Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #39

TITLE: The Mother of All Battles
GENRE: Young Adult

She walked like someone who was smoking hot but looked like someone sorely mistaken. Adam knew that wouldn't matter. She'd flashed Byron a warm smile as they passed her in the mall and these days it took little else. Adam grumbed to himself as he realized the damage she'd just inflicted on today's plans. It was spring's first warm day and he wanted to play pickup basketball at the park. The boys were buying the new Skid Row tape from the record store first. But now Adam sensed the gears shifting in Byron's hound dog brain - searching for an excuse to pursue Ms. Warm Smile.

"Hey I'm kind of hungry," he said a few seconds later. "Let's grab something at Mr. Pongs."

But of course thought Adam. "Sure. I'd love some lukwarm chicken and watered down Coke."

If Byron sensed the sarcasm he didn't react.

"Great," he said and charged forward grinning. Adam snuck another glance at today's dream girl before following. She had the plumpness Byron shamelessly relished. He was the only guy Adam knew who preferred the before photos in weight loss infomercials over the skinnier after shots.

Adam walked and muttered but never considered overruling his friend. That's how it worked by Byron. They did stuff for each other. It carried them through seven years of inseparable friendship but now as eighth graders their activities occasionally involved girls to Adam's current dismay.

He liked girls just fine as they said in Georgia but they were a waste of time.


  1. I do enjoy a good YA book told in a male POV, first off, so yay for that. Also I'm intrigued by the premise, wondering if Adam becomes intrigued with a larger girl as well. Yet I still feel as if I'm missing something here. Maybe it's a little too telling instead of showing for my taste? The "he said's" and "he thought's" could be expanded somehow with a few more senses. Just a suggestion though.

  2. On the surface the first sentence sounds intriguing, but does it actually make sense grammatically? "Looked like someone sorely mistaken" has an odd ring to it.

    Also, I agree with Heather above that it'd be great to see more YA with a male POV, but I'm not sure I find Adam's character very appealing. Particularly after the line "He was the only guy Adam knew who preferred the before photos in weight loss infomercials over the skinnier after shots". To me, that translates as, "Adam was flabbergasted that anyone could openly like fat girls". That makes Adam seem pretty mean -- not a character I'd want to spend much more time with.

  3. I agree with EHayes. At this point, I am very unimpressed with Adam. He sounds like a jerk. Also, I would have thought he was older than 8th grade by his choice of wording and reference to "before pictures". I've never known an 8th grade boy to talk like that, but then it's been awhile since I've been around 8th grade boys.

    I think my problem here is that I find Byron more worthwhile than Adam. Maybe that's the point of the story though - maybe this is a story about Adam growing as a person.
    If so, perfect beginning. Right on track.
    I would, at the very least, be interested in seeing the back cover to see what this story is all about!

  4. I love the voice in this and what a great opening line. There's no major conflict yet, but there will be immediate conflict (girl vs basketball) and his voice is strong enough that I'd hang out a while to see where this goes.

    FYI - this may qualify as historical fiction since it takes place about 25 years ago (18 & Life came out in '89). While I may know that, the average teen today does not know when Skid Row came out so there will need to be a point where you state the year, but I like that we got the hint now and can get the details later.

    In reference to earlier comments, I didn't read the plump line as fat shaming, but it's close. You'll need to be careful with out Adam's attitude continues toward girls in the rest of the book.

    Overall, nicely done.

  5. I like the voice and have an immediate sense of the setting and characters. I'd agree that the reference to Skid Row and the record store gave me a clear sense of the time frame, but that might not be as obvious to others. I also didn't like Adam, but I'm willing to follow him along for a while, to see if he redeems himself. Good luck with this!

  6. This needs careful attention to grammar, especially commas. And while the first sentence might be seen in one sense as giving a strong sense of voice, it's also derogatory and doesn't make me particularly care for the speaker.

  7. I like a male POV but I found the first line confusing. I'm not at all sure what you mean by "looked like someone sorely mistaken."
    It promises to be an interesting story.

  8. As much as I like a guy-focused y.a., the writing isn’t quite there.

    The opening lines confused me on first read. "Sorely mistaken" about what? About being hot? Also, "Adam knew that wouldn't matter." Not until reading the rest of the 'graph do I begin to understand what, exactly, wouldn't matter (whether or not she's hot, I assume?). I would suggest slowing down and taking another look at this first paragraph. It's clear the scene is well-composed in your head, but I worry the sentence structure is making the order of events, and their import, a little difficult to understand.

    Some of the sentences toward the end of this passage feel like run-ons, and I wonder whether some commas might help break up the final line.

  9. Boy MCs are a nice change, but as others said, I'm liking Byron more than Adam.

    I get what you mean in the first sentence, but I had to think a second. "looked like someone sorely mistaken" could mean she looked embarrassed, like someone who had made a mistake.

    Typo: grumbed

    Suggest: That's how it worked WITH Byron.

    Suggest: It HAD carried them through seven, boy-only years, but now as eighth graders, girls occasionally joined their activities, to Adam's dismay.

    The last line needs commas (but I don't get the reference to Georgia): He liked girls just fine, as they said in Georgia, but they were a waste of time.