It's time for the last Pass Or Pages reveal of 2017! We're so grateful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. We hope you can find something to help you in your quest for an agent, even if you don't write middle grade!
Entry #4: MY BEST FRIEND RUNS VENUS
Query:At 12.9 years old [MLS1], Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of kids living across the solar system through the use of robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. [MLS2] Nothing can hurt him this way; the adults all said so. They just never said how to survive middle school when only one person on the planet will talk to him. [MLS3]
Kade will admit, his obsession with numbers might deter 35.7% of kids from hanging out with him. But the bigger issue is his best friend--Princess Tamika of Venus. So her mom almost let a crazed hacker take over everyone's bodies twelve years ago. [MLS4] The queen is locked away, and Tamika herself is really nice. Kade needs to give her reputation a serious reboot. He starts off simple: an interstellar tour using an old teleportation machine that he's reconstructed. But the machine's not rigged for current use, so when Kade fires it up, he unwittingly kills a major security wall and unleashes the same hacker from twelve years ago. Panic rating: ten times infinity. The hacker shuts off all communications with the adults and begins to take control of the royal avatars. If Kade doesn't want to see his best friend used as a puppet, he needs to stop the hacker fast--even if that means waking up on Earth to fight with a body he never realized could be hurt. [MLS5]
MY BEST FRIEND RUNS VENUS (45,000 words) is an upper MG science fiction novel combining the virtual setting of READY PLAYER ONE with the adventurous planet-hopping of JACOB WONDERBAR. Thank you for your time and consideration.
[MLS1]: Haha! I love this.
[MLS2]: This line sparked my interest. Well done!
[MLS3]: Aww, love this!
[MLS4]: Great building/implication of stakes for the world.
[MLS5]: Great stakes and way to end the plot summary. I think the only thing I’d love hashed out a bit more is Kade’s friendship with Tamika.
First 250:It wasn't the first time Kade had hacked the Venusian maintenance system, but it was one of the best. [MLS1] If he had to put a number on it (and there was very little he didn't put a number on), he'd give it a 9.7. The 9.8 and 9.9 scores were reserved for something epic he hadn't thought of yet, and 10.0 was for the day he would finally reprogram how his robotic body looked.
Still, assuming he didn't get caught, his skills today would land him on a totally different planet. Maybe that deserved the 9.8 slot after all. If Tamika would hurry and get here, he could ask for her opinion.
Kade straightened against a metal door embedded in a burnt orange mountainside and flicked his left wing. A line of glowing text scrolled across his view: 5:03:34pm. He'd checked the time fifty-three seconds ago, but whenever he wasn't reading data, he felt lost. The adults called it unhealthy. Healthy people could watch a sunset without calculating its luminosity every thirty seconds, but healthy people sounded boring. Besides, the numbers comforted him. Nobody got weirded out by constantly seeing their own hands, did they? His numbers were just that--an extra set of hands. Or wings. Or whatever.
Kade froze. His sensors detected a deep clunking sound that echoed across Venus's stone-hard surface. Low volume, maybe twenty to thirty decibels. His first thought was that it was a patrol robot, but it was coming too fast. [MLS2]
I like the voice here but just don’t think this is for me.
I want to see this in my inbox stat. Please send the first 50 pages to firstname.lastname@example.org and include Pass Or Pages in the subject line.
[MLS1]: While this paragraph is sweet, I found myself wanting a different opening—something more tangible than scoring his hacking capabilities. Or perhaps in the middle of a scene with the characters moving/doing something?
[MLS2]: This could be a good place to start. I enjoyed the query and voice of the character. Definitely a request for more pages! Please send the query, synopsis, and first 20 pages in the body of an email to email@example.com, with the subject line 'Meg Pass or Pages Request: [TITLE], [age group], [genre].'