Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #34

TITLE: The End World
GENRE: YA Science-Fiction

If Russell had ordered me three years ago to climb a five story building in ninety-degree weather, I’d have told him to f*** off. By now, I had learned to say “Yes, Sir” like any good Spinner and would’ve climbed a skyscraper, if there had been any left.

“Must be my lucky day,” I muttered as I reached the fourth story. The faded theater sign stood on side of me, most of its plastic letters lost in time.

There was no telling the last movie that was playing before the End World went to hell. Finding similarities and differences between Earth and this dump was a pastime of mine. Researchers said the comparison ratio was seventy-three percent. Who said I had to take their word for it?

I grabbed the rough cement ledge above me and hauled myself up. Across the street, Sal was already lying down, scanning the street with his own NF P90.

Damn, he’s fast.

His voice crackled in my earplant. “Need to lose a few pounds, girlfriend. Soon you won’t be able to climb a speed bump.”

I gave him the finger.

“Love you too, Lana.”

“Just focus, will you,” I hissed in my vocollar, taking his silence as agreement.

Control programmed our earplants and vocollar on the same frequency before a mission. At first, I squirmed at the idea of getting the implants burrowed into my eardrums and vocal cords. I had to admit, they had saved my apple bottom more than once.


  1. I really love the MCs voice in this. It's tough, and slightly sarcastic and i would definitely keep reading.
    i think it needs a little tightening in some spots and i think you're missing a word here:

    "The faded theater sign stood on side of me"

    Should it be "stood on the side of me" or "stood to one side of me"?
    I'm not sure.

    But like i said, i'd keep reading. I really want to know what's going on. Good job!

  2. ^^Agree with that about the missing word. I like this and would keep reading, the voice is interesting, and I like that they're not on Earth, but Lana keeps comparing it to Earth. I think that's something most of us would do in that situation.

  3. This sounds really interesting. I'm pretty much hooked! Liked the protag's attitude and natural resistance to control. Had to re-read "apple bottom". Not a term I'm used to.

  4. Hah! I was also slightly baffled by apple-bottom since it didn't sound like sci-fi slang. But in general I really like this. I like the opening, and her hardness as well as her matter-of-fact acceptance that she has been trained to obey. Makes me curious. You do a great job of world-building without info-dumping, and give just enough information that we get what's going on without undue exposition. I would assume something action-y (is that a word??) is going to happen soon, which is good, because so far not much is going on, but I would definitely keep reading.
    Good luck!
    Dana (#41)

  5. Yes, I'd like to read more.

    I agree with the others - I like MC's attitude; I liked the movement of the piece.

    Good Luck!

  6. I liked the use of the term apple bottom because it gave me a good image of her figure. But that's because I'm familiar with the term. :) Even in books where the heroine isn't supposed to be modelesque, it seems like the author has to belabor the point to get it across whereas here, that phrase is clear.

  7. I'd read more. I like the way you weave the world building naturally into the scene, and I love the MC's attitude.

  8. This is giving me "Legend" vibes (the dystopian thriller by Marie Lu). I LOVE the name Lana, and I like that this tough character is a girl. Nice way to work it in with the dialogue. Apple bottom made me laugh - I kinda like it.

    I'm sure there are little line edits that could tighten the writing, but overall I like this and would keep reading.

  9. Hmm...I think I actually like this. Which is surprising to me because generally I don't go for sci-fi, but the voice is so strong and the whole End World thing intrigues me. I'd read more for sure.

    Great job!

  10. LOVE the first line.

    "The faded theater sign stood on side of me, most of its plastic letters lost in time."
    1. The missing word that a few others have mentioned.
    2. Should it be lost TO time? Rather than IN time? It's sci-fi so when you say things like lost IN time, I start to think you mean that literally. If you DID mean that literally, ignore me ;)

    "I grabbed the rough cement ledge above me and hauled myself up. Across the street, Sal was already lying down, scanning the street with his own NF P90." -- This sentence threw me because I realized I don't really know what's going on. I thought she was climbing the building to meet someone. Is Sal laying on the roof of a building across the street? Or does she see him laying on the ground from her vantage point? I don't think it's necessary to define all unique terms in a fantasy/sci-fi, but I don't have a clue what NF P90 could possibly be. Maybe spell out what the NF stands for? Maybe that would help give me a better sense of what they're doing. I need to feel grounded in what's happening or I feel lost and am likely to give up.

    Love that the MC is a girl (And will agree with an above commenter that this does feel a bit like Legend by Marie Lu--not in content, but in tone--and Lana reminds me of June. Which is good. June is awesome)!

    Give me a few more orienting details to latch on to, and I'm definitely hooked.

    Good luck! :)

  11. I'm sorry to have the dissenting opinion here, but I'm not hooked. The voice is strong, but the story telling element is weak. I'm confused as to what's going on, and the pacing was too fast. Bring us into your world first.

  12. My favorite aspect of this whole piece was the use of the term "apple bottom."

    Things just felt awkward- like I kept stumbling over hiccups as I read. For example, "End World" makes me want to put an "of the" in there. The word vocollar seemed like it needed a hyphen or something. When Sal calls her girlfriend it seems out of place.

    I don't know. It just didn't flow for me.

  13. This opening mostly works for me, and I found myself reading with interest through this sentence, which ended on a natural pause, and felt like the end of a scene within the first chapter:

    “Just focus, will you,” I hissed in my vocollar, taking his silence as agreement.

    After that, I expected to read something significant, and the next 3 sentences felt like an "information dump" I didn't need. Since the rest of the passage was so convincing, I took the term "vocollar" at face value, and didn't even feel like I needed an explanation, at least not at that point. Those final sentences also slowed down the appealing brisk space, and took my attention away from the interaction between the two characters and what they were doing.

    So... I want to read more, and I want to read something in place of those three sentences to keep me reading beyond them.

    I like the "voice" of the main character, and I took her first person narrative as her way of speaking and thinking, so that this sentence did NOT bother me: "The faded theater sign stood on side of me, most of its plastic letters lost in time."

    You may want to reconsider the name, "Lana," because it may make the reader think of Lana Lang.

  14. Same comments as majority of others: strong voice, strong female MC, a few minor omissions - unless intentional. The vocollar thing threw me because it's implanted in her vocal cords and wouldn't be a collar per se. That info dump took me out of the story. If is's SF the reader's going to realize there will be techy things and go along w/o needing explanations. Would want to read more.

  15. Would definitely keep reading - this rocks. The paragraph is the weakest, though.

  16. I think you might have a nice little twist here with the End Times comparison ratio. Great statistic! Everyone always believes a statistic. :)

    I did wonder if this would be different than Divergent and I'm intrigued enough by you focusing on the gadgets and the End Times more than on being a Spinner that I think it will be. I love the MC's personality: she's tough, she knows her flaws, but she's gonna go for it anyway.

    I don't think the first paragraph sets us up quite nicely enough. I wanted the lack of skyscraper comment to be just one of the details you're sharing with us rather than jump right into Russell, etc. I think the first line could be much stronger, especially considering how you're not focusing on the Spinner aspect for the rest of the page.