What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?The author has excellent writing skill. The characters and environments are clearly drawn and incredibly easy for the reader to visualize. But not only that, the author has manages to paint realistic emotions for the characters while balancing exposition, plot advancement and every other element. I was immediately draw into the world of Julia and her issues, emotions and everyday struggles. I felt like I had a connection with her -I cared about her and I wanted to know what was going to happen next to her.
What aspect needs the most work?It's hard to say since this excerpt is so well done. I think there were a few points where the action got a little hazy and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. Also, the supernatural element that seems to be part of this story didn't quite seem to been explained here, or even given a little more attention so the reader would fully understand the main character's other-worldly leanings and the impact that has on the other characters.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?I really enjoyed this. It immediately pulled me in with instant, unexpected conflict and drew me into the main character's world by painting a fascinating and likable picture of her. The emotions conveyed her were particularly wonderful and compelling for the reader.
Given the current publishing market trends, I think this book has tremendous commercial possibilities. Not only is it well-written and have a wonderful main character, but it appears to be a YA paranormal romance, which is one of the hottest genres right now. But, unlike some of the published works in this genre I've read, it's actually good.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?The piece grabs the reader with the first sentence. A tombstone is enough of an attention grabber as it is - but with the image of a person kicking that tombstone - the reader is instantly engaged.
And then this image, "...a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves" - firmly places the reader in the scene.
And THEN - when this person who kicks the tombstone of a person she so very obviously cares about turns out to have wings? The reader has a great deal of interest in figuring out what's going on and exactly what kind of world this story takes place in.
Julia has a very strong voice and while her origins and backstory remain a mystery, she provides an excellent viewpoint for the reader. She may be centuries old, but she seems as new to this place/time as the reader, and her thoughts and experiences do much to help the reader fill in the blanks and feel a part of the story. "...just the feel of someone's gaze, heavy in the darkness. I'd spent enough time here alone to know the difference." Again, gives us detail about Julia and the setting. As does, "Every movement I made was like swimming in mud - the air was thick and heavy."
After accepting that Julia has wings (which took a while), the reader must start to wonder what she is and where she comes from. "Saving Marcy was my reward, and my price, for dying before I was born." This is a lovely phrase - one which both answers one question while asking several more...guaranteeing that the reader's interest level stays high.
What aspect needs the most work?While most of the prose flows very well, sometimes there are clunky phrases that could use some editing. Keeping in mind that this character and the reason not only for her existence but for her presence in the story are as yet unknown to the reader; a smooth flow to the events and details of the story is essential.
"...wings, saying a silent farewell as I closed my eyes. A brief moment of numb nothingness—gone far too fast, no matter how long I clung to the brief time I didn’t have any pain—and I was back to being able to blend in at school and work." This sentence doesn't flow very well - and I had to read it a few times to grasp what was going on. Julia's wings are disappearing, she experiences pain at all times, she tries to blend in with humans, and she works and goes to school. That's too much information for one sentence.
On a minor note, there is a Derek, a Frederick (only later it is made clear they are the same person), and then a razor named Fred. It would be less confusing if even just the razor's name was far different - or at least make for more variety.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?Though admittedly the first mention of "emerald wings" was a bit offputting, the piece has such a strong voice in Julia, and it is so descriptive, that I was able to suspend my disbelief and become fully engaged in the story.
The reader has only been given a few tantalizing details as to who she is, how she came to be, who or what has sent her here, and who Derek/Frederick is...and yet, she is a credible character that the reader can trust.
Even though Marcy is the character that appears to be in the most danger, the reader cares about her (at least for now) only as it relates to Julia's fate. Her mission seems to be to save Marcy...but the stronger message seems to be coming across that if she actually achieves it, Julia will be the one to be saved.
The contrast given between Julia, the centuries old....Sary? and Julia, the teenager who is thrilled to be noticed by a boy, is interesting. Which of these aspects to her is emphasized more remains to be seen.
This is an interesting story, one that certainly leaves the reader curious to learn more of.
Um, can I just add in a little YAY!!!?? Because these were great. I know the first bit isn't perfect, and I can make some small changes to fix things (actually, most of these comments have already been addressed). It just makes me happy that people liked it :) Now, can I get an agent to like it?? That does seem to be the question :)