The Bones of Babylon
Fifteen-year-old Chicago feels isolated amongst earth's few survivors, until her long-lost friend Babylon reappears from her past. He opens doors for her, kisses her hand, and treats her like a princess. Unfortunately, he's also bent on murdering everyone she knows.
Armed with the power to control both minds and monsters, Babylon is after blood — and Chicago. He tells her the secrets he almost died to learn: that she and her friends aren’t the sole survivors of the human race, that Chicago and her friends inherited a devastating power, and that the adults will do whatever it takes to keep it locked away. Their home isn’t a sanctuary, it’s a prison.
Babylon’s plan to liberate Chicago begins with the slaughter of her captors, but it won’t end there. Now Chicago must navigate both the paranoia of the adults and Babylon’s ruthless insanity. If she sides with him she will lose everything she’s ever held dear. If she doesn’t, she’ll be forced to kill the only person she’s ever loved.
THE BONES OF BABYLON is a 64,000-word post-apocalyptic fantasy novel for young adults. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The tightened focus here works better, imo. Now see if you can keep the focus tight while making the internal story line of the query a little clearer and more consistent.
For instance, we're told Babylon is murdering everyone Chicago knows. Does that mean he's killing her friends -- the ones who are like her and him -- too? Do her friends include the adults? We're told she and her friends aren't the sole survivors, so that indicates the adults would be included in there too. If that's true, then who are their captors?
Dangling the bit about controlling monsters as it's done here isn't really intriguing, it's just baffling. We don't know in this version that "monsters" laid waste to the world in the first place so we have nothing to equate with them or even if the term is meant to be literal or metaphorical.
Having to make a choice and potentially sacrifice the person Chicago loves is quite workable, but it's a pretty common trope in fantasy. Many readers who enjoy that trope (and I'll be the first to raise my hand) want to feel both parties are worth the sacrifice.
Remember Buffy and Angel? The audience came to love Angel just as much as Buffy did. Then he became Angelus and the audience knew, just as Buffy did, that Angelus had to die. For just a moment he became Angel again, but it couldn't last -- he knew it, Buffy knew it and the audience knew it. She had to kill him to save the world. What tore us apart was that she killed him when he was the good guy, Angel, not when he was the bad guy, Angelus.
Or how about the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera? He killed all of Christine's enemies and even kidnapped her, and he did it out of twisted love for Christine -- perhaps similar to Babylon's motive. In the end, though, he realized what he was doing was wrong. Both Christine and the Phantom are transformed by events.
From what we know of Babylon in this query, he's a bad guy. I may feel sorry for Chicago for falling for a murderer and having to kill the boy she loves, but even the query says he's exhibiting ruthless insanity. This is not a nice person. In fact, given how he showers Chicago with affected affection, he seems to be covering an abusive nature. There's no hint he may change in the end, that he can be saved. The reader can sympathize with Chicago, but our hearts aren't breaking that she may be forced to kill him. What can you give us in the query to help the reader better understand the dynamic at play here?
Friday, July 8, 2011
Query 93: Redux 2
The Bones of Babylon