Friday, November 28, 2014

(59) YA Science Fiction: TRACKER 220

TITLE: TRACKER220
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

When everyone has a tracking chip in their brain, one glitch threatens the safety and knowledge the network provides. As sixteen-year-old Kaya becomes that glitch, she must choose between life as a lab rat, or a rogue movement that plans on using her to destroy the tracker network.

We were going to get caught. No question about it. Masking your tracker signal got you a date with the authorities at best, and at worst… I didn’t want to think about it. I wasn’t lucky enough to get away with this. I was never that lucky.

Troy grinned and held out the radio wave generator. “Come on, Kaya. You know you want to.”

I shook my head. A few minutes of freedom from the tracker network wasn’t worth the risk. The authorities would brain probe us to check our chips for glitches if they showed up. Not if—when.

Troy waved the box in my face. “You sure? It’s such a rush!”

I shivered despite the blazing bonfire in front of us. “No, I’m good, thanks.”

That little box was trouble. Worse than Pandora’s. My muscles tensed. At least if I refused to disrupt my tracker signal, then I wouldn’t have to lie about breaking the law.

I snuggled up to Harlow, and he put his arm around me. I liked some of Harlow’s friends. But trekking into the woods to watch them attempt to beat his record for longest signal disruption was insanity. Why couldn’t we hang out at the fly-in theater instead? Anything other than pursuing a one-way ticket to tracker juvie.

But they loved the thrill of tempting fate—the ultimate game of chicken. At best, they had about five minutes of interrupted tracker signals before the network alerted the authorities. They’d show up and we’d scatter.

Troy glared at Harlow. “Looks like your girlfriend’s afraid of getting caught.”

27 comments:

  1. Your story sounds really interesting and I thought the logline was quite strong.

    My main comment is that I was a bit confused by the setting. I wasn't really sure where they were. You mentioned a bonfire and a forest, but I couldn't quite picture that, probably because I imagine bonfires as quite large (as opposed to say, a campfire) and then that just seemed like a fire hazard in a forest.

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  2. Your pitch could be tightened.Great opening line. Kaya's nature shines through. I got a sense of place and characters. Great job in capturing YA dialogue. I want to read more. Looking forward to see what agent(s) bid for your work. All the best!

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  3. I'm sorry, but this one didn't grab me, though I liked Kaya's determination to stay free of peer pressure to do something wrong. Also, a picky thing from an old lady, please make sure you use matching pronouns for subject and object in a sentence. For instance: everyone has a tracking chip in their brain. Everyone is singular and their is plural. Please change it to something like "all have...their..." Good luck.

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  4. Great dialogue! But I'm confused by the setting. Where are they? This is an intriguing world, but the reader isn't grounded in it. Also, your writing will be stronger if you use less passive verbs.

    Good luck!

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  5. This is well-written and it's an interesting premise, but nothing happens on this first page. The MC tells us over and over (5 times by my count) that she doesn't want to do what her friends are doing.

    Perhaps show us what her friends are doing. Let us see one of them shut off their box, show us the authorities arriving five minutes later. Show us all the kids scattering. At the very least, move on once the MC let's us know the first time that she doesn't want to do this.

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  6. I'm a little confused. If the wave generator disrupts one person's tracker signal, it doesn't do much good in a group where everyone has one - it would make more sense to disappear alone. If the generator damps all the signals, Kaya's cooperation is moot. And lighting a bonfire seems like a poor way to hide from the authorities.
    I do like Kaya's willingness to think for herself. I would read more to figure out what the kids hope to accomplish.

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  7. The opening pages felt strong to me: good sense of tension, good sense of danger, and the hint of a strong voice which I would read on to find out more about.

    The last part of the pitch, however, reads awkwardly. The parallelism of the sentence is off.

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  8. I'll second Laura's comment about the pitch. If it reads something like, "As sixteen-year-old Kaya becomes that glitch, she must choose between living as a lab rat or joining a rogue movement that plans on using her to destroy the tracker network," then the sentence structure will work. I, too, was confused by the pronoun-antecedent issues in a couple of places. Not only in the instance Sarah pointed out above, but also the third paragraph. When you write, "The authorities would brain probe us to check our chips for glitches if they showed up," does the "they" refer to the authorities or the glitches? It might seem nit-picky, but I don't think it is, since either option changes the stakes a bit. If the arrival of authorities is inevitable, then this secret meeting in the woods becomes riskier for them all. If the glitches are inevitable, then that casts a darker light on this thrill-seeking the kids are doing. Finally, I'd like to see more showing, less telling, and I think fixing some of the issues mentioned here would free up the space to include more action. It's a really interesting premise, and I'd like to read more, but I think it would reel more people in if these minor issues were resolved. I hope I get to read more one day!

