Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Hooked? Young Adult #2

GENRE: YA Contemporary

An old friend’s suicide attempt forces seventeen-year-old Karina to confront the guilt and grief she buried after her older sister committed suicide almost two years earlier. Told in alternating reverse timelines.

I get the text on Monday night, in the locker room at the Y. My phone chirps in my pocket, but I don’t pull it out. My parents would assume I’m either in the pool or on the road, and none of my friends bother to contact me anymore. I towel off my hair, then stuff my things into my bag. It isn’t until I’m trudging out the door, the last one to leave (as always), that I slide my phone out of my pocket. I don’t recognize the number, but the message makes me trip:

at pearl st bridge. its over

A dozen explanations race through my head—a car died, a race ended, someone just had a baby on the side of the road—but the only one that sticks is also the only explanation I can’t think out loud.
I flick back to the number and remind myself to breathe. The digits gleam in the dim light, but I still can’t place them. The number isn’t in my contacts, and the sender didn’t sign it.

Whoever sent this text didn’t mean to send it to me.

At least that’s what I tell myself as I half jog, half stumble across the parking lot to Lily’s car—my car—the car she left behind. For the first time since I inherited it, I have a hard time getting the key into the lock.


  1. I love this beginning. A seemingly routine evening then one text changes everything. Great suspense. I'm not so sure about the alternating timelines mentioned in the logline, but that may just be my personal preference.

  2. Yes, I'm hooked! Although if a text is that unusual, I wonder why she doesn't pull her phone out right away. But I definitely want to read on, as I assume she's headed to the bridge to find out who it is. I'm also curious about how the alternating timelines work. You know where to find me if you need more eyes on this :).

  3. This is nicely written. Based on the description and your MC's reaction, I'm assuming the cryptic text is a suicide message? That's really my only hang up here. I think it's a little too cryptic for your MC to immediately come to that conclusion. Maybe there is some context that would cause your MC to get tripped up by this message, but at this point, we don't have much context, so her reaction doesn't exactly ring true. I think it either needs to be a clear suicide text (and your MC could react many different ways to that), or if you keep the message cryptic, I would think a slower reaction, more internal debate, makes more sense. Other than that detail, the writing is great, very visual, and I'd keep reading. Good luck!

  4. I'm mostly hooked! The missing piece I think I'd need, to become fully hooked, is just a hint of something that makes Karina more of an individual in this opening page: something that makes her, personally—apart from the plot—worth reading about. I already get a sense of personality, but I'm thinking of some kind of small, specific detail that will subvert my expectations. Then I'm all the way there. :)

    My only other thought is, if they have smartphones (or in many cases, even if they don't), the sentences in a text would auto-capitalize. So when I see lowercase, I either think this is a dated example of texting, or I think the person sending the text intentionally fought with auto-correct to start their sentences in lowercase. Which seems odd given the purpose of the text. Of course, there are ways to turn that off, but most people don't bother. But that's it—great opening!

  5. I like the premise, and most of the execution. The only thing that really slowed me down in reading this is a technical quibble - every sentence in the first paragraph is either compound or complex, and most of them follow the exact same clause-comma-clause pattern. After she gets the text, you break out into a good mix of shorter and longer sentences, but the first paragraph drags.

    Also, knowing that her sister committed suicide, it seems perfectly reasonable that she would go there after getting a suicide-sounding note. :) I like this overall, and would keep reading.

  6. I'm hooked! I'm not usually one for YA contemporary, but the writing is smooth and the premise original. I'd def keep reading.

  7. I am hooked and would keep reading. The character seems interesting and I like lines like "none of my friends bothered to contact me anymore" which speaks of so much backstory untold. It's great! The only stumbling blocks for me were that I thought it was weird instead of driving to the bridge, why would she not immediately try to text or call back the number first? Would be a quicker way to try and solve the mystery then by driving there. And also, present tense ugh. But I guess I am in the minority on that one!

  8. I am agreeing with Amy on the present tense thing. I usually don't say anything, and many of the stories on here are present tense, but they always make me wonder - why are you talking to me now? The character doesn't even know they have a story yet. I think you have great detail in this opening, but sometimes that can be a big detriment when you have other aspects (like the text) that either need more detail surrounding them or a ramp up in the mystery.

    I really like the way you have two stories coming together and I would read on a bit to see how you work out the alternating timeline. That would probably be what would make it or break it with me. Your MC is very interesting and I'm very curious about what happens next! Good luck!

  9. I have some mixed feelings about that text as well! I think it could be better, more impactful. It's like vagueness, paired with a specific location. I think you need to be subtle, but clear, and I'm not getting that. Maybe even swapping the sentences might help? Or, with smart phones these days, you could use geotagging to find someone's location. What if they texted a picture of the view from the bridge with the words "it's over" and she used geotagging to find the person, or just recognized the view? I agree that the punctuation looks dated, and therefore inauthentic. And I agree that her immediate response of assuming suicide, and then appears to going to the bridge just doesn't seem authentic. Even texting a quick "Who is this?", followed by some internal debate, makes more sense. If I get a random text, my first thought is gonna be "who is this random person" before I react to what the text actually says.

    Anyway, only focusing on that important text because the rest is great! Good luck!

  10. I'm definitely hooked and I hope that the MC is headed to the bridge (just in case the text was meant for her) very soon. I like how Lily is mentioned early on.

    My only suggestion is when I read "it's over" I automatically think of a break up, not a baby being delivered.

    Nice work!

  11. Definitely hooked! Love the sense of urgency and the fast pace here. And I personally love the present tense--it really adds to that sense of, "oh my goodness, this is happening right now and can she stop it?" My one suggestion would be to maybe give us a few more subtle details about the setting. She's at the Y, so that tells us something, but even something as simple as the smell or her wet hair being cold on her back would give more sensory cues to pull us in. And what about the weather when she steps outside? That could indicate place and/or time of year. Not that you want to get bogged down in the setting...just enough to make us feel like we're there with her. But I'd definitely read on! Sounds intriguing!