Query Hack: Critique #2 – YA Science Fiction

Dear Query Hack,

Karen, Tim, and Mallory are bored teenagers who have learned to hack their government assigned medical nano-bots as a form of recreational drug. These stims give the teens physical enhancements akin to super-powers, but these new abilities come with a price. They are quickly addictive with severe withdrawal symptoms. At night, they test out their new abilities as they race across rooftops but during the day they try to navigate the absurdities of teenage life.

  • This could just be me personally, but I have troubles with stories that start off as a result of characters’ boredom. I’m wondering if there’s another, stronger motive that could move these teenagers to hack these medical nano-bots?
  • How does hacking these medical bots give the teens powers? Are there medicines inside the robots that the kids are taking? Also, what are the kids’ super powers? I’d love a touch more detail. (In addition, how are the teens able to hack the bots without being caught?)
  • Last, you probably want to give a brief indicator of the setting. Is this contemporary? A futuristic setting? In science fiction (and fantasy), giving a sense of location in a query is very important, as the setting often ties into the motives and stakes later on. 
  • Who’s the protagonist (or “main” protagonist) of these three kids? I’d love to see more voice and specific perspective from your protagonist—what are his/her motives? What does he/she want?

Extreme strength and incredible speed is simple entertainment for the group until they cross Greg. He is a psychotic, vigilante gang leader with an obsession to purge crime from the city with his own brutal style of punishment. He shares these new stimulants with a small group of his underlings to serve him in his quest. Together, they begin to terrorize the city and it is up to Tim and his friends to put a stop to it.

  • You lost me in this sentence: “He shares these new stimulants with a small group of his underlings to serve him in his quest.” Did Greg force the siblings to give him some of the drugs? Moreover, did the siblings side with Greg? If so, what was their reason for doing so? (Self preservation? Shared motives/end goals?)
  • Where is the government/law enforcement in all of this? I’d love to see how they tie into the story and ultimate stakes. 
  • It sounds like Tim is your protagonist? I’d like to get more of his perspective up-front (as I mentioned earlier). 

At 71,146 words, ONE OF THE BROKEN is a cross between William Gibson’s NEUROMANCER & Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER. It is a young adult science fiction tale of biological enhancements, drones, sexual identity, and unrequited love.

  • You don’t need to include an exact word count. Either round up or round down.
  • With comp titles, be careful to use at least one that was published recently to show you’re familiar with today’s market. William Gibson’s NEUROMANCER was published in 1984 and Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER in 2008. Usually, I recommend writers do: OLD TITLE meets NEW TITLE (showing you’ve put a new twist on an old story). If you can, maybe use a comp title published in the last 5 years.
  • I didn’t get a sense of romance being a heavy theme in your story, and I was surprised by the “unrequited love” bit. 

Below I have pasted a synopsis and the first ten pages of ONE OF THE BROKEN so that you can get a feel for my writing style.

Thank you for your time and consideration.