12.15.2006

HHCom 9

Jennifer Morgan had always been gorgeous. Men were enchanted by her beauty, not by her brains, and she eagerly took things from them: her high school diploma, her undemanding job, even her expensive car. Now, thanks to an out-of-control virus, she is forced to trade. The infection devours her beauty as it develops her brain.

As her life spins out of control, so do events in the lab that created the virus. Jennifer must fight to reconstruct her relationships with family and friends as her brain reconstructs itself. Meanwhile, researchers struggle to unlock the potential of a virus that has the capacity to maim, but also to cure.

Is the high-stakes game of finding happiness as dangerous — even as deadly — as the high-stakes game of cutting-edge science? Infectious Beauty explores the inner confines of the brain research laboratory — and the inner confusion of the brain of a 32 year old woman who is in the process of being reborn.


The problem is I don't care a fig about Jennifer Morgan. In fact I probably hope she is required to wear a veil for the rest of her life. Someone who has slid by on her looks is boring as cheeze whiz to me. You need something about her that makes her likable.

Plus...she's ugly...so what?? There's no substance here.

15 comments:

xiqay said...

Gee, I sort of like this one. Too bad for author I'm not an agent, just a reader (and writer).

M. Takhallus. said...

I like it too. It feels more screenplay than novel to me, but it's hooky.

randomsome1 said...

Oh noes! She'd have to grow a personality! She'd have to learn to work!

It's not a good thing when the reader immediately turns their nose up at your main character's "trauma."

She's magically speshul enough to have gotten by with never really learning anything, but the story hinges on a research lab? I'm already cringing at her character--please don't tell me the virus magically makes her a scientist.

Crystal Charee said...

This sounds awesome. I would totally read that.

Mig said...

I like it too, but Miss Snark is right again. Need to show that something else is at stake here for the character besides her beauty. The story hints at reconstructing relationships with family and friends, but its not clear whether these relationships existed before the virus, how the character's new condition has afffected those relationships. Use of the word reconstruct implies that there were preexisting quality relationships. Might also benefit from more specificity regarding the relationships in question. For example trying to connect with a sibling that Jennifer has ignored, or a friend that Jennifer did some wrong to, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd read this one. I'd assume that the novel itself would develop the character of Jennifer Morgan well enough for me to care about her.

Wild about Wilde said...

Roger Corman did this one twice - in the fifties and again in the nineties - as a movie called THE WASP WOMAN. Only in the Corman film the lady does more than merely turn ugly. She turns into a wasp. It is also reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's DORIAN GRAY, although in Wilde's story it is the picture which gets old while its subject remains perpetually young.

HawkOwl said...

I was done at the first sentence. And, er, it's one thing to earn a university degree on your back, but a high school diploma? You get that for showing up, so what does beauty have to do with it?

The good side is that the words actually made sentences that made paragraphs that had a meaning. That's better than most of the hooks so far.

December Quinn said...

So how dumb was she? She had to at least be clever enough to know how to use her looks, and at least clever enough for people to believe she wasn't a total moron--male teachers might have passed her because she was beautiful, but there has to be at least one woman at that school who would call bullsh*t.

The hook makes it sound like some "Flowers for Algernon" transformation. Is it that serious?

Greer said...

For a lit-fiction version of this -- and a very good one -- see Jennifer Egan's "Look At Me."

Anonymous said...

I can see some people reading this, I really can. But, I am the kind of reader who buys a book to escape reality. I know call me weird. But, to read something inwhich a woman loses her beauty by a virus makes me sad.
A brain does not reconstruct itself. Now you can probably turn this into something else like she becomes an evil person or she develops a cure, something like that. I would read something in that sense. I hope I helped.

Virginia Miss said...

What interests me here is that the protag actually gains intelligence as she loses her beauty, so this does seem to go beyond the typical "beauty fades" story. However the author has failed to present this compellingly. Perhaps compress the bits about the past, and sum it up briefly (..who's always depended on her looks). Instead, give us more about the ensuing conflict. Cut the cliches "as her life spins out of control" and "high-stakes game"

Benja Fallenstein said...

I had pretty much the same problem as Miss Snark. Jennifer sounds dreadfully boring.

You also don't mention any plot -- only backstory.

If you want ideas for working on this, my advice -- for what it's worth -- would be to talk about what makes the new Jennifer interesting instead of what makes the old Jennifer boring, and to talk about the plot: What's the conflict? Who's the antagonist? Who does what to resolve it?

Number Nine said...

The author speaks:

Thanks for all the comments. It has been a helpful and instructive experience, not only reading Miss Snark and the Snarklings' comments on my hook, but reading the other hooks and comments.

Big thanks to Miss Snark. I can't believe the workload she's dealing with.

The hook obviously needs some work, and it's better that it gets sandblasted now than when I try to use it "fer real".

thraesja said...

The fantasy version of this would be A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony.