Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #44

GENRE: YA apocalyptic action/adventure

Dad always knew the world was going to end.

He prepared us for it. He'd buy truckloads of dried black beans instead of getting us new clothes every school year, and bought me a gun instead of a car on my sweet sixteen. He called himself a prepper. Our neighbors called him crazy.

But he was right. All it takes is one little virus and everyone dies.

"I'm going to the hospital," Dad told me, a couple months after the virus hit. He wore his blue scrubs and carried his duffel, looking for all the world like he was just going in for another day's work. Except for the pistol holstered at his hip.

I remembered the steady baritone of his voice, big hands pulling me into a hug, blue eyes so calm behind his glasses. He thought there was a chance the hospital was still up and running, and had to go see if he could help. "Don't worry, Cora Jane," Dad told me. "I'll be back soon."

That was six months ago.

I smothered the twinge that my heart gave at the memory and hauled myself out of bed, peeling the sweat-soaked sheet from my body. The light of the rising sun beat through my bedroom window, the sky behind it a glowing, clear blue. Not a cloud in sight.

It'd been a month since we'd gotten any rain. I'd put off leaving home as long as I could -- hell, a couple weeks ago I even did a rain dance.


  1. Great first line!

    I would definitely keep reading. You have established a good voice here, and conflict is very present.

    One thing: When her dad leaves for the hospital - Im assuming gobs of people have died, there's looting going on, etc. - I would expect there to be more emotion/drama. More "I'll never see him again" in her head. That would give even more weight to the next line, "That was six months ago."

  2. I agree, love that first line!

    It's hard for me to picture truckloads of black beans... I mean, that's A LOT of beans, where would you even store it all?

    Also, her dad seems so worried about the world ending but then also just is willing to leave after preparing everything and go to the hospital? And what takes him a couple months to decide to leave? I feel like either he'd be super-concerned and leave right away, or he'd be really reluctant and maybe the moral duty finally gets to him, but I didn't see either situation here so it didn't quite click for me.

    The 'that was six months ago" line was intense though!

    I love stories about viruses and pandemics and stuff though so you've definitely go my interest here.

  3. This is great. You nailed it. Cool title, great name for an MC, and punchy, well written stuff.

  4. I really like this. I love the voice. I thought even though it's an apocalyptic story, so dark by nature, I like the comic elements that you added, especially the line about doing a rain dance. The one line that gave me pause was the one that starts, "I smothered the twinge..." I think that it's a mouthful and that when I reread it all, I had to slow down to read it, but hey, it just might be me. I agree with someone up above in the comments about the black beans, I wondered where you would store them too. But anyway, I would most definitely keep reading.

  5. Good voice, but the verb tenses are all over the map.

    I have a hard time believing that a doctor--who should know all about complete proteins--would buy beans but not rice. Is that what Cora Jane has been eating all this time? Her poor stomach!

  6. Super tight writing. I have no criticisms. Definitely want to read more.

  7. Another great opening line! For the most part this is a pretty solid beginning. I'd tweak here and there, though. Cutting "every school year" from the third sentence, for instance. A good line edit will clean up your prose.

  8. I like what you have, but the world building isn't adding up to me. He's a doctor who hasn't been to the hospital in a month after a virus outbreak. Now, without any word that the hospital is still open, he heads there with a gun and a duffle bag, leaving his teen daughter home alone. Your writing is strong, but with world building questions so early, I'm not sure I would keep reading.

  9. Like this...A whole lot! I know preppers and those who poo-poo them (all in my own extended family). I buy this. Feels real. And a medical worker who is a prepper makes it feel like he knows more than he ever let on. Love the voice of the narrator.
    "Rain Dance..." Ha! :)

  10. I don't even like dystopian, but your story really caught my attention.
    The opening line is a good hook.

    Yes, it needs a few line edits and a few word choices need tweaking, BUT
    it is a great start.

    Plot-wise, the part where the dad goes to the hospital as normal didn't ring true. If you give us more reason for him doing this (with the added emotional drama), it would have more impact.

    Love the virus plot.

  11. Love this. Great voice, great world building, great main character. She's been prepared for this, but I'm still excited to see what happens when she leaves her house. Great job.

  12. This has an interesting premise, and reminds me a twinge of Ilsa Bick's "Ashes." The survivalist angle at least, which could be really cool if that's something you focus on.