Wednesday, January 13, 2010

21 Secret Agent

TITLE: Carrion
GENRE: YA Fiction

James Guan was not quite like other birds. There was his name, of course, James. His mother, a red-faced Guan like himself, had always admired American names. His father had preferred to go with something a little more traditional, but, as is the case in bird tradition, the mother chooses the name of the baby.

Then there were his siblings, or lack thereof. As it was, James was an only child. Birds generally have more than one child, and James always felt a little lonely without brothers or sisters to play with. There was another bird that swam hazily at the edge of James’ memory, but he did not know if it was a sibling or not. He suspected it was, as once, when James’ father had had a little too much to drink at a neighborhood party, he had said something about wishing both of his sons had survived. That was all, though. He couldn’t get his father to say anything else.

And that left the feathers. The young Guan was known to have one of the most beautiful coats of feathers in the school. Unlike his peers, who had coats that ranged from mottled brown to black and white, James’ feathers were an unusual golden color. The beauty of those feathers! Strangers would stop and stare at him as he flew passed, their mouths or beaks agape. James learned to be quick at a young age, as squirrels, ever the hoarders, would make a sport out of trying to pluck the feathers from his back.


  1. I'm confused by this one. It doesn't read like young adult fiction with birds as the characters, behaving like humans, drinking alcohol at parties, etc.

  2. I also found this piece confusing. Is this a shape-shifting story, or an alternate animals-as-people universe? Without reading a brief synopsis or story thumbnail it's hard to comment more specifically.

  3. There's some fun and original details here, but it definitely has a younger feel to it that YA.

  4. I like that someone has a bird or bird shifting type MC, as this isn't as typical. Carrion is a carcass that predators feed on isn't it? So I'm curious as how that will tie in. Maybe it's a kind of bird as well?

    It's a little jumpy, or something doesn't quite hit me right. It's hard to do this in 250, man...

  5. Taking it as I see it, it's written well and the title implies it may be dark.

    I would guess this is a reverse shapeshifter story? A bird who can somehow shapeshift into a human? I'm going out on a limb here - because of his name - James?

    But in all honesty, I don't 'know' what you're intent for the story is. And regardless of what type of story it is, it's missing the problem, or the hint at the problem. What makes this day different? What has gone wrong? What is not normal for this world today?

    I'd read on because it's different and I'd like to see where it goes and what you do with it, but it would have to become obvious soon.

  6. I thought this was a story from a normal bird's point of view (no shapeshifting involved), but in a world where birds have more human-like lives--a humorous story.

    My main thought is that the narrator's voice came across a bit too loud for my taste. That voice also made it come across as more telling and middle grade than YA.

    Have you tried writing this in first person--or in this case first bird. I think the result might be cool and would mute the narrator's voice.

  7. I was confused. Probably wouldn't read further unless I was given more of a clue of what we would be reading.

  8. I'm totally confused. Birds behaving as people, not my thing. They're too human like to be birds, so I would have a hard time imaging them as anything but humans.

    I think this might have more appeal to the MG audience than the YA one. The voice and descriptions are good though.

  9. There are some fun details, but my first reaction was that this was for a much younger audience and I was not particularly intrigued.

  10. I liked the unusual setting/characters. I think I would read on just to see what exactly was going on (is this another world with just birds? are they shape-shifters? etc).

    Some of the wording needs a little more editing, i.e. "Then there were his siblings, or lack thereof. As it was, James was an only child." Maybe something more like "Unlike other birds with multiple chicks, James had no other siblings." I wouldn't use the word child--unless they are shape-shifters.

    Also, saying "beautiful coat" of feathers bothered me. Should it be "plume" maybe? Something more specific to birds.

    Anyway, great idea!