It's time for our Teen First Page Critique, a monthly feature here at YA Confidential that lets you get feedback on your manuscript from your target audience: real teen readers.
This month's brave volunteer is Patti Buff, and here is the first page from her YA Paranormal THE CARTUM MALUM
“Polly, we have to get off this plane. Run.” Her mom's blue-gray eyes were nearly popping out of her head. She scooted across the empty aisle seat next to her and opened the overhead compartment of the airplane, her swan neck swiveling side to side as she looked up and down the aisle.
Polly gaped at her mother. They had just settled into their seats, Polly had just opened up her Nintendo and was ready for the seven hour flight to France. She wouldn’t let her break promise, not this time. “You’re imagining things again, Mom. You’re fine.”
Her mom leaned in, breath stinking of stale cigarettes. “Something’s wrong. I don’t know what, but I can feel it. We need go, now.”
Polly shook her arm out of her mother’s pincers. She hadn’t minded her mom’s condition so much when she was younger. Back then it was a game. A drop-what-you’re-doing-and-run type of game. They’d run for miles, or so it seemed to Polly, stopping only when her mom felt safe. Back then, they had leaned against each other for support, catching their breaths, pride shining from their eyes for having escaped the bad guys. But now, Polly was thirteen, old enough to know the bad guys only existed inside her mom’s head. And those figments of her imagination were not going to ruin this trip. “Mom, you promised I’d finally get to see where you were born.”
Her mom’s body shook as she pulled harder on Polly’s arm. “I’ll…I’ll take you next month. I promise.”
Yeah right. Like she would fall for that again.
Here’s what our teens had to say…
LYNSAY: I really like the sort of psychological feel of this. It makes you wonder if it they really are inside her head, or there's really some dangerous thing going on. I would say, don't go so overboard with the metaphors that's it's no longer authentic, but keep it up with those descriptive details (stale cigarettes, describing the running, etc.) Great start!
REBECCA: After reading that first page, I'm highly intrigued. With Polly being 13, I'm guessing it's a Middle Grade and though I hardly read them anymore, I will pick them up from time to time if I like the sound of them and from what I just read, I liked it and I'd definitely read more.
LENNON: It certainly is interesting. It seems like it would be a fascinating read, however I, personally wouldn't read more simply because I have severe difficulty relating to characters who are younger than me
ERICA: The opening line was the part of the page that grabbed me the most. It was intriguing, different, and exciting. What didn't grab me was the final few sentences. I thought everything had built up very well and that just seemed a little less authentic than the rest of the page. I was overall pretty intrigued and would read more. I want to know the situation of where she was born.
Hope this helps! And I hope this feedback is insightful for our readers as well! HUGE thank yous to our SPIES and ANALYSTS and to Patti! I know how scary it can be to put your work out there. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!
We'll be doing another call for first pages in a few weeks. Stay tuned!