Query Critique: Contemporary YA
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 07 2015
I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the BookEnds Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.
Dear Query Queen,
A text message leads seventeen-year-old Shaun Daley to question what everyone else has taken at face value—that his gifted twin committed suicide.
Torn apart already by grief and his parents’ crumbling marriage, Shaun turns to his brother’s best friend—nerdy, introverted Mira Patel—to help decipher the message.
Mira has her own problems, struggling between unrealistic parental expectations and a sister who breaks every rule in their traditional Indian household. But she helps Shaun track down the ex-classmate who sent the text, only to witness the guy’s death in a freak hit-and-run. Then her sister dies of a drug overdose.
Three deaths—a hit-and-run, a suicide, and the overdose—that share a common link. And, in order to stop a killer clever enough to mask his murders as accidental, Mira and Shaun must find that link and trap him before he finishes them off, too.
My Young Adult contemporary, IMPERFECT LIVES, is told in dual POV and is complete at 56,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
JHF: Thank you for submitting your query. I think this this one, since it’s short, I’m going to give my overall impressions.
My biggest concern is that this doesn’t feel like anything special or different. The entire query feels like it falls a little short to me. I know you meant your opening line to be dramatic, but it wasn’t. It’s a common YA trope (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but because of that it doesn’t have the in-your-face factor that I think you were looking for.
In fact, that’s one of my concerns with the entire query and, therefore, the novel. It feels sort of familiar. It doesn’t have the special oomph or hook that makes it really stand out. I think what this book really is about is, “a killer clever enough to mask his murders as accidental.” While that’s not entirely different, it feels like that’s what is supposed to make this book stand out.
You label this as YA contemporary which disappointed me a little because what I was most excited about was this killer. For that reason I would want it to be suspense, which I assume its not.