the stage for a story of great action and excitement. I like how you’ve given your audience clues about exactly what you can expect in that respect.

    I wish you weren’t spending quite so much page time dwelling on the heat. I understand the significance of laying it out there, but I think it perhaps is drawing more attention than is warranted. Of course, not knowing what’s coming immediately after, it’s a bit hard to judge that, but I suspect you can pare that back without hurting the narrative.

    Beyond the general, I have no idea where this is going, and I wish I had a better sense of that. But, I guess that what reading on is for.

  10. Ahahahaha! I love that last line! Zombie books work best for me when there's humor, because they scare the shizzle out of me, and I see plenty of that here.

    The thought of the heat and all those deadish bodies foreshadows a smell I NEVER want to smell, which means you should make it A Thing. Lots of visceral feelings here. Love the idea of the army and the camaraderie, and I'm pretty sure Ambrose will meet a terrible end.

    I'd keep reading.