Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Revelation
GENRE: YA Contemporary

I am not a monster. I am a terrorist. One of the brethren destined to bring terror to the Creator’s enemies. Samih accepted his sacred duty as it was written in the Koran. The Americans would call him a murderer after he completed his holy mission. But Allah would welcome Samih into paradise with open arms for his obedience.

The sun blazed above Samih, warming his face and shoulders. A sign from Allah he would bless Samih’s assignment. He closed his eyes, basking in the heat. Arman’s paralyzed face engulfed his mind. He was transported back to that fateful day. The American soldiers spraying the crowd of war protesters with their hatred. The torturous sounds of ruthless bullets finding their victims and agonizing screams. His beloved brother falling to the ground, blood spilling from his head wound; Arman, such a brave soldier, lying dead in his arms the day before his eleventh birthday.

He had waited five years for this day to come.

Samih opened his eyes and filled his lungs with fresh air. I can be brave like you, Arman. He adjusted his black long sleeve shirt and rubbed sweaty palms over his khaki pants. Samih took hold of the bomb detonator, gripping it carefully. A smile tugged at his lips as he thought of the vest strapped to his body, his ticket to heaven.

Samih took purposeful strides toward the concrete steps. He focused on his steady heartbeat as he ascended the stairs. Samih could feel it.




13 comments:

  1. The writing is good, but I wouldn't read it. It's a brave undertaking, but I can't imagine many Americans wanting to read from the POV of a terrorist who hates us. Maybe query letter explaining the direction of the novel will help you gain an agent's interest.

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  2. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I have to agree with Lanette. This topic/viewpoint is just not my cup of tea.

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  3. A bold choice of pov. I would also like a query letter in this case to see where it is going. But, I am nto sure if he would think of himself as a 'terrorist'. He might have a more self-serving moniker. I think the description of "ruthless" bullets is jarring as ruthless is more assiciated with a person or living thing than an inanimate object. "Arman's paralyzed face engulfed his mind." - here is a sentence where I think less would be more because as written it confuses more than clarifies. A general note would be to cut down on the adjectives throughout - agonizing screams; sweaty palms; holy mission; sacred duty; purposeful strides etc etc.....I think it undermines the pace of an opening that would benefit from a sparse approach free of unnecessary modifiers.

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  4. I think the writing is really good here. But I think you need to do something early on to make your reader want to read Samih's story--to want to believe in Samih. It's hard to believe in a terrorist. You do a little bit of this, showing his brother's death. But maybe take some of the militarized language out of here and make it more heart wrenching and emotional. Maybe even start with this so that your reader hurts for Samih before discovering he's a terrorist.

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  5. I have to agree with what Liz said. You want to make us believe in Samih, and that's a hard goal to achieve. Pitching it with more emotions from the standpoint of a boy might help. Also, I doubt he'd call himself a terrorist.

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  6. I agree with Happy Dolphin that there are too many adjectives. That does not mean the writing is bad but a reflection of the times we live in and what is in vogue. I think this has the potential to be a very interesting read. However, I also agree that he would never think of himself as a terrorist. This is a word WE use to descreibe those we don't agree with and their tactics. He would see himself as a warrior or a fighter in a war - not as a terrorist. If you are going to use actual events then you need to be careful and research - I know of no occurence where soldiers mowed down war "protesters" - and while you may wish to humanize the enemy (and I am sorry that is what they are) then don't do it at the cost of demonizing the men and women who are protecting us. Other than that, I have no problem with reading from the POV of this young man and would find it illuminating.

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  7. I'm a huge advocate of controversy in fiction, and this is spot on for a reader like me. As long as both sides of the issue are equally conveyed, I give it a thumbs up. This has the potential to be a powerful story as long as sympathy is obvious for both sides.

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  8. I wanted to know where Samih is. The US? An Islamist country? And what steps is he walking up? Stairs to an embassy? A school? An army base? Perhaps give us a clue.

    And yes, if he considers himself on a holy mission, he would not call himself a terrorist.

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  9. Hmm...I don't mind the subject matter, but the problem here I think is that you start with the MC about to commit a horrible act against what I assume is your target audience. So...It might help to start somewhere else, or perhaps get us to care about the MC and what and why he wants to do before throwing us into the situation. Just saying that he believes something is not enough to really explain why he's doing this. Also, yes, he probably would not think of himself as a terrorist, he'd think of US as the terrorists against the muslim world. Finally, on a technical note, his name is repeated too frequently in this short piece. You're only talking about him so just use the pronoun. And the dip into his thoughts, especially in the first sentence, was jarring. The story is in third person, the thoughts are in first person - a little jarring.

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  10. Hmm, I'm guessing this is a prologue and the MC is not Samih? Either way, I'm certainly interested, but I'd need to see a query or blurb to know where this is going to see if I'd read more. The writing is fine, but the scene is rather cliched, which would matter less if the MC is not Samih.

    I agree he would never call himself a terrorist, you need to think of another description.

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  11. Oh I forgot to add, this seems much more adult than YA.

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  12. It's difficult to care about so much backstory before we even know the character through an in-scene introduction. I'd focus on that and give the backstory in as little increments as possible. I liked the last two paragraphs the most for this reason. I would read a story from a terrorist's point of view, but I want to know why I should and why I should care about him, have a little empathy for him, from the beginning--and in the moment, in scene.

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  13. This one is difficult. I agree with those who say Samih would not describe himself as a terrorist., and I agree that we need to know where he is. The book would have to be extremely well-researched and authentic. I don’t shy away from controversial books, but this might be difficult for me if the whole thing is from Samih’s POV. The writing is very good, but I agree with Kathryn that the fourth paragraph might be a better starting point. It’s difficult to make a judgment on a book with this subject matter without knowing any more about it

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