Heather's a dancer. Brandon's a dealer. Billie's twelve years old. This isn't Mister Roger's neighborhood.
When Hurricane Audrey blows into town, the winds of change rip the roof off my house. The rules no longer apply.
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noir, postdiluvian, transgressive, ya
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Yarg ReviewThis novel has a clear, consistent and compelling voice with a strong narrative flow. I was impressed by the ease of the - quite fast - pace, each chapter following with the same confidence. There are powerful themes here and I am sure young adults will appreciate the terse accounts of events. The author certainly doesn't waste word, which makes the ones she uses telling and sometimes memorable. I have no hesitation in backing this and I would expect it to do well n the YA bookshelves, if not the HC one. RosalindA RELATIVE INVASIONSPEECHLESS
YARG ReviewI love the concise pitch. You give just enough info to make the reader want to dive in and find out what this story is all about. Your writing is very good. It's intense and edgy. Your MC has a strong voice. I enjoyed the touches of humor. Sometimes the humor is dark and sarcastic, and it works well in the story (Like, "We don't have a gun between us. Next hurricane, we'll know better.") The fact that you used "fixin," as in "fixin' to go to the store," made me smile. As a Texan, I am always fixin' to do something.I like the pace and the chapter lengths. Readers will keep wanting to turning pages (or scrolling down, as the case may be). I had to go back and re-read a few paragraphs here and there, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. That wasn't because of your writing, which flows really well. I think I just had to wrap my mind around your edgy YA voice. Your target YA audience will love your story. I read the first four chapters, and I think this is excellent. Best wishes!Sara AlleyGhost Town
I read all of this today. So happens I had my son's Kindle Fire and some free time, so I spent it on Last Girl. Very good writing. I flew through the chapters and before I knew it there was no more. I did see some missing periods and a couple of missing words in later chapters, but since I was on the Fire I didn't make notes. This was very well written and I'm sure it will do well. I read it as a reader and wasn't looking for what might need improvement; just taking it for what it was and enjoying it. Best of luck with it!Madison
Evangeline; I just finished reading the 27 chapters of LAST GIRL you have downloaded and I have to say I absolutely love your tone. Going in I wasn't sure this would be something I would like but I truly enjoyed the journey. Thank you. The only complaint I have is that I wish I could read the rest of it. You're on my bookshelf. The best of luck to you.J B Michelson
YARG ReviewI couldn't stop reading your manuscript. I read thru ch 8. Realist writing of teens in today's world. I would have like dived more into the protag's mind, but that's my opinion. Great job in characterizationMari
Yarg review:I've read chapter 1. I'm not a pro by any means, so if you disagree with me, then don't listen to me. Deal?the writing is well done. the sequence of events-cause and effect are handled properly.One question: if she's englsigh..I don't hear the accent in the writing so i'm curious why you left it out..__its been 8 days since Audrey blew in. this through me off because i did not read your pitch. i dont read pitches to be surprised. i do beleive it would benefit by saying hurricane Audrey anyhow.change bug to bugs! good image by the way.it might have been intentional or maybe its the language, but i thought i was reading this through a boys pov and was surprised to learn its a girl.you do portray a harsh environment. i'm not sure if you pumped in enough information as to the nature of the story here because we learned nothing in the conversation between the girls, only that she's english/Indian The story needs to move forward with bits of info to keep pushing it onward and for a chapter one with this kind of dynamics i was surprised you didn't end off stronger.the voice is strong and im not sure of where this is headed or why so i'll return for chapter 2.Nancy
Mightily impressed with this. It has the adrenalin of someone about to take to the stage.
Hi EvangelineI've read all you've posted and I think you write extraordinarily well. This is finely honed, deceptively simple prose. It is fast-paced, brutal at times, but packs in the plot and is rich with metaphor. I particularly liked your description of storm clouds as a "vindictive blanket that smothered the sun and devoured our horizon."Your characterisation and dialogue are great, and I love your principled, self-reliant, misfit heroine. Our immersion in her world is pretty much complete and compelling.I do have some thoughts, and forgive me if I seem to be going to town on your book more than I have in my other reviews. Ironically this is because of the quality of your writing. Your prose is of such clarity that it makes it easy for me to know what I like, and see where I'm less convinced.I see Lola as a middle-class to posh English girl (boarding schools in cathedral cities aren't for the lower orders) who doesn't remember England fondly and is marooned in a lower class American world. She should be a misfit there (brown skinned in a white neighbourhood, posh, English) but despite this, or because of it, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Heather. Her self-reliance is brought to the fore by the hurricane and its aftermath, and this, coupled with her principles, sets her on a path to seek vengeance for Shelby.She straddles two worlds: the storm damaged neighbourhood with its colourful and excellently imagined residents; and the school with a more familiar mix of jocks, mean girl cheer-leaders, emo kids etc.Nothing made me think twice until I got to chapter 16, where the girls revisit conversations they have had 'time and time again'. I'm not sure whether that is a valid way to deal with holes in the narrative, or whether it simply serves to highlight the holes. Also, Imelda didn't convince me, and I thought Lola's assessment of her fashion sense was a bit glib.Chapter 20 - 'Days merge. Weeks pass unnoticed." Where the hell are her parents?! I'm not really convinced by this abandonment.Chapter 21 - I'm still not convinced by Imelda. And would Heather say 'counter-intuitive' in the circumstances?Chapter 23 - Not sure Lola would say 'good grief no' to a teacher