Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #50

TITLE: Devolution
GENRE: YA Dystopian

For a species that had been predicting its own destruction as long as
humanity had, we were decidedly unprepared when it actually happened.
You'd think Hollywood's fascination with various forms of apocalypse
would have been like Survival 101 for the modern man: what to do in
the case of a zombie outbreak (have good cardio), an outbreak of Ebola
(avoid monkeys), takeover by machines (follow the white rabbit), or a
tidal wave washing over the Alps (build an ark). But when The End
marched in with the familiar face of war and the lights went out,
everyone just stood around wondering how our lives had turned into a
late night viewing of The Road Warrior. Except instead of sand and
the Feral Kid, we got snowdrifts and mozzies the size of sparrows. The
world might not be over yet, but it sure the hell ain't what it used
to be.


I walked out of the bathroom and tossed the package of condoms I found to Mikey.
He examined the faded box and waggled his eyebrows at me. "Extra
pleasure!" As if I could care less - it wasn't like I was the one
who'd be using them.

"Spare me the details." I resumed rooting through the contents of the
long-abandoned kitchen on the offside chance of finding something
useful to take back with us. This place looked like it had been
relatively untouched, and the tool shed had yielded a few gems, if
nothing else.

"They're expired." His tone caught my attention more than his words.


  1. I love everything about this one. I wish I could be more constructive, but I think it's great!

  2. I like this, and I think I may have read part of it before...

    Can't figure out where, but it's great!

    Good luck with SA!

  3. I really liked the "Survival 101" bit. I'm typically not interested in dystopian or apocalypse, but I would keep reading this one! Great voice!
    Good luck!

  4. Good stuff. I'd keep reading as well, though I don't know if everyone will pick up on your Matrix allusion.

  5. I'm usually not into dystopian, but I love this. Very tight and clear writing and the dialogue is great. Am definitely hooked!

  6. This was great. I was laughing during the Survival 101 bit, especially 'avoid monkeys'. I'm hooked :-)

  7. I loved the first half, but lost interest in the second half. I felt like it lost the MC's voice.

  8. I like the voice in the beginning, but I felt like it goes on a bit too long, and with too many pop-culture references (TOTALLY might just be my opinion though). "Mozzies" caught me, since it's not an American term, but it's not an issue if (a) this book is to be published down under and/or (b) the narrator is from same.

    I'm not hooked by the second half, but probably only because it's short. A prologue-to-chapter-1 shift is hard to do in 250 words.

    Also, watch your adverbs: decidedly, actually, relatively. I think at least 2 of these can be cut.

  9. While it's one huge paragraph up front, I did like the voice and style of the opening--but it lost something in the second part. (Although I'm curious why his tone catches the MC's attention.)

    I like dystopian, so I'd probably read on a bit, but can't say I'm entirely hooked.

  10. I'd keep reading. The humor is spot on.

  11. Sorry to be at odds with people, but I had some problems. Mostly that, while your "survival 101" is a good, funny idea, I'm not sure that kids this age will get your references. You should probably go out and actually ask some kids. "What's Ebola?" "What does Follow the White Rabbit mean?" "Who is the Road Warrior?" I'll bet no one gets the last one.
    Good writing.

  12. I'd consider reversing these two sections, or putting the first paragraph even later in the book.

    But of course would keep reading.

    PS I'm from the States - I assumed Mozzies was short for mosquitoes, although I'd never heard it before.

  13. Hooked!
    Love your voice and wish I could read more. I have nothing really constructive to say other than that I hope this gets published and to keep up the good work!

    Good luck! :)

  14. I wasn't crazy about the first paragraph. It's long and I didn't get all the references. It's a lot of exposition but I don't know what actually happened to the world at the end of the paragraph. But I liked the idea of the characters scrounging around for supplies. I'm semi-hooked.

  15. So, that "prologuian" first paragraph, while entertaining, isn't going to be a seller for agents. All the research/tinkering I've done tells me they'll say "don't start there...start where the story starts" and all that jazz...bah, bah, bum, bum. Just giving you a heads up. Prologues give most agents the willies. And let's be honest, that's pretty much a prologue.

  16. I love dypstopian, but this didn't work for me. The first parg., while clever, tells me nothing. I have no sense of what the world is like now. Is it a world where we've run out of resources, withering from global warming, the aftermath of nuclear war, a world where were the government is just a front for big business, who really run things?

    And the second half was about condoms he/she had no interest in.

    Perhaps before they enter the building, you could show them wandering through your dystopian world to get there, so we get an idea of what it's like? three or four sentences would go a long way in making this feel more dystopian. And any dialogue they have along the way would help us get to know your characters a bit. And you'd be starting with story rather than explanation.

  17. I enjoyed this. Your voice is strong. I think you could tighten up here and there, but I would definitely keep reading.

  18. I hate prologues.


    Did I mention, HATE?

    However...this is the first prologue I've ever actually really liked. Well...loved, quite frankly.

    When Authoress unveils who I am, you'll see how I've NEVER said this. Ever. Ever ever.

    I'd definitely keep reading.