Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blogfest: Blurb Critiques

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th. Head over there to check out the other participants!

Day 5: Blurb Critiques

I'm critiquing these like I would final draft queries. Everything below in white is a submission courtesy of a brave writer. Everything in pink is my comments.


Genre: Upper Middle Grade Adventure


Eccentric debate club champ Tripplehorn Parker is certain he’ll be dead by next week, his body rolling around the stomach of an African beastie. He might be right. While his wildlife-researcher parents are thrilled to be entering the field again, Tripp can only mourn the inevitable loss of his limbs. Unfortunately, nobody will listen to reason from a friendless twelve-year-old, even one with a large vocabulary. The night before leaving home, Tripp receives a cryptic message ending with: Only you can stop them. Where exactly is Parker going? Why is Parker being forced to go along? Why can't his parents just leave him back at home? This is all backstory. Slim it down to a couple concise lines that get the point across.

An eight-fingered woman and her eyepatched sidekick appear to follow the Parkers from America to the Ugandan bush. The guide is a suspicious meanie. The support workers are twitchy. These last two sentences can be cut. Don't mention characters unless they're important. Warnings and symbols continue to appear in Tripp’s backpack, finally prompting him to do a very scary thing. What kind of warnings and symbols are appearing in Tripp's backpack? What does he do about them? He teams up with a Ugandan girl to determine why hippo territory is so popular. This seems extremely random. Clues and village folklore point to a hidden hippo shrine containing power and gold galore. Unfortunately, ancient legend calls for a human sacrifice (or three) to access the treasure. If the shrine is found, the research trip may become a rather uncivilized hunting expedition, with the Parkers as prey. With no podium or moderator in sight, Your voice really shows through in that last bit. I like it. Tripp faces the toughest competitive duo he’s ever encountered: Mother Nature and a herd of really, really bad guys.

There's a good story here. Unfortunately, this is also extremely wordy and you tend to jump from point to point. There's a mysterious eight-fingered woman and her sidekick that is only mentioned once and then never again. It's the same for the guide, the support workers, and the Ugandan girl. What's the very scary thing that the warnings and symbols prompt him to do? Team up with a Ugandan girl to figure out why there are so many people in hippo territory? That doesn't seem like a scary thing. If I saw this in the bookstore, I might add it to be reading list, but I wouldn't buy it right away.

Title: Bix: Son of a (Hired) Gun
Genre: YA Contemp

Bix is just like Percy Jackson except:
He doesn’t have godly powers, although he’s a precision sharp-shooter which works well in the paintball league.
He’s shorter and smaller than the rest of the kids at Steroid High. You know the type, Amazons, CroMags, and Titans. Oh never mind, just like Percy.
He gets the girl—but that could be a problem because her mom might be a double-agent mayor.
His best friend is a lesbian pixie—although that could be same. Jury’s out on Annabeth. Just saying she’s kind of butch and kick-ass. I’m not wholly convinced.
His father’s not a god, but as an assassin he decides who lives or dies.
Cypher isn’t Camp Halfblood although they train kids to shoot straight (Target Zone Paintball Park), discourage computers (no internet), and encourage one-on-one combat (Harvest Paintball Challenge).
He doesn’t have daddy issues because he’s never met his dad. Oh yeah, that’s just like Percy. And finally, when he does meet him, its’ a brief—blink and it’s over moment. Oh yeah, that’s like Percy too.
Never mind, Bix is just like Percy minus the demi-god thing.

This is not a query, this is a comparison of your book to Percy Jackson (which I happen to adore by the way). All I know is that his best friend is a lesbian pixie and his dad's an assassin. Tell me what the book is about. If you want to compare it to Percy Jackson, do it in one line at the end.

At this point, if I was trying to decide if I want to read this or not, I'd be wondering if it's a Percy Jackson clone and pass.


Brittany said...

Great critiques! Especially the line-by-line parts on the first blurb- I should've spent more time on mine but instead I just summed it up at the end.

LynNerd said...

Your critiques are spot on. I don't know if only teens are supposed to be commenting, so I hope I'm not butting in here!

Jess said...

Such a great critique! I can't wait to make some giant cuts and condense/simplify this! Thanks so much :)

laurathewise said...

I liked how you added an "if I was in a bookstore and saw this" reaction.