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  9. I really liked this. The author did a great job of making me empathize with Kaya - I felt both her nerves and her self-doubt - and in very few words, involved the reader in several classic young adult themes (rebellion, self-doubt, peer pressure, the desire to belong.)

    The setting details mentioned by other reviewers didn't trip me up, but they are good points (e.g. a roaring bonfire probably isn't conducive to most forest settings) but that's easily fixed.

    Great job!

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  10. Oh, fascinating premise. I agree with the above suggestions for tweaking the pitch, as well as the issue with setting. I had a hard time balancing the elevated tech and fly-in theaters with the woods where they're apparently doing this.

    I also would like a more active introduction to the story.

    This is such a cool idea, but I honestly think there's probably a way to make this whole initial moment more immediate. You could start, for example, with one of the friends offering up the wave generator. That would lock us into a moment, and give a reason for our MC to think they're going to get caught. As it stands, I don't think the ambiguity is helping you.

    ~V

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  11. I don't have anything to suggest that hasn't already been said.

    The premise of this is fantastic.

    All the best with it Tuesday!

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  12. I don't have anything to suggest that hasn't already been said.

    The premise of this is fantastic.

    All the best with it Tuesday!

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  13. You've done an excellent job of giving us an idea of who your main character is. Kaya is obviously not a rule breaker, but she's also willing to get into trouble to be with the boy she cares about. I'd be interested in seeing more of the world she lives in. I was a little thrown by the name Harlow for a boy. I'm also curious to see if you take a different slant on the girl-savior YA novel. There are a lot of them out there right now.

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  14. Hi! What a cool concept, and I love the first couple sentences. They set the stakes high and really give the story a great sense of urgency. I'm intrigued by Kaya and the conflict that's boiling between her and her boyfriend's friends.

    I'd echo what others have said above. I felt that this intro perhaps skewed a little far toward "telling" on the "showing vs. telling" spectrum. Because we're being dropped into a new world, I completely understand the impulse to immediately explain the world's rules to the viewer. But I think we need to feel immersed in the setting and the character's voice first - and then more tidbits about the world can be dropped later, when we're already invested in knowing more.

    I agree that I think a really active, "in-the-moment" introduction could work for this scene. Some more physical and concrete descriptions could help - how are the kids positioned around the fire? Where are they? What time of day is it - night, I'm assuming? Great descriptions can really create an atmosphere and pull us into Kaya's voice, as we're seeing the world entirely through her eyes.

    Fun start, and good luck!

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  15. "That little box was trouble. Worse than Pandora’s." Loved these sentences. It was the first I really felt her voice come through. I would love to see the consequences of removing her tracker raised, and would be interested in following her rising need to rebel, to taste a bit of defiance for herself even if she isn't ready as we start the story. Good luck!

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  17. Hi

    A few little things didn't work for me, but mostly it's logic--some of which has been addressed already.

    If they have trackers, wouldn't the 'authorities' know who turned off their tracker and who is with them? And as soon as they turn back on, wouldn't they be easy to track. Doesn't that make scattering kind of useless?

    You may address this later, and it might be a stupid question, but it stopped me from enjoying the opening.

    Also, I have to disagree with Jennifer about the Pandora line. For a lot of teens, that's just a line of jewelry. I don't think it works.

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  18. Hi
    I'm your tweet diva for the contest!
    good luck

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  19. Hi! I like this premise a lot. I bid 75 pages!

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  20. CLOSED! Full goes to Sarah LaPolla.

    (Plus you get a gold star for following the bidding rules so well. :D )

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  21. Someone has to prevent anarchy! :)

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  22. I like the concept but there seem to be a lot of practical issues, as others have pointed out, that would have to be explained pretty soon. Such as, if some kids could develop a masking device this easily, wouldn't that be a big flaw in the tracking system?
    Congrats on the win!

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