Query Critique #18

Today’s query looks at a young adult novel which blends two popular genre’s and examines stakes. 

Submitted Query:

Dear Natasha,

Hiromi, a seventeen-year-old virology intern, holds the secret to saving thousands of people from a deadly virus—if she’s willing to watch her best friend die. (And you have my attention!)

The Konadai virus is a lab-created nightmare of magic and science that turns its victims into flesh-hungry mutants. When Hiromi’s father dies from the disease, she becomes obsessed with finding a cure. (So questions: How did her father contract the disease? Is he a scientist or was he a lab rat they tested on? Are these flesh-hungry mutants basically zombies because that’s where my brain goes. If they are zombies, what makes yours different from all the others?) She ventures beyond the safety of the city walls joined by (with sounds less formal) her friends, Kenji and Tidus, and their military unit. (Why is their military unit going with them?)

During their mission, (Saying it’s a mission makes me think she received permission from the lab to go after her father. Is that the case? If it’s not consider calling it something else) they are attacked by a Konadai and Tidus is bitten. But when he doesn’t produce any infection (I’d say either infectious symptoms or symptoms of infection) symptoms, Hiromi suspects he may hold the key to curing the virus. Kenji tries to convince her to keep their friends’ immunity a secret, fearing the extraction could kill him, but Tidus wants to help. (I’d delete the sentence with Kenji or try to condense it a bit because I think the last sentence is more powerful without Kenji.) Now Hiromi must choose: the lives of thousands or the life of her friend. (The way you have the stakes and the title, you have us set up to know what’s going to happen and don’t feel personal enough to me. Besides what kind of person wouldn’t save all of humanity at the cost of one person?  This makes me question your stakes because the outcome feels predictable. Is there a way to reword it to keep the stakes high without providing an outcome that makes the main character selfish if she doesn’t exploit Tidus’ immunity? The first thing I can think of to do this would be to make it way more personal. For example, if her father simply contracts the virus but hasn’t turned yet, she has a reason to hurry back because now it’s personal to her and about saving her father versus the whole of humanity. Just something to think about.)

SACRIFICE ONE is a young adult sci-fi manuscript (novel) with fantasy elements and a diverse cast, completed at 77,000 words. (Maybe: SACRIFICE ONE is a standalone Young Adult Science-Fiction novel with Fantasy elements complete at 77,000 words. It features dual points of view and a diverse cast. Then you can cut that last sentence and feed directly into It has similar…) It has similar genre blending elements as ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders (Charles Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky — comp titles are Author and then the title in italics). and will appeal to fans of PARTIALS by Dan Wells, NEVER FADE by Alexandra Bracken, and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey. It is a stand-alone told from Hiromi and Kenji’s points of view. (Based on the way you wrote your query, I didn’t realize this. Now I’m curious – what would your query look like if you gave us a paragraph that focuses on Hiromi like this one does and then a paragraph that focuses on Kenji. Consider writing it from Kenji once they go on the mission and we see through Kenji that Tidus is bitten). 

I’m a black female born and raised in Arkansas where my biggest accomplishment was being an extra in my high school’s musical performances. In February, I was accepted as a mentee in Justina Ireland’s Writing in The Margins mentorship program. (congrats!) I also completed the 1st 5 Pages workshop in June hosted by Erin Cashman. (congrats!)

This query has my attention! I would totally read this because of my love of science-fiction and fantasy and I love anything that deals with deadly viruses. Revise and resubmit if you are interested.

What Are Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.