12.20.2006

HH Com 231 (227)

Lurking in the nuclei of a few rare human cells is an as-yet unstudied gene. It is a gene that makes the inheritor crave mammal blood, faint in bright sunlight, and lack a shadow. It is a gene that prevents the bearer from appearing in photographic, digital, or mirror images.
It’s a gene that makes life heck if you’re in junior high and trying to fit in.

Eric Wright is a half-vampire with a problem. Several problems, actually. He can’t tell bloodlust from his rollercoaster adolescent hormones. The cutest girl in first period English wants him to become a vegetarian. And the assistant principal suspends him when he refuses to explain why only his polo shirt and jeans show up in a school security video.

Then Eric’s non-vampire mom, who’s definitely not telling everything she knows, takes him with her on a business trip. To Scotland, where it never stays sunny for very long. The perfect hang out for a vampire. Or several. If only Eric can find one to talk to before he makes any more stupid mistakes....

This is a 10, even from the purse-lipped impossible to please Russian judge.

Why? It's got great energy, it's vivid, it gives the problem, the character, the stakes and it's FUN. Anyone pissing and moaning in the comments trail is getting shipped off to ...Scotland!!!

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ha! I've never read a vampire novel, but I'd read this.

Inkwolf said...

Yeah, this is about the first vampire novel to sound tempting to me at all. Must be Eric's humanity under the undeadity...

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting, but I can't for the life of me see how genetics can cause the lack of a shadow or ability to be photographed. However, I could definately accept a bit of science "hand waving" if the rest of the story holds together as well as this.

Zuleme said...

Sounds good to me too. I read every middle grade and YA book I can get and I'd pick this one up.

Just Me said...

Wheee! A real writer!

Now I understand what you live for, Miss S.

Write on, whoever you are.

Anonymous said...

The security video completely cracked me up.

Writerious said...

Me! Me! I wanna go to Scotland!

Oh, sorry. I forgot to whine first. Shux.

wavybrains said...

Loved it. And I really dislike the vampire trend. I'd read this. Great YA voice. I might have started the hook with paragraph 2, but whatever works for you--and it's clearly working.

Virginia Miss said...

Kudos to the author for hooking Miss Snark! It's well deserved. The writing is assured, and this looks like a fun read.

I LOVE the first paragraph, and the line "He can’t tell bloodlust from his rollercoaster adolescent hormones."

Though I'd like an idea of what problem Eric faces in Scotland.

Good luck with publication.

xiqay said...

A 10 you say?

I liked the writing. I can see why this gets a request for pages.

But trying to fit in is a very trite mid-grade, YA topic. Does being a vampire take it out of that? Well yes. Does it mean I care? Not really.

It's a great hook, just not my type of book.

Congrats on impressing the very-hard-to-impress judge.

xiqay said...

Oh, I forgot to add--do I get that trip to Scotland now?

Anonymous said...

A gene that keeps you from having a shadow?

Stake it. Good thing I like Scotland.

jamiehall said...

This is fun. It has a bouncy tone and an authentic teenager voice.

Anonymous said...

"A gene that keeps you from having a shadow?"

Why not? I've got a gene that keeps me from having hair.

A Paperback Writer said...

Wow. I am so honored to be among those who escaped shredding by the Snark.
Thanks to those who commented.
Yes, I realize that a gene that causes someone to lack a shadow is unrealistic, but so is being a vampire, right?
And Eric's perfectly mortal, but you'll have to read the book to learn all about that.
In the meantime, I will anxiously await the shredding of my first 750 words by the incredible Miss Snark, who is still slaving away over the most valuable writing lesson I've had in several years.

Anonymous said...

I hope Miss snark isn't sipping gin when she Snarks mine. I am, and mine, which I love, is boring me.

katiesandwich said...

It's got great energy, it's vivid, it gives the problem, the character, the stakes...

It gives the stakes! Hee, hee, hee!

Yes, I am easily amused.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a great hee-haw over this. No one objects to the guy being half-vampire (like yeah, that's normal) only to the gene that causes him to leave no shadow.

Come on, folks...pretend you are at the movies and accept the premise for the sake of getting into the story.

Good work, Author. I'd read it.

pws said...

A good hook, to be sure. But not a book I'd pick up. Isn't YA crowded with this kind of thing?
Does 'is there a market' enter into the equation?

HawkOwl said...