like that. It sounds a bit self-consciously contrived.By the time I finished reading (and I would love to read more) I was wondering about Lola's two worlds. To me, the neighbourhood seems better realised and more interesting, the school and Shelby's rape more of a device to unleash Lola's vengeance. Heather is real to me, I like her. Shelby less so, and I kind of blinked in disbelief when I read it was her best friend who was raped to death. That's bordering on an outrage too far, especially given Shelby's willing participation in the party games - would she behave like that after what happened to her friend? Besides which, if I was Shelby's mum, I would so NOT allow her to stay over with a girl who is not only living on her own, but next door to a family I knew I didn't like!I realise that my take on the story is coloured by having read only part of it. Aside from what Lola is going to do next, you have a lot of threads to pull together, and I'd love to know which are real plot and which red herrings; eg the significance of the twins' box; the fallout from the death of Aerosmith; why Lola dislikes England/what happened there; where the hell her parents are; Billie; and the whole point of poor Imelda, whom I seem to have taken against.Finally, just a point about your cover - if it's Lola, why doesn't she have brown skin? Or is she not the Last Girl?Anyway, thanks for a cracking read. I've backed the book and wish you luck with it. I think you're doing to do very well.Caroline
YARG detailed notes to end Chapter 9.If these notes are useful, I’ll keep going with them. If not, I’ll keep reading anyway.Wretched colonials…the ‘wretched’ feels a little awkward in this girl’s mouth.You mention the shootout at the elementary school at the edge of the subdivision – I know we’re talking about a disaster area, and I’m not sure what happened after Katrina, but if 2 cops are killed I would have thought (a) the entire area would have been locked down for days, but perhaps they’ve all moved on, (b) even without the news, wouldn’t people have known such a big thing had happened? I’m not looking to quibble, it’s more that a cop getting killed is such big deal – capital offense right? – and yet it seems treated a little casually.The cardboard sign outside the shop. Korean shop maybe, might be a misspelling (bataries) and they probably would have listed what food (or food categories) they do have, trying to sell something that nobody wants, rather than saying ‘very little food.’In the conversation about Katrina and NO, I would have expected more assertion of fact, i.e., so not “I think” and not “one of the many reasons” (which also sounds rather grown up.)I’d drop the champagne after Cristal…and is that still current? I thought they might be on Remy now, and that may be passé too (it’s not my scene, I drink lots of cheap stuff.)“It’s not very hard at all to cook up a batch of meth” – the ‘not very hard’ doesn’t quite sound like Heather’s voice. So I looked back and saw that she’s often quite thoughtful and well-spoken…so I could be wrong in suggesting this change.CH5: …”Night coming down early upon…” – I think ‘on’ instead of ‘upon’ just for how it reads, but you’re probably technically correct. “My beer is warm in my hand” – I think you might have contracted to ‘beer’s.’ Not a big deal in this instance.Ch6: She should be careful burying her hands under the pillow with a knife there, maybe she places her hands strategically or something.“I waited for sleep to claim me.” You could drop the ‘to claim me’ which is a tad conventional for you.This is a really interesting chapter – booze, drugs, sex, voyeurism, a storm, a knife, a stranger. I’m wondering if this marks a turning point, a realization of some sort, perhaps that this is a decline, a kind of Lord of the Flies moment???Would the UK readers know Cheerios? They might assume they’re something else – I like the childhood reference, like the reference to Narnia (closer to children than adults) – but Rice Krispies and Cornflakes are maybe more widely known.Ch7 or 8: “A girl can’t be too careful these days…” as the suburbs are replacing the war-zone, this line feels like it needs to recognize that (i.e., not really the suburbs yet) and I think reminded me of a similar line much earlier on.“…sounds like you need help.” Certainly possible, wouldn’t she try a more tentative approach? This interchange could be more powerful without words like ‘silly’ and ‘intentions.’ I think it could be harsher, more staccato back and forth. My experience of difficult conversations, breakthrough conversations, is that they’re difficult, then someone snaps and says something awful and then there’s a new relationship. Too often (not with you) it skips that ‘snap’ of something awful.“OK” or ‘okay’? Not sure if it matters.Contraction on “What has she done?” would be more natural.I wonder if it would be better to cite a specific brand of sanitary towels, explain what they are, rather than use the generic term.At the end of Ch9 she listens to a conversation between Heather and the twins. Given she’s listening through a window (assuming it’s closed because of the heat) to people talking outside the house next door, wouldn’t she more likely just be able to hear fragments – about the box, the threat. Or maybe just say she can hear them clearly, even though the twins are trying to be conciliatory by not threatening to take the matter of the box further. I dunno, maybe I’m over-thinking this.
A YARG reviewA gritty, modernist Lord of the Flies (with older characters). Gems on every page. Hugely energetic, the creation of a very real, yet very strange, world. Backed this before, just YARGed up to end Chapter 9 for minor notes, in subsequent postings.TSWSThe Theory Of My Wonders (soon to be ‘8 Wonders.’)
YARG ReviewThis is great, a really powerful and exciting read. I'm only on chapter 4 but looking forward to the rest. Your style is unlike anything I've ever read, harsh and real and unapologetic. I can't yet comment on the plot as I am just at the beginning, but this is going on my bookshelf!
I only read the first few chapters but really enjoyed that the beginning of the book, and throughout, is action packed. There are some simple but interesting twists like the MC's ethnic background and nationality. Even though you clearly explain that there was a hurricane, the novel was very suspenseful and kept me wondering if this was post-apocalyptic or not.I will definitely continue to read more and find the book well written and edited.
A Huge Wave Of Energy. Love It.Thanks.
Evie,I've read the first 4 chapters of Last Girl. It's less my thing than Starshy, but good stuff all the same. On the shelf it goes! A timely story for this new bad-storm-every-year age. Nice balance of dark humor and gritty, post-disaster realism. These kids are doing whatever they have to to survive, which means they have to grow even faster than they already were -- but the details remind us how young they are: junk food and parties and buying fruit and vitamins almost as an afterthought. It says something about the protagonist that she does have that thought. She seems smart and competent, but has typical teenage insecurities about her looks and origins. She's sympathetic and easy to relate to.The narrative is full of great lines and nice bits: marionette on crank; black as the devil's digestive tract; wiener dogs named for Aerosmith; "I would have stopped at four and named them for Zeppelin."; It isn't even pierced.This kind of stuff makes the characters and settings really come alive.I'm usually wary of first-person/present-tense narration, but you handle it extremely well. In this kind of story where everything is fragile and day-to-day, the immediacy of present-tense really works well, and the protagonist's outsider voice is both interesting and fitting. Oddly enough, the only part that jarred was when Heather and Billie were talking about New Orleans after Katrina. Their lines sounded more like narration than dialogue. It may just be that those lines need to be baked a little longer so they're more part of the story than dropped-in facts.Good editing -- I didn't find any typos or anything! A pleasure to read.Karen EisenbreyCRANE'S WAYENDURANCETIME SQUARED
As usual, you leave me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what's going to happen next! Ugh, okay, so there's not a whole lot I can say here. This is brilliant. Your characters are riveting, edgy, and hardcore. You leave nothing to be desired in the wake of the war zone, the drugs, the parties, the soul searching and friendships that grow from people from very different cultures from England to wrong side of the tracks of the States. Lola is tough, she doesn't give an inch and refuses to relinquish control. She barely lets you in, but she shows cracks in her heavy armor to let you know she's been hurt and she knows how to deal with things- no matter what those things are.Minor things: The first few lines in chapter one threw me a little out of the story before I started. I don't know why but having jolt and bolt within two sentences of each other just annoyed me. I'm a little crazy like that. Also, in chapter 20 in the dialogue that starts "Thanks." She beams. "I would like. What do I need to bring?" I feel like it should be I would like that. I didn't really notice anything else, but I'm not a grammar nazi especially once I'm immersed into a story. Other things, I don't feel like the voice of the story matches the fact that Lola is English. I mean there's words thrown in and all, but...maybe I've been hanging around foreigners too much, but the voice doesn't ring true for an English person. Also, when she tells the teacher about the differences between England and America, she talks a lot about the generalities and the languages, but honestly it surprised me how many little things and well everything changes when you move from America to Europe. I don't know if the same thing is true for someone moving to Europe to America. I haven't been to England yet, so I can stretch my imagination and let it. Honestly, if your audience is American. It won't matter (They probably won't even notice.)Otherwise, wow...power-punching, challenge the system, never fail. Thanks for sharing this. Love the fact Lola was reading Divergent.-Christian Rogue (Darkness Rising)
YARG ReviewHi Evie,Shelved this - God girl, you can write! I've read all you've uploaded but now I have so many questions - not sure yet what the theme is, or what we're being driven towards but as this is only a partial upload that's fine because your writing is strong, brutal at times, and I trust that I am being steered somewhere pretty damn important. I can't believe you finished at the point where Lola wants revenge! Is this the crux of the novel I'm wondering? I'm probably way off, but I don't care, it's still a bloody good read. And what's the hurricane got to do with it? Is it the necessary stasis for all this madness to occur or is it more symbolic?High stars from me.Nik Silver BulletBlackthorn
YARG reviewHi Evie, I’ve read all you’ve posted of Last Girl. I usually stay away from these kinds of reads because they depress me, but I really wanted to take a look at your writing, and was not disappointed. You certainly have a way with words. This is very good writing. The plot has left me thoughtful. At first, I kept expecting something to happen, wondering where it was all leading to. As I kept reading, the story became, for me, something of a testimonial of survival. For a while that’s what it felt like, like your MC is trying to find a way to survive while going with the flow of everything she’s dealing with. Now that Shelby has been introduced, I again get the feeling that this is leading to something big. I wonder if the box, Shelby and the rape house will all be connected somehowI particularly like Lola’s insight of the situations and characters around her. She is so very observant.I found only one typo in chapter 25:“Beer. Wine. Tequilia. Margarita mix.” (Tequila)Top stars from me.L-EBO
Last Girl is a rollicking read. I really liked Lola and her quirky narration. The storline has all the elements of youthful calamity set in the aftermath of Hurricane Audrey. There's plenty of well-rounded characters; a disgruntled young Billie with a secret or three, the Twins, Heather who doubles as a stripper and Brandon, atypical dickhead male in a female dominated plot. The dogs in their varying forms are hilarious. I liked Lola's English/Pakistani background and the play on her 'Englishness' against back-lot American South. There's a nice sexy thread throughout with a big lick of optimism in a challenging, dismantled world. Evangeline, I really enjoyed Last Girl - totally entertaining and more-ish. I rated it high stars and wish you much success. Best regards, Andrew Esposito / Killing Paradise
YARG review.Hi Evie,I can't believe its taken me so long to read this. This is some good writing. And then some. Really, really enjoyed it. Lola is such a great character, why aren't there more of these great female characters, and more of these great reads sitting in the top 100 on Amazon. I read a lot, I mean I devour books. Love them, read all kinds, but you know a good read when the only thing pulling you away from it is when your six year old climbs into a full bath fully clothed. Needless to say, after he was dry and clothed again I went straight back to the ipad to finish it.So can't give much more praise than that. Excellent stuff. I shall shelve when I next change me ol' bookshelf. And that doesn't happen too often.Cheers for the great read. Oh and one miniscule typo in chapter twenty three ... Since Shelby and I aren't going, they don't (point )their guns on us... not sure if that is the word missing, but it needs something there. Not much of a review, but what more is there to say.. Jx
YARG ReviewHey Evangeline,I read the first two chapters and it was very good. I like how you start the novel with a lot of intensity. It made me want to keep reading to see if something had exploded or if someone has broken into the house--very good. Super sketchy town though after the Hurricane! I didn't find anything that I could really point out as a critique so great job! You develop the characters well with giving a little information about them here and there and I liked your descriptions--I felt like I could see it all playing out in my head. The only thing was that it read more like fiction then young adult to me. It could be just me though!Anyway, I like it!SarahSapphire
Hi Evangeline,I've had your book 'Last Girl' on my WL for a while and only just got round to reading it.I read the first seven chapters and really enjoyed your writing. It kept me on the edge of my seat. It is scary but realistic that anarchy can develop after a national disaster like this, just as it did with Hurricane Katrina.I liked the fact that the MC was fresh from England, and is still sussing out her American friends, as the reader is doing. I also like the very human feelings Heather has of envying the twins because of their lifestyle and possessions, and how the girls try and piece together their family history. Billy, very street-wise for her age, is a very unpredictable character. You don't know what she would do next. I liked the scene in the store with the cherios.Brilliant writing so top stars and deserves backing.Carol jefferies(The Witch of Fleet Street)(From a Prince to a Pauper)
Funny and sexy as others have said - fresh and irreverent truthful in the way only good fiction can be
Last Girl ch. 1 to 14Dipped into this to have a look at a couple of chapters and ended up reading 14. I love (or hate) the characters you've created and, although this genre is not in my comfort zone, I found the dialogue very believable and, even when some of it went over my head, it didn't detract from the enjoyment of reading.Two comments.Firstly, in chapter 3 when Lola borrows the guy's laptop at the store to check on her emails - no indication is given as to whether or not she finds them or what they say. I found this to be an irritating non-event and spent the rest of the chapter and the beginning of 4 wondering. Of course in 4 I then found she'd had an email from her father. Personally I would prefer some explanation, no matter how brief, as to what she finds when she searches for her emails in ch. 3.Overall, I'm just beginning to wonder by chapter 14 what the storyline is here. I thought that, because of the repeated mention of the oriental box which Brandon may or may not have stolen, this was going to be the central plot, but it's disappeared and now I'm thinking maybe it's Billie and her past. The uncertainty over where this story is leading is the one thing that would make me unsure about continuing. Maybe that's just me, maybe it's irrelevant. I do know that this is excellent, error free writing, which has kept me reading 14 chapters in a genre I don't usually read. 6 stars for the quality of the writing and onto my watchlist. JanetJanet/HelenThe Stranger In My Life
Hi Evangeline, (YARG review) as you know I was a fan of Starshy. So I'm really interested to see 'Last Girl'So Here goes.I'm not sure if there should be two distancers in your opening sentence. May be..... seems to. There may be a stronger way of saying this. Even just start at ' the sound..'?I'd go with my' immediate thought', because you say first and only seem odd when you then tell us the list of thoughts- get out of house, neighbours house blown up, fire going to spread,no time.I bet and I'm betting three sentences apart, could you change one?I had some time confusion at ' I wasn't sleeping when the power went out again.' Maybe ' I wasn't sleeping when the power had gone ....'?I imagine she'd be woken by the dog humping her leg, not wake and then notice?Chap 2: I like her eyes being a century old, but I wonder does it lose its impact when you repeat to us later that they are ancient?'Ransack the kitchen' has connotations of wrecking it, I don't think they did that, did they? Scour the kitchen for food?'or possibly her fathers?' Is this giving away what could be a good punchline later when Billie tells them the high heels were in the fathers closetAre the twins going to feature a lot in the rest of the book? If so, great back story given interestingly, if not , maybe it's just a bit too much info.Great idea for a story. I love the cross cultural aspects. Billie has some serious issues, I look forward to seeing why. Clever writing and a work well worth developing. I will be back for more. Let me know if these are the type of comments you are looking for.
Beautifully written, cool, funny, sexy, with not a word out of place.However: like others who have commented I'm having difficulty finding the centre of interest. Things happen, some of them quite nasty, but you keen easing up on the tension where the reader wants to see it racked up. The fact that there are functioning police who can be relied on to take a reasonable attitude means that your characters have a safety-net for whatever trouble they get in. Steal a car, and the police will let you off because you had to do that in order to survive. Slash someone with a knife, and then sit on the curb and wait for the police to come. Every time this happens you have to introduce a new threat.You are a natural writer with huge gifts. All you need now is plot: a sense that this is going somewhere. And then it will.
I just realized that I had been reading your story and liked it, but haven't actually voted for it yet. Funny, that.
I enjoyed the read, the great turns of phrase - Angry glandular giant. The writing had momentum and rhythm, which I liked. I could imagine your setting from the great descriptive writing. What I found disconcerting was that I kept checking back to see if I had missed something, which is jarring, and pulled me out of the story. I didn't know who the MC was. Gender didn't come up until the end of the first chapter, too late for me. CH5 I found out her age, and the last chapter until her name came up. I didn't know who Mark was when he first appeared (unless I missed it), and the paragraph with Brandon and Mark... and then Mark and Brandon... was confusing and I didn't know for sure whose sister Paige was. All of that is easy to fix, though. What needs work is identifying what is at stake for your MC. I don't know why you are writing about her, but I want to, and I want to know in the first or second chapter what this story is about. I want to know what she does, but more importantly I want to know why she does it. I really enjoyed the writing and want to read more about those characters. I loved Aerosmith - that was brilliant.
YARG review:First, a very minor observation. In the opening two sentences of the book you use "jolt" and "bolt" which introduces the reader to a odd rhyming cadence. Maybe you did it deliberately because it amused you. But in that flash of second when I first started reading I wondered if this was a story to be filled with hopping and popping, sopping and mopping, and running and gunning. The story isn't, but the opening rhyme is distracting so you might want to consider dropping the "bolt" and just have it read "Jerking upright--a marionette on crank"That is about the only comment I intend to make on style and grammar. My focus will be on the broader narrative arch.Second observation: it is odd that the main character's name doesn't come out until the very last chapter provided. It likely was a deliberate choice, but the effect leads to a sense of reader detachment from the protagonist. More on that later.Your writing strength is a strong authorial voice, a rich sense of place, and earthy descriptions. Your talents in this regard grant you the ability to write very engaging and vivid scenes. However, when we step back problems begin to emerge.First, there is no plot. There is a setting--and a very interesting setting at that (post disaster city)--and there are interesting characters, but it reads as if you threw interesting characters in an interesting setting and you simply let them bang around to see what will develop. It feels like nothing is really driving the story.I make this comment based upon the limited section of the story you have shared. It occurs to me you may be opening the story at a slow pace and the developing narrative will take on more driving force later but unfortunately I can't judge that. In the portion of the story you have shared, it could be summarized, "People bum around in post disaster city." I started out being curious what would happen. Then I became curious what would happen when it seemed like nothing would happen. Then I started to feel bored as things continued to not happen. It finally ends where it seems like something has happened in the confrontation and fight, but I am still not sure if something has happened in the larger narrative plot sense, or if this is just another well written scene of minor drama which ultimately leads nowhere. And it is not at all clear what kind of problem this is building toward.I realize you are developing something with the talk about the box that the twins find so important, (which made me wonder if we are about to take a right turn into some paranormal fantasy world) but whatever you will eventually develop is coming along so slowly that at the point you leave off the story there is still a big question mark over what kind of plot we have. That is a bad place to be at when we have reached this point in the story progression.Thinking this over, I realized it may all stem from your development--or lack thereof--regarding the main character. Our Heroine lacks any real problems, and so the story lacks forward momentum. The disarray of the city is an annoyance and the threat of physical harm is mentioned but not experienced. Lola is painted in vague terms. She is a person, but a person without the larger problems of life, and until the last chapter provided is a person without a name, without a mother, and practically without a father. She is a teenage girl without the problems of such a life.As a narrative character, she functions something like Mr. Lockwood or Nelly in Wuthering Heights where they acted as the narrative recipients of the story and ostensibly are partakers of the story but in practice are just a narrative device. Likewise, Lola functions as a narrative device, occupying the place of a stand-in for the author, observing the world for us. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this narrative device but it does instill a certain reader distance from the story and I think in this case it is damaging your reader engagement with the story. Like Lola, we become observers. It is from this position that the lack of plot movement and emotional involvement becomes exceptionally noticeable. What is the conflict in this story--what crisis is looking for resolution?If Lola was struggling for survival, we would naturally anticipate this story being about the contest and success of survival. If Lola had a conflict with her father we could expect this story to take her from the place of alienation to reconciliation. If Lola was filled with the angst of "Coming of Age" we could expect this to be a coming of age story. But Lola is remarkably comfortable in her own skin for a girl of her age, and she has no real burning problems or conflicts to be resolved. So instead of us, as readers, being focused on Lola's problems we--like her--end up sitting with our beer and wondering what story is going to develop in the neighbourhood.It really hurts the impact of your story. You have a great setup and seem to let it all slide. If Lola was being actively stalked by some man in the darkness of each night--that would make the story a nail biter. If Lola had problems with the police--they want to know where her father is, what she is doing alone, etc. That would give the story conflict and suspense. (If she had a stalker and problems with the police that would be double trouble.) If she had conflict with her father that would give us something to want to see resolved. If she struggled with loneliness, isolation, rejection, fear, doubt, anger--toward life, friends, father, or mother, that would give us something to see her overcome. But Lola is one cool collected cookie, emotionally an island unto herself. Lola doesn't give any drive to the story.If you gave Lola a richer sense of character and problems--instead of simply functioning as a stand in for the authorial voice--I think drive and direction to your plot would naturally follow.I think your story has great potential. It has an excellent setting, and interesting characters. But the plot is either too slow in developing, or simply not existent enough, and your protagonist too much of an empty shadow compared to the living problems and quirks of your secondary characters. If you can strengthen the weak spots I think you will end up with a rock solid story.I hope those thoughts help.Keep writing,Rundy
YARG Hi Evangeline,Last Girl was an enjoyable read - very well written. I thought you had a really good opening chapter which established what was happening and introduced the characters very well. You have some nice imagery 'black as the devil's digestive tract' and 'nipples a danger to low flying craft' I could go on...Billy is an interesting character, wise beyond her years. I enjoyed the supermarket trip. Lola seems to have Billy's measure from very early on. She is the one who spots the danger first in Ch12. I really liked the way you did the fight scene here - a brilliant bit of writing.I didn't have any issues with it apart from Lola's Americanisms - there seems to be a lot of discussion of that on here - I'm OK with the way she talks, it's just some of the things that she thinks. I can imagine a sixteen year old wanting to put on an American accent and use the right words so that she'd fit in, but when it's in her head wouldn't she be more English? Equally I can see how you might not want to do that if you're thinking of your target audience. In Ch 8 you have 'I can't imagine being Heather' twice quite close together. HIgh stars from me - I would read more if there was more!Pippa
EvangelineI don't think I'm quite the target audience for this fiction - but I thought I would give it a shot. All I can say is that there is no better writing on here; you have a real talent and I wish you all the luck you will not need.David
YARG ok ok i was just going through the list and i saw a few peeps saing how kick butt your book is and dude they were so right.. i like the charecters ok i don't v=care if ya swear or not but here is a slight more descriptive way to say doing it that may help for a more dramatic effect use it or don't it is up to you i promise not to be offended but ok brandon fucking could be best of - banging the life out of him or say nailing him as if it were the last pleasure she would ever have- she ached for it like an addict on a withdrawl night ? just a suggestion my stories aren't well wriiten so take it or leave it but i really enjoyed the book or if you really want you could always do like say that skany little whore climed on him like a moth to a flame with an un-natural hunger"
YARGHey TB--I've read through the first seven chapters and was hooked after the first. You have an engaging story, fascinating characters, and an interesting premise. There were no noticeable errors or hiccups in your writing. Everything melded and flowed cleanly. Your descriptions were spot on--just enough and never overdone. I'm giving you high stars. I know this will do well. Geneva
Hi Evangeline,Once again I am blown away by your writing. The same mastery and thought that I saw put into "Starshy," I now recognize again in "Last Girl." Your descriptions are great: succinct and effective. Not short enough to be rushed and not long enough to drag on annoyingly --- which also makes a good contribution to your spot-on pacing. Your tone also revealed a lot indirectly about your narrator, which was fantastic; everybody loves subtle characterization! The way you crafted your characters, they slipped into the head of the reader and stuck there instead of forcing their way in.The one thing I noticed was that I didn't get a very clear idea of exactly who the narrator was. I finished reading Chapter 1 and I wasn't one hundred percent sure that I knew your main character's age, gender, or even name. Of course, I could have just overlooked the name or misinterpreted a part where the character was named, but you get the idea. I didn't know who I was trying to envision.Apart from that, though, I really don't think I have any other comments to offer at this point. So far this looks like a very skillfully written book with an interesting premise. Even after reading just your pitches, I was already interested because a tornado "ripping the roof off of my house" is a unique idea that not a lot of people think to write about. Even if this is just a contributing factor to your overall message or isn't THE event that your book is centered around, it's still certain to draw the reader in.Overall, I think this is looking great. High stars, and I plan to back it.Laura DzubayLife According to the Dead
I won't identify the UK/US issues as your MC appears to be British and would 'speak' UK. But if you decide you want to Americanize it, there are a number of opportunities. Just let me know and I'll comb back through.I love reading your writing. Gargling chainsaws. I won't soon forget that one, and of course I enjoy reading about the power of that awesome hurricane. What concerns me here is structure. I don't have a clear feeling about what could happen to this assortment of people. The pitches don't offer enough clues and if there are clues in the first twelve chapters I've missed them. You do achieve a terrific sense of disconnection, which I think the story needs and which fits with the hurricane and the overall setting, but I think you also need to hand out a few threads for us to follow forward.Also, at this point, I have many questions and few answers. No one appears to have any parents. You offer a bit of explanation for the Strode family (I imagine those parents seldom appear) but it seems odd that your MC--an immigrant--lacks adult supervision or supervision of any sort. I think there might be a crazy old man or woman in the cul-de-sac, someone not a teenager. The grittiness is fine, but there's an awful lot of beer for kids this young. (Don't you love these crazy Americans? It's not the meth, or the graphic sex in front of the brother, or the knife weilding little sis. No. I'm commenting on the beer.) These questions would keep me--an adult book-lover--reading, but I'm not sure if my struggling readers would keep going.I'll definitely want to read more if you post more.~AudreyB
Excited to read! =) Loved StarShy
Hi EvangelineYou truly are a very tallented writer. Though this is not aimed at me as a reader I thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far. I see some of your critics don't like your MC but I like her. I can only imagine what it must be like in the aftermath of a hurricane. Living here in Britain one cannot truly comprehend what it must actually be. I can only imagine it to be some kind of hell. You use some strong language but hey what YA doesn't use these words themselves, good on you for not holding back. There was nothing I found to critique which is unusual as I go through others work with a fine tooth-comb. High stars from me. As you are one of the top five talent spotters here it would be silly of me not to ask you to have a peek at my Tales for Children and maybe leave a comment on it.Thanks in advance.Brian.
The first line could do with some work. They always say don't start with a dream and yet that is exactly what you have done. 'It may be imagination but the sound of the explosion seems to jolt my bed...' Would that entire thought go through your head as you awoke? Also, using the word 'seem' is a bit vague. Either the bed jolted or it didn't. I really think you need to work on this opening.Moving on, there were a couple of sentences that I thought could do with better punctuation, but that wasn't a major problem. I liked the theme of natural disaster and survival. As for characterization: Your protagonist seems heroic with a knife under her pillow but apart from that she has few qualities to make the reader like her, in my opinion. I once read a Harper Collins review on here that basically said that an author needed compelling, likable characters in a story. I find nothing likable about your protagonist, but that is only my opinion... of course, the Ed may view them differently to me.I wish you all the best with your novel. I think you have a great concept which you would do well to develop a bit more.
