Thursday, July 17, 2008

#83 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: The Darkest Days of Summer
Genre: young adult

I’m trapped in paradise.

Or so my mother told me right before she drove back to Boston.

"Any other kid would be kissing my feet right now." she reminded me once again while she loaded her bag into the car, "You can go swimming, you can go canoeing. You can….uh….practice your relaxation exercises."

I cringed. Just before getting kicked out of Sandford, the school counselor had 'prescribed' relaxation exercises to stave off anxiety. I was supposed to close my eyes and visualize rainbows and kittens and stupid things like that. Of course my mom thought they were the answer to everything, especially when I talked back to her.

"I’d rather die first." I muttered as she slammed the trunk shut.

Bad choice of words. My mother shot me a glance like she might whip out a straitjacket and put it on me right then and there. "Do you realize what that kind of talk does to me?" she said as she slid in the driver’s seat. "Maybe you should come with me after all. I don’t like the thought of you spending the day here by yourself."

"I’ll be fine!" I gritted my teeth. "I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. You know I haven’t had a panic attack for over a month." My eyes darted to the self-help cds in the passenger seat: "Grooviness Matters". Oh God, she was planning to listen to them the entire trip. I’d be a raving fury by the time we got to Boston.


  1. You do a nice job of setting up this kid's dilemma. I don't know if it's a boy or girl yet, but I can definitely feel the kid's pain.
    I'd read on, but I would hope that the whole scene isn't in the car getting where the action really starts.


  2. Maybe, I like the writing and the character but something just isn't clicking to really make me what to read more. Maybe some descriptions of the characters, so I can visualize them and suck into the story more.

  3. It's hard to tell after such a brief sample, but the main character at least sounds like a teenager rather than the adult-in-teen-body that tends to be written.

    I'm not the intended audience, but I think the one you are shooting for will keep reading.

  4. Yes, I like it! Great voice and interesting situation. It appears the kid has some serious issues and I want to know he/she's okay.

  5. Yes(ish)

    He might have a girly sound to his voice, but it could be the way I read this.

    Also, I'm trying to figure out how he'd gotten kicked out of school in summer... *looks confused*

  6. OH! Sorry. I thought I saw something in the snippet that id'd the character as a boy. *looks crosseyed at self*

    "It" (meaning the protag) sounds like a girl.

  7. Maybe.

    You've written this character well. He/She is believable and sympathetic.

    I'd read further to see what happens next before making up my mind.

    There is confusion around the fact that mc is "trapped" in paradise (past tense), and the mother "before she drove" back to Boston (also past tense) and when the following action happens.

    I read it that the conversation is occurring when said mother is about to drive back to Boston leaving mc in paradise alone.

    This assumption is punctured by

    "I’d be a raving fury by the time we got to Boston."

    Is mc being left in paradise or not? Is mum driving back without mc or not? If yes, then why would mc be a raving fury by the time they got to Boston?

    I'd much rather hear what happens to mc stranded alone with canoes and relaxtion exercises than being stuck in the car with mum back to Boston.

    Clarify this for me, and I'm sold.

    Okay, on rereading, I see that the self-help tapes are the nail in the coffin for why she doesn't want to go back to Boston. Got it.

    Anyway, I hope my first reaction helps.

    And if you care, I thought the mc was male.

    Good luck.

  8. Yes, I would read on. I was confused a bit about the MC staying alone all day, but then going to Boston with his/her mother. I wasn't sure if he/she was staying or going.

  9. Yes, I would read more. The MC's voice is clear and unique, and I like the way you've set up the basic conflict without outright stating it. Maybe the mother could use the kid's name so we'd know for certain if the protagonist is male or female.

  10. tentative yes - it depends what happens next!

  11. Tentative no. There are some punctuation problems with the dialogue that bother me. That aside, I do like the voice. Nothing quite hooks me in the opening, so I'd need to know more about the plot before I'd read further.

  12. I liked the tone, and would definitely continue reading. I am confused about the setting, though. How is the MC going to be trapped in paradise, is driving back to Boston with his/her mother an option?

  13. I think the writing is good but I'm not hooked. This isn't my general genre and I'm just not interested in a book full of teen angst.

  14. Yes, so far. I'm interested in what's going on but it would depend on the plot, I guess. I did like the voice and the conflict so far.

    Good luck.


  15. Not hooked.

    The writing was fine, but it's not my genre. I'm not big on emo-kid dramas.

  16. This isn't an immediate yes but it's not a no either. I'd really need to see a pitch to know if I'd want to keep going. There's some nice elements here (the hints at a suicide attempt or at least past ideation, the interplay between mom and kid is done well) but somehow it isn't coming over as sharp as parts of this snippet suggests you're capable of. In a bigger sample it probably wouldn't stick out. I think I'm a little thrown by the opening two lines (and I wondered--they make it sound like she's done dropping the kid off--but then the cd reference at the end makes it sound like they're just setting off. Maybe clarify).

  17. I like the voice here and the MC's character comes through loud and clear for me. I was confused about who's where and in which direction everyone is going. At the beginning I thought the kid had been dropped off already, but then the mom and kid seem to be preparing to get in the car together. Clarify that, perhaps?

  18. Nice voice, nice opening lines, but the punctuation errors reaffirm my feeling that this needs another layer or two of polish to become really hooky.

  19. Yes. I like the voice a lot, and I like the hints at the MC's past. My one caveat is that Mom acted and spoke more like a teenager than an adult.

  20. Not really. Feels like another almost teen suicide story...don't like the mom character much. Do all moms have to be awful in YA?

  21. Sorry. It doesn't work for me.

    The punctuation typos bothered me and the MC just seemed like a smart aleck. Is it male or female?

    The last line threw me -- is the mc going back to Boston too? I thought he/she was going to camp.