Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #12

TITLE: The Cure
GENRE: YA Dystopian

Sixteen-year-old Darcie McKenna lives in a society where life is sustained through pharmaceuticals and death is usually early and controlled. When her grandfather dies of "natural causes," he leaves behind clues to a healthy, technology-free community, the discovery of which could offer life to Darcie's dying sister--and death to her entire family if the government finds her first.

I have never seen anyone die outside a hospital. It is always controlled, sterile, painless. For the person dying and for anyone who might be watching.

Great-Daddy Matthias has been alarmingly free of tubes and injections, considering he's past ninety. Even so, I am stunned when the nurse repeats for the third time that Matthias DeFarge has been released. Dad's message was clear as it could be--Great-Daddy was dying and would I please come directly from school to be the second witness.

Death isn't something people get wrong. There is no way to miss the signs, to know when a bodily system, held together for years by advanced medical technology, is finally breaking down. So I can't figure out what's gone wrong.

After glaring at the nurse's blandness, I turn from the sleek receiving station and walk down the scrubbed-white hall the way I'd come. Past quiet rooms of expected death, every patient over sixty and ready to depart. Into the elevator that smells of antiseptic and body odor. Down past fourth floor cardiac, third floor infant extractions, second floor outpatient disease maintenance. When the bacteria-resistant doors slide open onto the first floor, I am reaching for my mobile. No use trying to contact Dad from inside the hospital, where all signals are blocked. I wait until I've reached the courtyard before holding the device to my lips.

"Race McKenna."

Two rings and he answers. "Where are you, Darcie?"


  1. Hooked.

    Your logline is right to the point and a good hook. Just a pickie. You first use 'society' and then letr in the logline use community. I think using society twice (although it repeats) is stronger.

    I got a little confused between great daddy and dad, but I got over it. Consider changing this: For the person dying and for anyone who might be watching. Change to: For the person dying and somewhat less for anyone who might be watching. ... Because she demonstrates anxiety over the process during the rest of the narrative.

  2. I'm hooked! I like the premise of the government (Society - whatever name you put on it) controlling life and death. Nicely done!!

  3. I really liked the "infant extraction" part...even with all the creepy killing-the-old people stuff, the infant line was what made me recoil. I'd read on.

  4. Nicely done! I can only offer a couple of nit-picks as critique: death comes early, but Great Daddy is ninety? and you use death, dying etc, until you get to Matthias has been released. In hospital-ese, that means discharged, not dead, so I got a little confused. I'm sure you clear it up on the next page--which I would already be reading, if it was here :-)

  5. Definitely hooked. One very small quibble: in the third paragraph, it has a strong ending on the word 'wrong' yet it's lessened because you use the same word two sentences up. As I said, it's a small quibble. :)

  6. This reminds me a bit of The Giver (which is one of my all time favorite kid books). I would read on, for sure. This is a fantastic entry.

  7. Your premise intrigued me, but then I felt like this beginning was a tad slow. However, I am hooked and would read on. I'm curious to see where things go!

  8. I am hooked by the premise, but the first line makes me pause. I love the idea that people only die in hospitals, but I think that, if you're going to write from the POV who only knows this, then she can't have a comparison.

    In a society where this is always done, it would be the norm; and why, therefore, would she be commenting on what is normal? You're making your MC hyper-aware of the hegemony in which she's wrapped.

    All that is fine,I just need something to let me know that she has somehow changed already, in a way that lets her be aware of the false norm she's immersed in. I think Lois Lowry's "The Giver" is a great example of this.

  9. Loved this! However, since the intro said death comes early, I assumed young. Over sixty is not young. And her grandfather is over ninety.

    I'd definitely read more.

  10. I'm not exactly hooked yet. The premise reminded me a bit of Soylent Green and a bit of the "sterile future SF movie" genre. (THX-1138 etc.) I'm good with that, and interested enough to keep reading. However, I got a disconnect between her statement about a body held together for years and the fact that she appears to thing age 60 is ancient.

    If that's the case--that 60 is ancient and great-grandfather is an anomaly--a tiny bit of a hint should clear that up.

  11. This one reminded me a bit of Matched and The Giver, with the death and calling it "released." Which are not bad things to emulate, if you did that on purpose.

    But I did feel it was a bit self-contradictory. Death is early, yet the grandfather is ninety? Ninety is old! And death is painless...yet the protrag appears to be pretty anxious about this.

  12. Ooo...delicious sensory detail here with the sights and smells of the hospital. A few points of confusion for me, though.

    *When you say 'released' I think he's being released from the hospital so it's unclear that he has actually died.

    *Also, she gets a call to come to the hospital to be a second witness but she's actually walking OUT of the hospital.

    *Third, she got the call from her dad--so I'm assuming she's meeting him there (I assumed he was the first witness) but then she's walking outside to call him.

    Having to re-frame the context several times in this opening page is enough to disturb the flow of the narrative for me but the premise is so intriguing--I'd read more.

  13. Jodi read my mind; this reminded me of Matched. But to be fair, we only get to see a few paragraphs. If your premise is different, I think you could do far more with it. Grip us!