Meh. It's competent, but it's very Care Bears and... insubstantial may be the word I'm looking for.

Please mail my plane ticket to General Delivery, Hay River, X0E 1G6.

Xiqay - I call aisle seat.

Twill said...

Sorry, but those "gene" ideas better be Eric's mistaken interpretation. Genes don't warp physical laws.

*Okay, if you want an improved rubber science version, here's one - "The gene has an emergent effect of building an organism which generates electromagnetic anomalies--reduced shadow/pictures etc--and a side effect of burning up the organism's store of iron. Which causes an unfortunate hunger for a replacement source of chelated iron."

Sigh. It's almost credible in a rubbery way.

I'm tempted to go on about why focused light or lenses would engender the effect, bright sunlight would be increasingly painful as iron was depleted, and so on. But, darn it, mirrors would work just like mirrors. You'd need another rubber point about how most animals (including people) had evolved the ability to pierce the electromagnetic interference when they view the person directly, so well they didn't even notice it most of the time.

Did I say it wouldn't work? Never mind.

KD (the other one) said...

heh, ask a Trekkie how that works...I mean a real Trekkie. I'm just in it for the insanity. But yeah. I can explain (sort of) how it's possible for a creature to reflect the light around them so as to be invisible (and shadowless), but I can't explain why they'd be invisible to cameras and mirrors but not to people. Need more Star Trek... ;)

hjauusb: what that romance writer has, to use Osama bin Laden as a character.

Anonymous said...

I was hooked from the first paragraph. Great job, author!

(Poo. Now I don't get to go to Scotland.)

Pisica said...

I'm already IN Scotland, mwahahahaha!!!!!

Admittedly, I don't feel like moaning about this hook.

But I COULD.

December Quinn said...

I love vampires and this sounds fun.

Tattieheid said...

Scotland is only dark in the late Autumn/Winter. I should know I live there.

I would probably read this if just to find out what vampires get up to in Scotland. makes a change from chasing Haggis! :)

Anonymous said...

great. but the sun shines a great deal in scotland, it just doesn't always get that warm.
m.

Alex Adams said...

Vampires *and* Scotland? Sign me up! I love me a good YA book.

archer said...

Whatever the critical equivalent of a cupid's arrow through the heart is, the vegetarian girl thing did it to me. And I can't stand vampire stuff.

I was thinking that if I had Miss Snark's job I'd commit suicide. Now I can see how it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing about the antagonist in here, so i guess that's no hard rule either? Fine by me.
I like this. Good job!

ryan said...

Piss and Moan Piss and Moan this is Crap. Please send me to Scotland. Glasgow or Edinburgh please. Hopefully something around Princess Street.

Anonymous said...

Okay, just hold on minute. Is it or is it not apparent that the voice of this hook is EXACTLY like the voice of every other YA book you pick up at the library? Same brand of teacherly humour, same "light" suspensefulness. That's not a bad thing of course -- what works, works. However, isn't it striking that none of the other crapometer authors managed this feat of simple mimicry? What gives, you guys? Mimic the voice already!

Anonymous said...

If it isnae Scottish, it's crap!

Please send me to Scotland... my family is there and I'd like to visit fer the hoilidays!

LJ

pooks said...

Great hook, sounds like a fun novel.

As a stickler who has been to Scotland a couple of times (in February) and rarely seen it overcast, yeah, I'd make sure I made it the right time of year. But it's still a solid execution of a good concept.

Robert Billing said...

ROTFL! When something is this funny the physics can take a back seat. There's a pratchettesqe sense of fun about this that I can't help but love.

Any chance of a signed copy when it comes out?

ec said...

"I'm having a great hee-haw over this. No one objects to the guy being half-vampire (like yeah, that's normal) only to the gene that causes him to leave no shadow."

Heh. Reminds me of walking out of the theatre after seeing "Independance Day" and hearing one guy say to another, "Oh, like THAT'S realistic! The president of the United States would never fly a fighter jet in combat." Lacking Snark credentials of my own, I resisted (barely) the urge to tap him on the shoulder and ask, "But you're okay with the whole alien invasion thing? And you're cool with Jeff Goldblume's laptop computer interfacing with alien technology--a highly advanced tecnology that, oddly enough, doesn't have a freaking firewall?

thraesja said...

Heh, Ec. I think I met the same guy after Independence Day.

