Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #13

TITLE: Garrett Gordon vs. The Cyberians
GENRE: MG - Science Fiction

When technology genius and middle school dropout, Garrett Gordon, accidentally sells an unbeatable encryption program to the Russian mafia, he becomes ensnared in a dangerous game – one that he must win, or everyone he cares about will be lost.

 Garrett Gordon typed the five-digit password into his mother's computer on the first try.  She was great, as moms go, but she totally lacked imagination.

This time it was "31588," her wedding anniversary. It'd been a decade since Garrett's dad had left them without so much as a See ya! Garrett was completely over it. I mean, he was only four, after all. And by every appearance, his mom was over it too, but she still held out on the sentimental passwords.

He hated having to use her dinosaur of a machine, and waiting as it grinded and choked on even the smallest chunk of input. Garrett had his own computer - a much, MUCH better one - he had built himself at the end of seventh grade. He used birthday money, which covered the operating system ($98.95) and the tower he found at Goodwill ($15). The rest came from the generous and anonymous hipsters and grandmas of Kickstarter. They helped him raise the rest of the $1500 he needed for components.  The thing about his mom's computer, though, was that it was so obviously an "adult's" computer. So, if Garrett got a wild hair to, let's say, buy three cases of butane lighter fuel, or whatever, and the site conducted a "cookie sample" to see what kind of activity the computer's been up to, they would find all the telltale signs of adulthood: a purchase for sensible shoes at, downloads of romance novels at Amazon, and a Google search for crabgrass killer.


  1. I love the title and premise. I think the MG voice works, with just a couple of exceptions: In the second para, inserting "I mean" took me out of Garrett's POV. In the third para, "wild hair" feels like a very adult phrase that I don't think kids would use.

    The techie details give this a lot of authenticity without being dry. Loved the bit about "cookie samples". Seems like a really fun read for older MG. Good luck!

  2. MG hacker! Yes! Spot on voice.
    First sentence, 3rd para, I'd like you to "show" his hate and frustration of using mom's computer.

  3. The voice is fine, but rather that showing off Garrett's intellect and condescension, I'd move into the plot faster.

    I don't care where he bought his tower or for how much.

    And that cookie tracking bit to trick the website into thinking he's an adult could be said more succinctly. I think you'd lose readers. Even with an MG friendly voice, most tweens are less tech savvy than you'd think.

    Besides, he's a hacker. Why is he buying the OS? It's fairly easy to scoop up Windows keys.

    I'd keep reading, but I'd need to empathize with Garrett quickly.

  4. Good job establishing the voice of a MG techie. The opening paragraph is spot on. It does get weighted down in the final paragraph and I felt a little lost getting through the details. My suggestion is to combine and cut in order to stay in rhythm and pacing of the first part. Tightening this up will also help keep the voice you started with.
    Good luck!

  5. I love you premise and your voice. I think you started in the exact right spot and I love how you bring in the tension of his family situation right away. This sounds like a fun character to get to know. I really don't have any feedback for this. I wish you luck moving forward with this!

    Jamie - Entry #35