YARG‘Jesus H Christ on a cracker.’ – great line.I love all the little details – the One Direction top. ‘If Aerosmith are loose again…’ and ‘her nipples are a danger to low-flying craft.’ All very amusing.And I read the first three chapters and have literally nothing constructive to say, think it's really polished. I'm really loving it. I like the MCs voice and, while I think she's a horror, I like Billie as an addition to the group. It's my type of story-line and more importantly it's something I'd have loved as a YA.Think people shy away from writing things that are too gritty for YA, but I'd moved out of YA by 14 because the books were far too young for my liking. Hell, at 14 I was reading real-life stories about Heroin addicts, child prostitutes and criminal psychologists. Anyway, will be back for more :) On my WL and have a sprinkling of stars in the meantime.Arriane
I like the idea of a kind of dystopean society situation caused by the aftermath of a hurricane rather than the general breakdown of civilisation-as-we-know- it. Don't know if this is YA, maybe older YA. The cooking up meth in the bath and the twin's dad's high heels might be a bit out of their experience unless they've led very exciting lives.It's a strong, lively read. I'm the wrong age group to try this out on though - Led Zepplin yes, but I've never even heard of the Aero thingies. Being English I liked the wrong kind of Indian, and Dead President Park is great. Arse is definitely right.
Hi Evangeline- I read and enjoyed the first twelve chapters of "Last Girl". The writing is excellent but seemingly aimless. However, I must remind myself that we are only ~12k into the story. I will not be surprised if something great develops.That the MC keeps a knife under her pillow tells us a great deal about her (and her situation) right off the bat. Very good!"The kids next door live another day and I spend one more night without power." - Symbolism, perhaps? Or maybe not- I guess when you say "power" you really do mean the electricity. But if you do mean for it to be symbolic, you need to reinforce it later in the chapter- tell us why she is powerless."Pocket-sized hate machine" - nice. "The winds of change blew my roof off and the old rules don't apply." - excellent. Your hard-hitting and cynical style reminds me of the Travis McGee novels I loved as a young man. I think there are too many contractions, though. Contractions are fine for dialog but do your prose no favors. Write like an adult and stop using them."...the twins would have every right to be mad. I could wonder why I'm not, but there's no point." - The MC seems pretty darn mad to me. Do you even realize how much anger there is in your writing? I have completed only a couple of chapters but am hoping that you will eventually settle in and tone it down a bit. Anger and sarcasm get old quickly and I am not liking her very much, yet. On the other hand, it does seem authentic, considering what she is going through.I will say, though, that the first-person perspective seems perfect for your writing style.Maybe you need to add another character, an anti-Billie, as it were- someone who is obnoxiously upbeat? It might balance things out and provide opportunity for some humorous moments."Good job we're such a close family." - do you mean "Good thing we're such a close family"?"This is something I'm not supposed to see." - Good! I finally feel something for someone, even if it is just Billie. And then, "I wish my father was here." Again, I am experiencing empathy, this time for the MC. But do I even know her name, yet? I am not a big fan of pop-culture references. Just the way I am. My take on it is that writers who use pop references want to add some descriptive flavor to their writing but are too lazy to actually describe anything, so they insert things they think readers will be able to connect with simply by name. Maybe you could care less, but think about someone reading your novel twenty years from now. Will they have any idea what you are talking about? You are a good writer. Try writing for the ages.Eww! In chapter eight, the MC is in the bathtub and thinking about her dad, and she has a "stirring" between her legs?"RICH BITCHES AND SNITCHES END UP IN DITCHES" - Ah, good! Some conflict! Can it be that this crazy story is finally going to pick a direction and go somewhere? And what is the deal with the missing Chinese box? Conflict and mystery, both? Cool!And what the hell is the matter with you? Hershey's is awesome! "The point of her blade slashes across the stunned twin's nut brown stomach, decapitating the rabbit as it goes." - This is very good. In fact, the entire episode in the cul-de-sac is very well executed. I want to know more about Billie, though. What could possibly have made a twelve year old girl so psychopathic? I hope you tell us.So, anyway, I like it and look forward to reading more. Cheers!SJ
Evangaline. Well this is it then. I think you have written well here and so much so to keep the reader want to remain in the guts of this book. There is a good narrative here with all the makings of a good story. The pace is superb also and with that and your descriptive voice I can see this being so successful. I am going to be scoring this high as I loved reading it and could read it all night longSean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean
I'm not really sure what material young adults are used to reading these days. It's changed a lot since my day. Realising the type of TV, films, video games and internet that they're exposed to growing up, I suppose they need fast action, extreme characters, drama, sex and violence. That's exactly what your story gives them.I know some people do live like the characters you portray and things do go tits-up after any kind of disaster, so the harshness of this story is not quite as bad as it first seems, to an oldie like me.I picked up on how you use different words to say the same thing, but not be repetitive. I wouldn't have noticed but for your comments to me earlier.I was confused by the first half of chapter one, so I read it again. I am still confused with it. How many times did Lola wake up? Was it the same night? Was it the end of the story at the beginning? I thought some of it was maybe a dream, but dismissed that idea. I continued and found the rest of the upload easy to understand story and character-wise.The American youth language and technical stuff was a bit over my head, but the book isn't aimed at my age group. I got it, though it broke up the flow.I can tell there's going to be a lot more trouble especially with Billy.It's nice to know that it's not all shouting, thieving, fucking and violence, with the story focusing on the intriguing missing box and it's mysterious contents.I couldn't see anything that I can advise you with. You're far more experienced at writing than I am and you know what your target audience wants and how to give them it.Jes.
This is really good. I've never put too much thought into what life would be like after a hurricane. I like how the people here realize how serious their situation is, yet deal with it as if it's just another day. They still hold on to the same beliefs and prejudices.It might be 'cause I'm English, but I didn't think 'arse' needed explaining... from context it's pretty clear what was meant, even if you don't know what an arse is. But, I'm English and I know already, so to me it would be obvious. I'd ask an American if it needs to be said.
YARG reviewThought I'd give this one a read, seeing as I already know you're a talented writer. This obviously didn't disappoint. There is a thick layer of humour and wit, and thought I found some things hard to understand, it didn't really take away from the reading experience. If I had more time, I'd read on.Here are my real-time notes:Chapter 1- Always good to start off with a bit of explosion, hah! I did believe someone's lab had actually blown up though, so maybe you should make that clearer?- Love ‘black as the devil’s digestive tract’! Many other instances that I've laughed out loud, but I can't be bothered mentioning them all...-I'm left wondering what this War Zone actually is, and what they're doing, and why - I'm bursting with questions here. Hopefully I'll get them answered soon.Chapter 2- I seriously have nothing to say about this one. Lots of great details and quick-witted thoughts that made me laugh out loud, the last sentence being one of them. I still don't really know what's going on, but some details suggests that people are on the run, or something. Evacuating from the storm, maybe. Anyway, still a great chapter!Overall, I found this to be entertaining and well-written. You're a talented writer and I have no doubts that you'll be published in the near future. High stars for now!I think you have read some of my book before, but I'd really appreciate another read, or of later chapters. When you have the time, of course.Thanks!Sabina FrostAnnie Get Your Ghost (Thanks for the title suggestion, by the way! It kind of grew on me, haha)
I have read quite a bit of your book and although I am not very good at critiques, being new to all this and grammatically challenged, I'll try. I like your quick wit and use of language. The English and American contrasts in language, to me, were the funniest bits. It reminded me of the American woman in friends, who kept saying, "My Mobiiiile" and "arrrse" (Stiflers's mom) :)At least you try to explain the language and terminology confusion in your writing; like when you pronounce garargge garrige.Although your pitch mentions the hurricane, the way your story opened, still led me to believe someone's drugs lab had exploded to begin with, so it was a believable analogy.I found the present tense fine and didn't really notice you wandering off from it, but again, I'm not expert.My favourite ditties were: "waterfalls and shit" I love sticking shit on the end of things myself! :)Mentions of Heather's boobs, cleaning one's teeth with beer, and the devil's digestive tract - eeww!I found your book very funny all in all and I get the sense that the humour isn't forced and comes naturally to you. Very good read. I will try to read more after the postman comes and I have waded through an array of Valentine's cards - I wish!
Evie,A YARG review of your new offering. I’ve been looking forward to checking out your new book, and I was not disappointed. I read the first three chapters closely and offer up the following:Chapter 1:-There’s something weird going on with the tenses. P1 is clumsily present, but the "jerked" in P2 is past. They jar so close together.-C1, P2, Crank, that’s quite old fashioned. Is this 1970's? I thought you meant on “a crank” at first. You mean speed, ice, meth, whatevs. Of course, you use meth right after this, but still…-C1, P3, I’m on a roll here. Who puts a knife under their pillow? That’s quite dangerous. Personally, I like to keep one hand under the pillow at night. Ouch. Why not under the mattress where I keep my guns?-C1, P12, for first person, would the MC know with certainty “That was the explosion…”, not “that must have been the explosion…”-Toward the end, “We’re the only people on the close…” Is it close or coast? Close confuses me.-Right below, tighten up “is clinging” to “clings”-Interesting little factoid at the end. Chapter 2:-Solid stuff. Nothing comes to mind until I get to a question for you: “force five”. Never heard that one. It’s always “category five,” I thought.-That’s it. Nothing else to comment on. Good stuff.Chapter 3:-C3, P1, “The Toyota crawls by the curb…” sounds weird to me. Crawls maybe, as in goes slow, but the 'by the curb' part adds nothing for me. Also “of our road” is basically unnecessary. And, why pick on the insurance companies? That’s not true, they are quite generous, especially if you have flood insurance.-C3, P2, “let it again” seems more English slang. I guess that works since your MC is English, though she doesn’t often think in fluent Brit. Obviously we would say rent, or lease.-I’m starting to wonder why the MC is home alone. There was some talk early on about a dad that may or may not come home and rarely calls. How about a mother or siblings? Did I miss anything? Some additional backstory would be nice. -Toward the end, you’re back to slang. Trolley vs. shopping cart. And then arse.-Quirky end to the chapter about staring at the stomach. If there’s a message there, I don’t get it. But I rarely do, so no biggie.-BTW, with downed light posts and trees and a closed freeway, it should be damn near impossible to get anywhere, even in the SUV. Should there be more description about National Guard crews or something about them clearing the roads. It would take them hours to drive that 12 miles, with lots of detours. What can I say, it’s good stuff. I can live without all the eff-this and eff-that stuff, but who doesn’t like strippers and hot chicks in general. Definitely entertaining. I might as well shower this with stars and sign your praises. I might even read more later, hopefully. All the best,-Chris
Hi - back to comment furtherI am finding Billie a really intriguing character - there is the violent streak in her that Lola finds shocking, the ongoing fact that Lola is trying to understand what makes her tick and then that vulnerable side shown when Heather is wrapped around her sister during the storm. I'm beginning to warm to Billie and am finding her complexities one of the main reasons for wanting to read on. 'Unless that horny turd Tyler evolved overnight' I liked this.Not sure what a Monroe is - (assusme that it's a reference to Marilyn)Also Lola 'sacked out' - I understand what this means from the text but again, wonder if it is too American for a girl who used to live in Guildford. Engaging, pacey and strong characterisation.High stars and keeping on my w/l.Debbie