Query Critique 79

Dear [agent’s name],

[PERSONALISATION] As such, I thought you might enjoy my young adult novel, THE BACKSLIDERS.

Three years ago, Great Britain closed its borders and no-one has entered or left the country since. It’s now 2022 and eighteen year old Eve Mimieux wants one thing: to escape.

As the daughter of foreign born parents who are now banished from Britain’s shores, Eve is a precariat, the lowest class in New Britain. Eve survives on a pitiful wage she earns at the Military Police social club where she’s surrounded by the men who impose the rules she has come to hate. When a new Inquisitor appears and takes an interest in Eve, he gets dangerously close to learning her secret: Eve is a criminal.

Eve manages her hatred for the world she’s stuck in by gorging on the culture New Britain banned. With her twin brother, Jack, they form the Backsliders, who try to keep the books they love alive in the minds of readers. But the Backsliders clandestine existence could be about to come to an abrupt end when they encounter an Elite girl.

An Elite girl named Alice.

Alice Deering has a seemingly ideal existence, but hasn’t felt alive for a single moment of it. Smothered by her over-bearing mother and steered by The British Revival party’s strict morality laws, Alice is yet to make a single decision on her own. Alice hopes that entering the world of courtship will be everything her mother promises and more. When her first assignation is interrupted by an act of vandalism, she finds herself in the company of the criminals who are the focus of a citywide manhunt.

Overall, I would say this query is pretty strong. However, it is missing stakes. I don’t feel as much of a sense of danger as I think I should. Refer to my post on stakes for more information.

Told in a dual point of view, THE BACKSLIDERS is a 100,000 word YA speculative fiction novel. It is stand-alone with series potential and may appeal to readers of LEGEND by Marie Lu or Louise O’Neill’s ONLY EVER YOURS. Leave your title in all caps, but put comp titles in italics to set them apart. Also, this is more a problem with the industry than the query, but this sounds very typical dystopia, which is a hard sale right now. If you have non-dystopic elements, I would try to play those up. Try to categorize your genre as something other than speculative fiction, as that’s not very specific. And it sort of feels like you’re just trying to avoid calling it dystopia.

Thank you for your consideration.


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