Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Hooked? Young Adult #3

TITLE: The Wicked and the Wild
GENRE: YA Romance

Fourteen-year-old Meagan Bubky considers adolescence to be survival of the wickedest and spends her time comparing humans to their counterparts in the wild. When Meagan is forced into yet another new school, she becomes the target of the most dangerous predator she has ever encountered, a jealous teenage girl.  

The first day of school is always a tragic event in my life. The only thing worse is the first day of a new school and today that was my fate. In fact, this would be the fourth new school that I had the pleasure of enrolling in this school year. I deserve some sort of VIP status for my continued patronage of the public school system. If there were such a program, surely I would have earned a notebook, or at the very least, a pencil case by now. But no, all I had to show for my loyalty was a thicker than usual academic file and lower than usual self-esteem. I would prefer the pencil case.

  The problem did not lie solely with my academic abilities. I was actually a pretty decent student. I'd even had the word gifted used once in the same sentence with my name. Some other adjectives were also in that sentence but gifted was the only word I chose to keep.

   No, the problem was a man; a very specific man by the name of Arnie Kramer. Arnie Kramer had decided to leave my mother, Valerie Bumbky, two weeks prior, and like every other man who left my mother, he did it with a total lack of imagination.

 “I’m going out for a cigarette.”

 “I’m going out for a cigarette.” Six little words that I would be asked to repeat a thousand times over the course of the next fourteen days.

“Did he say a cigarette or cigarettes? Was he going to buy a pack or stepping out front to smoke one? Come one, Meagan! Remember, for God sake! It’s very important!!” Valerie shouted at me, holding my face inches from hers.

It wasn’t important. It was the least important part of the equation.


  1. If I were an agent, I probably would have stopped reading here. The first few paragraphs included some awkward tense shifts. (I think "In fact, this would be the fourth new school that I had the pleasure of enrolling in this school year" should be "In fact, this would be the fourth new school that I'd had [or "I had had"] the pleasure of enrolling in this school year," and "I would prefer the pencil case" should have been "I would have preferred the pencil case"). Also, the stuff that she was talking about felt a little mundane, a little forced. I would have liked to hear more about her mother's breakup or, even better, jump right into a scene that would have shown us some of these things so Meagan didn't have to tell us.

    Hope that helps, and good luck to you and THE WICKED AND THE WILD!

  2. I like the premise here, but there's too much backstory up front. I think this would be stronger if you jumped right into the action.

  3. I am intrigued by the log line, but the opening falls a bit flat. When I see a YA beginning with a first day at the new school premise my eyes start to glaze over unless the next bits really elevate it to something different. But this goes right into a kind of boring backstory and I wouldn't keep reading. Your story sounds fun and I am sure there is a more dynamic place to start.

  4. Like the others, I feel the opening paragraph is weak. There's interesting things there--I like the pencil case humor--but it's a poor choice as an opener. One, it's not 'in the moment'-- two paragraphs later we're flashbacking to the reason WHY she's at yet another school. Two, it's cliched as the others stated, and I fear it gives a false impression of Meagan (because of the cliche) that she's going to be a 'moody unhappy school-hating teenager'. Last, the paragraph's info can be woven in-the-moment later. Instead of stating outright she's been to many schools, withhold that until she sees 'another building like all the others' or, have her wince as the principal/councilor on her first day slaps down a two-inch folder.

    Here's what I loved about this page, though, and where I got interested: "I'm going out for a cigarette."

    I laughed aloud in that disbelieving way. And instantly bonded: What. A. Jerk. This set-up let me see her mother's personality, and Meagan's reaction showed me her's. This is the moment I began to feel inside Meagan's world and where I became interested.

    This is where I'd start. Her problem (she thinks!) is a man--but not a love interest (not cliche! yay!), and you instantly go seriously, he went for a cigarette?, and oh man, mom's a mess, and dang, I need to read more. THEN as the scene progresses we can see how this problem escalates into more Meagan-centric issues like yet another school.

    Good luck!

  5. Agree: begin with the cigarette. Begin with the paragraph about how Meagan's life changed because of a man, followed by those six little words, because it's a hilarious paragraph. This is the moment the story came alive to me, as well as Meagan's voice. And her mother's.

    And take this with a grain of salt, but I would strongly suggest approaching the logline from a different angle. I can already tell Meagan isn't quite your average girl which is great, but when I read the logline--comparing her classmates to animals, mean girl nemesis--I couldn't help but think of, well, MEAN GIRLS. In all likelihood, this novel is completely different from the movie, but the logline pitches it as an unfortunate copy.