So I was in the bookstore last night, scoping the new releases, and I found this little display, pimping a couple releases by Local Authors. This is exactly why I started this blog!
The Huaca by Marcia Mickelson, is about some high school kids and an ancient Incan secret.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
The local author thing, mostly. Plus, her cover art and title are good. Bonus points for being a YA novel that doesn’t mention vampires, werewolves, a love triangle, or a rebellion in the synopsis.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I stopped on page six after learning the cause of the feud between the main character and her friends. The novel begins well enough with our 17 year old protagonist getting dressed for school, lamenting said feud and how she’s going to deal with it. A decent hook, with the mystery of what our protag did to earn the ire of the teen girl squad, I just found the actual transgression (I won’t spoil it) to be a bit of a letdown.
That said, the primary reason I stopped reading is that I am clearly not the target audience for this book.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
Mickelson’s opening is rich with characterization and her first-person-narrator protagonist is probably very identifiable for many young readers. As I mentioned, she plants a decent hook with the friend-feud, but that little mystery was resolved before she established the next one. My guess is she was counting on the main character’s new social problems to be the next hook–something which may work better for the intended demographic.
This brings me to a point about hooks I seldom get to address: Before you give the payoff for your hook, you need to introduce another one. As long as your book continues, you need to have something investing the reader, and if you resolve some part of the action before the book is over, make sure you have another device to hook them.
Solve the murder case? Well then we need to catch the murderer, obviously BUT he just found out you know and now he’s plotting something else! See how that works? Otherwise there’s less at stake and the denouement begins too early.
If Mickelson had added a little something extra she might have hooked me despite my not being a teenaged girl.
Even though it didn’t grab me, Huaca is well written and should find a home on the bookshelf of someone more in line with its target demographic.
Check it out, decide for yourself, then let me know what you thought in the comments!