Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Hooked? Young Adult #27

TITLE: Running Toward Illumia
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Astrea must flee Mist, the land of fog that's always been her home, when an old secret her parents kept threatens her life.

Astrea stalked the pure white creature, wondering how she would live with herself if she caught it. Unicorns were a rare sight in the Mist. This was the first one she’d ever seen. Vapors swirled away from its glittering silver sword of a horn, as if it had the power to dispel the fog entirely.
A red curl tickled her forehead, sticking to the sheen of sweat. The mud caked on her pale skin was starting to dry and crack, and she longed to scratch it off, but she didn’t dare move a muscle and spook her prey.
Her lungs strained against the warm, wet fog. Taking another careful step forward, Astrea gripped the reed, already loaded with a poisoned dart. She was close enough now, the musty smell of sweaty hide ambling through the still air. Its flank twitched, silky white tail slapping away flies.
Silently, she lifted the reed to her lips, her cheeks filling with air. One shot. She wouldn’t have time for another. Her hand shook. Stay true. For the tribe.
“What was that?”
The voice echoed in Astrea’s ears in an odd sort of way. She tensed, willing herself to pick up on the approaching footsteps, but the forest yielded no unusual sounds. If one of the youngers spooked the unicorn, that would be the end of it. Her face grew hot, her lips and grip tightening, but no further sound came.


  1. Log line: This to me comes off as a very generic hook. We need to get a sense of what makes THIS story about a girl fleeing her home after discovering a secret special from the rest.

    I like that you jump straight into her stalking the unicorn and giving us a peek of her internal conflict with doing it. After that, it just sort of drifts away. I am not convinced this is the best scene to jump your story off with.

  2. I also think the hook is too evasive, but it makes me interested. I really liked the suspense in the first paragraphs, and then, when I'm all invested in the story, something else comes and interferes and puts me off the story (the voice). The story doesn't need two unusual things happening on the very first page. It's not grabbing because the reader does not have the time to get completely emerged in the setting that already things happen. Take your time, slowly introducing us to her world and what's usual for her before something else comes. This being said, I see the potential.

  3. I like that we are put right into the action -- Astrea stalking the unicorn -- and the scene is very grounded in physical details as the action unfolds. I realize this is only the first 250 words, but the inherent tension from the first line, that Astrea is trying to catch the unicorn but couldn't live with herself if she actually did, isn't echoed again in this first page. Her inner tension takes a back seat to the outside action of stalking the unicorn and then reacting to the unexpected voice. It might be stronger to establish more of that inner conflict, even just with an added detail or two, before the outsider's voice comes into the scene. I do want to know what happens next.

  4. I think the log line could do better to isn't specific enough and presents her only action in the book is to flee, which isn't particular interesting itself. I also wasn't a fan of the "red curl" tickling her forehead, seemed like a POV shift of someone else describing her, although I did like the description of the caked mud. Made me want to itch lol. Although the writing is good, I don't have much incentive to read on yet.

  5. I loved the immersive writing, especially the inherent tension of hunting a unicorn.

    I do agree with the others re: logline and the red curl of hair sticking out as a POV shift, same for the pale skin. It's a good idea to keep us inside Astrea's head, especially for the beginning.

    I'll admit, I was also really confused when Astrea hears, "What was that?" For some reason, maybe because it's in italics, or the genre is fantasy, I assumed she was suddenly hearing voices in her head and I had to reread it twice to understand. Right before Astrea wonders if the tribe's youngsters are around, I'd at least add a line about the unicorn. Does it react to the noise? Does it suddenly go alert? It'd also be a good opportunity to remind readers of Astrea's inner conflict over shooting that poisonous dart.