I liked this. I've seen others like it, as this is my genre, but this looks like it may be well done. I'd read it. I assume it is not trying to be pure Sci Fi. In fantasy, I have no problem with a gene having magical properties. So lay off the physics issues. By definition, magic can break the natural laws. Otherwise, it's not magic.

Good luck author, I look forward to reading your pages.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up Stephenie Meyer's *Twilight* at the bookstore, read the half-dozen or so sentences on the back of the book, and showed it to my husband, saying, "Now THAT'S a hook." And I bought it, even though my usual reading tends toward Alice Munro, etc. I might do the same with this one.

Lots of people are fascinated by vampires, farfetched or no. The way Meyer fudged it was evolution: a homo sapiens/homo vampirus split along the lines of the human/Neanderthal divergence. Course that doesn't explain why a genome could be contagious, but like paperback writer says ...

Rachel said...

This sounds cute and fun - I'd definately take a look if it was in bookshops!

Anonymous said...

I loved it!!
I would buy this book in a minute!

Hypergraphia said...

You know, I think I've developed a jealousy streak that I never knew I possessed. I'm sure I have a plethora of, as yet, undiscovered ideas in my head. But find myself going green-eyed over a story idea like this. I liken it to my "why couldn't I have thougt up Harry Potter?" complex. Every writer craves that one good idea that could shoot them over the top. I've seen YA vampire book before, (i think - i just never read one) but I think you are sitting on a potential gold mine. Good luck author!

Anonymous said...

::coughscottwesterfieldcough::

Daniel Barlow said...

"The gene has an emergent effect of building an organism which generates electromagnetic anomalies--reduced shadow/pictures etc--and a side effect of burning up the organism's store of iron. Which causes an unfortunate hunger for a replacement source of chelated iron."

"As you know, Bob, ..."

cm allison said...

Congrats paperback on even interesting me! (I'm not a big vampire or YA reader, but this looked interesting!)

Hypergraphia said...

Anonymous:
I dont' think this is quite like Westerfield's Peeps, just because they have a smiliar 'topic.' I didn't read his latest though, so I couldn't say for certain. I guess I'll have to read, as I am a fan of his Uglies/Pretties trilogy and have been reading with my daughter.

Rei said...

I don't get the stakes. Fun, though, yes. :)

This is the second vampire novel to sound potentially interesting to me. The other was in a previous CoM (or was it EE?) -- the devout Christian vampires at war with the demon-allied catholic church.

j h woodyatt said...

I hate vampire stories, but I gotta agree with Miss Snark. You got a good hook here.

Marti said...

I like it a lot. Strong, clean writing. A clear, confident voice, without a lot of unnecessary verbiage.

Anonymous said...

Congrats getting nods from Miss Snark. Be sure to read MT Anderson's "Thirsty" as your hormones vs. vampirism sounds familiar.

Good luck!

A Paperback Writer said...

I had NO idea that my hook would ever generate such controversy over physics. I am slightly amused. It was never meant to be sci-fi, but I needed some reason why the kid was a vampire -- and it needed to be hereditary. It appears I've opened a can of worms. I'll have to think hard about this one, so thanks, everyone, for pointing this out.
As for the weather in Scotland.... Look, people, I did my homework. I lived in Scotland for 2 separate summers and then later a full year. Yes, the sun shines, but I lived through a summer "heat wave" twice: it never reached 80 degrees F. It's not exactly Arizona in August. Trust me.
I LOVE Scotland, but the saying in Edinburgh was "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes."
I will take into account your suggestions on the gene bit and reading the novel Thirsty (I'm already familiar with Meyer's work, so I know I don't overlap her), but I'm not backing down on Scotland.
And I eagerly await more helpful comments on the first page of the book, as that's where I'm struggling the most. I hope you'll all be offering suggestions then.
And if I criticize my own work, Miss Snark, will you send ME back to Scotland?

Anonymous said...

I HATE vampire stuff and can't for the life of me comprehend what is so fascinating about them. Yuk. BUT ... great job on this hook and congratulations on the 10! A good example, I think, of taking two "overused" concepts and combining them in a way that comes across fresh and interesting.

Best line: "He can't tell bloodlust from his rollercoaster adolescent hormones."

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I wouldn't sweat that gene stuff. Audrey Niffenegger created a guy with a spontaneous time-traveling gene. Didn't hurt her sales any. :)

Xopher said...

I wannit! I'll buy it! I'll read it!