Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Critique Session #3

YA SF (dystopian)
Elana Johnson


Dear Ms. Revis,

I read on your blog last week that you are looking for young adult queries to critique. Because of this, I believe you would be interested in my young adult novel, CONTROL ISSUES.

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces.

After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) and exiled to the Badlands—until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors.

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy Bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame ass sentence.

Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

A dystopian novel for young adults, CONTROL ISSUES is complete at 83,000 words. Fans of Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER and Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES will enjoy similar elements, and a strong teen voice. CONTROL ISSUES addresses the topic of teens fulfilling their duty as citizens of society, along with how hard it is to grow up under the expectations of parents and other adults when they're trying to make their life their own.

I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author of the QueryTracker blog by night. If you would like to consider CONTROL ISSUES, I’d be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you. I have included the first ten pages in the body of this email.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Elana Johnson

First 250 words:

Good girls don’t walk with boys. Even if they’re Good boys—and Zenn was the best. He strolled next to me, all military with his hands clasped behind his back, wearing the black uniform of a Forces recruit. His shirt had green stripes on the sleeves where his initials flashed in silver tech lights, probably recording everything. Probably? Who was I kidding? Those damn stripes were definitely recording everything.

Walking through the park in the evening is not technically against the Rules. Good people do it all the time. But walking through the park with a boy could get me in trouble.

When darkness fell, another Rule would be broken.

The whir of a hovercopter echoed high above the trees. In this park, the saplings stood an inch or two taller than me. Some trees in the City of Water are ancient—at least a century old. But the forest is off-limits, and even I know better than to break that Rule.

The filthy charcoal shade of the sky matched the impurities I’d filtered from the lake in class today. I imagined the color to be similar to the factory walls where my dad worked, but I hadn’t seen him for years and had never been there, so I couldn’t really say. People don’t return from the Badlands.

“Vi, I’m glad you stopped by,” Zenn said. His voice was smooth, just like his skin and the perfectly fluid way he walked.
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