Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Desiderium
GENRE: YA Dystopian

A flickering yellow light draws my gaze to the steel band clinging to my wrist. It’s been weeks since I set off my bracelet, but it was bound to happen again sooner or later. Especially since I can’t seem to stop obsessing over how many things I have to do, and how little time there is to do them. Then before I know it, those thoughts become something more—almost, just almost, wanting more time. The next thing I know, the dopamine in my bloodstream is dangerously close to the legal limit. I really need to be more careful.

I distract myself with reining in the loose strands that have escaped my ponytail, and draw in a deep breath. It’s times like this being able to think about nothing at all would really come in handy. For one, I could suppress the temptation to have illegal desires, and on top of that, clearing my head would make it so much easier to survive long days of sitting through classes and hours of work split between two part time jobs. Maybe even enough to survive the next four months until graduation.

“Rhiley!” Someone yells my name across the hall.

My heart leaps out of my chest and it takes all my self-control to not glance at my bracelet. I scan the crowded hallway, and spot a girl in one of my classes waving in my direction. I don’t even want to think about what would happen if someone saw it—if someone suspected me of being the Desiderium.


  1. I'm interested in the idea of a sensor bracelet telling you your chemical balance or even your mental state.

    I wonder if this is a world where everyone has to wear one. Imagine the potential for abuse.

    Of course, what really makes us want to read further is the question, "what's a Desiderium?" The dictionary definition is "an ardent desire or longing; esp: a feeling of loss or grief for something lost." How would a person express this idea to the point where it would actually become a name for him?

  2. I really liked this. The language isn't flashy but it drew me in, and I found myself instantly curious about the bracelet. I would definitely keep reading.

    The only part I didn't like was her (his?) heart leaping our of her chest. I bet you can find a less cliche way to phrase how she felt.

  3. I like the idea of controlling the chemical balances in your body, but I felt very distant from the MC during the narrative.

  4. I would keep reading, even though I'm not sure what is going on. Honestly, though, language and emotion can keep me reading through a lot of confusion (not that there is a lot here).

    At first, I was assuming this was some sort of Kurt Vonnegut/Philip K. Dick world where everyone was "mediated" by a chemical-injecting bracelet. I was fully on board for that idea, but the end shifts it to a different scenario where the MC is someone special.

    I agree with Caitlin on the "heart leaping out". It's pretty cliche, and nothing else that you have here is.

  5. I am intrigued by this and especially by the mention of dopamine and the idea that desires must be suppressed. I think the writing needs some tweaking. For instance, I'd change the beginning of the second paragraph to read: "I tuck several loose strands of hair back into my ponytail, and breath deeply." We don't need explanations like "I distract myself" --I'd rather figure that out from the description. I also wouldn't mind if we had a bit more description of her surroundings before going into the thoughts about being the Desiderium. It seems almost like a too-quick info dump. But I would keep reading! Thanks.

  6. The build up in this is great. The pacing makes me want more, and I like the voice. The mystery of the bracelets is intriguing.

    My problem is with the sentence structure, which seems to get in the way. I love IM, but using it to show actions, dialogue, etc. makes me want to stop reading. Just show him/her pulling back his ponytail, don't tell us.

    Your concept is worth fixing these things for. The tension you've created in 250 words is amazing.

    Also, please give us a hint if Rhiley is male or female.

  7. I agree there is great tension and I'm curious about the bracelet and chemicals it dispenses. But I also felt distant from the main character. I think she's telling us her feelings instead of showing them. Maybe tighten up the internal dialog in this part so the reader is curious about the bracelet and then gets pulled further into the story with some action that is sure to follow.

  8. Sorry, but I’m lost. After that first parg, I was really surprised to see she was sitting in a classroom. I didn’t imagine her anywhere in particular in that first parg, but I never would have guessed a classroom. The first parg has a kind of mysterious tone to it, and then to suddenly jump into the normalcy of a classroom was jarring.

    I didn’t get the dopamine reference in the first parg. Is she talking about the natural dopamine in her body, or illegal drugs? What’s a Desiderium? And why wouldn’t she hide the bracelet if she didn’t want anyone to see it? It was just too vague for me. Others don't seem to have a problem with it, so maybe it's just me.

  9. This idea of desire-monitoring bracelets is intriguing. I think this scene could be longer and more infused with tension rather than introducing the Disiderium reference so soon.