Friday, November 29, 2013

(41) YA Science Fiction: LIMITLESS

TITLE: Limitless
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Seventeen-year-old NASA intern Cassie Dhatri dreams of space, but in order to win a spot on a top-secret experimental mission, she'll have to outsmart a battery of psychological tests... and sixty-three cutthroat teen geniuses.

A moderately intelligent robot could do my job. Okay, so I realize letting a sixteen-year-old intern anywhere near actual rockets would be irresponsible, but still – NASA was vastly underutilizing my skills.

Not that I was complaining. Because, come on – NASA. I'd mop the floors as long as they let me stay. But I could have been doing so much more than data entry in the legal department at Marshall. I mean, this was where they built the rockets that took men to the moon. Not that you could tell by looking, not anymore.

I worked in a deserted corner of the office. If I leaned way out from the wall, I could just see the back of my nearest coworker's head from across the room. The quiet made me a little nutty, so I usually worked with Beethoven blasting in one ear. It helped keep at least half my brain awake, while I memorized notes in the background of whatever else I was doing.

"Hey, kid!" My coworker Andre's voice snapped me out of my math-trance. I muted my cell just in time to see his scowling face hover over the cubicle wall.

Two weeks ago, I'd gotten bored and found a math error in the payroll, which happened to be Andre's fault. He may have gotten into some trouble over it. "Yes?"

He jabbed his thumb vaguely over his shoulder. "Big boss wants to see you. And you'd better take that thing out of your ear."


  1. I like the sense of immediate conflict between the MC and their coworker, and the NASA-centric story. I might change "math error" to "miscalculation" or simply "error" but that's a small thing here where you have a nice balance between voice and establishing the story.

  2. Yep. The logline hooked me easily, and the narrative voice sealed the deal. This is a character brimming with personality. I'd pick up the book based just on what I've read here so far.

    My only nit would be that I found the line "My coworker Andre's voice..." a bit of a tongue-twister.

    Best of luck with it!

  3. Woof, very hunger-games-esque premise. Well not really, but you know what I mean.

    The first line's biting and jarring--draws me in right away! Awesome! But then I got really thrown off by the tense change in that first paragraph. Since the rest of the passage is past tense, can we put the first two sentences in past, too? "could have done" my job and "I realized." I know and understand that she's in the present, thinking back to the past, and that's why "I realize," and then she tells the story in the past--but that actually acts as a spoiler. By talking present tense, you're telling me she's survived whatever dangers NASA might have thrown at her, and that's no fun. More importantly, even though there's nothing technically WRONG with your usage here, it's jarring and not everyone's going to understand it. Some people get really grrr about that.

    I like the description of the office, the character deets like Beethoven in one ear, and the negative relationship with Andre set up right away. I get your character! Awesome! So yeah, thanks for sharing, and may you get SO MANY BIDS!

  4. This drew me right in and I wanted to know what the Boss was going to say. The only thing that jumped out at me was the tense change in the second paragraph. Otherwise, great job! Good luck!

  5. Wow, I like the intelligent, science/math girl MC taking charge and seeing her potential at NASA. Her authentic and engaging voice amid interesting circumstances endear me to her right away. As mentioned above, conflict with co-worker starts off great. Now, what could the boss want? hmmm... -good job!

  6. Great premise and strong writing, overall. I get the sense that this will be a well-researched book, in addition to being entertaining.

    There were only two niggles for me: the tense shift that several other people have mentioned, and the use of "hover" in paragraph four. It made me picture a disembodied head floating above the cubicle wall.

    Those are minor nitpick, though, in an otherwise excellent entry.

  7. Love this! Just eat up this sort of premise, and the opening delivers. Love the "Vastly under utilizing" comment. I'm curious about what notes she's memorizing, a little more hint of what type of notes is the only thing I would have liked different about this.

  8. Hey, you changed the opening since I critiqued it! It looks nice. *applauds*

    Good luck in the auction; I'll be cheering!

  9. I've read this at least five times, trying to find something helpful to add to the other critiques. Honestly, the logline is clear and intriguing, and the first 250 words have an excellent voice and are totally engaging.

    I did notice that she 17 in the logline and 16 in the second sentence, but that's a tiny inconsistency!

    The only thing the logline left me curious about was her parents, and if they'd be ok with her going on this mission, as that could be an added external conflict.

    Best of luck!

  10. This seems solid. I liked Andre, he seemed to be looking out for her, not holding a grudge. Not sure if I could stomach 63 teenage geniuses, lol, hope they are not all obnoxious.

  11. Fantastic premise, sounds really exciting! And then what's even better is that while the premise is a little fantastical, with it's experimental space missions, the first page grounds us firmly in reality, and that contrast, to me, makes the story even more exciting. I love the voice too. Altogether excellent, I so want to read more!

    My only nitpick was I was a bit confused about her reading notes in the background - notes about what? Is that relevant?

    Good luck!

  12. Hey, there!

    Really nice stuff here, from the logline to the opening excerpt. I love a strong female MC set in the NASA world--very timely considering a movie like "Gravity."

    I already have a terrific sense of the MC from your opening too. She's likable, which is important. Grateful yet bored. Well-meaning but causing unintentional trouble. Smart. Eager. I like her!

    My only concern is that your logline doesn't say enough. I feel like it's only telling half the story. Surely something happens to her once she goes into space? (That's all a spoilery assumption, but...) Is the story really just about the tests she's put through in order to be selected? If there's more, I'd find a way to work it into your pitch.

    But great start. Keep writing and good luck!

  13. This premise is fantastic! You had me at NASA. The voice is super strong on this one.

    Here's my pick: the second line confused me. "letting a 16 yo intern anywhere near the rockets"-- is the narrator saying she wouldn't let 16 yos near them or that the people in charge of her shouldn't let her.

    Good luck!

  14. I love this, really, it's great. Both the logline and the first 250.

    In the interests of supplying actually helpful feedback :) I only have one nitpick.

    I had to read the first two lines twice. The second time I got it, so it may just be me, but the confusion the first time around was that when she mentioned the rockets I was still thinking about what her job I thought her job DID have something to do with rockets. Again, reading it a second time cleared that right up, but FWIW.

    Good luck! :)

  15. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 3, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    60 pages!

  16. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 3, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    100 pages

  17. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 3, 2013 at 11:11 AM




  19. Well, this was wonderful, great job. I, too, had the same nits to pick as others so I'm just going to skip right on over those.

    Love the concept, very current without being a cliche or over-done.

    My only comment would be that I'd like more setting, so we can get a better feel for where she is. At it stands now, it does sometimes take a second reading to figure some things out. But, overall, this is excellent!