Andromeda Jaunsten isn't a very good alien. She can’t read minds like the rest of her class. She can't turn invisible or move things with pure willpower. She can’t even levitate, which is supposed to be downright easy.
About to be expelled and desperate to stay, she turns to performance-enhancing drugs. It's stupid and illegal, but it works. In fact, it works too well. She can suddenly see the most well hidden secrets, and it's not nearly as amusing as it sounds.
Her teacher Dr Ister has been searching the Academy for the missing princess of Narulon, and it's not for purely patriotic reasons. Now he thinks he's found her in Andromeda's roommate Grace Robin.
Andromeda tells anyone and everyone who might listen, and the next thing she knows she's locked in a bathroom and nearly burned to death. It's part warning, part proof that she's right. If only someone would believe her.
When Ister gets hold of Grace, no one is willing to help. If Grace dies, the future of Narulon dies with her, and Andromeda is certainly not living the rest of her life with that on her conscience. Of course, the rest of her life might not be very long once she confronts Ister.
STARS is my debut. It is a 95,000 words YA novel. I have included (whatever the agent's website asks for) below.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Yes! You've nailed it.
Now, what to do when you "win" QueryShark?
Make sure your novel reflects what you've done here: get the choices Andromeda makes on the page pretty early. In this case it sounds like using drugs to become a better alien. We don't need a lot of backstory about how she got to the school or that she's a bad alien. Get us to that fork in the road as soon as you can without rushing the pace.
I love the voice here too: bright and insouciant.
Andromeda Jaunsten isn't a very good alien. She can’t read minds like the rest of her class. She can't turn invisible or move things with pure willpower. She can’t even levitate, which is supposed to be downright easy. All she's ever been able to do is sense the emotions of those around her, and that's only good for finding out just how close she is to being expelled.
This is pretty good for setting the scene. I'm interested to find out what happens next.
Not only is she lacking an actual talent, she's lacking the most distinguishing part of her species: the small star-shaped tattoo given to all unwanted children of Narulon before they're shipped off to Earth to be raised by humans. No one knows why, but it soon cements everyone's conviction that she doesn't belong at the Academy.
And this doesn't tell me what happens next. It's more set up. It's more alien out of water stuff.
As she's inexplicably given more and more time to prove herself, the irritation around her mounts. Her roommate can't wait to have their room to herself, her best friend's new girlfriend is eager to get rid of the competition and Andromeda's least favorite teacher, Ister, is taking every chance he can get to furiously search her mind like there's no tomorrow. She even finds him lurking outside her bedroom at night, hoping to catch a glimpse of her vulnerable sleeping mind.
Ok, but this is just more of the same. It's set up. You can encapsulate ALL of this into "and everyone else is just waiting for the day she gets booted out too."
Right now there are no stakes. She's an alien, and not a good one. She's going to get expelled. So what?
You've really got to get to the so what part of the equation in the first line of the second paragraph.
When she's locked in a bathroom and nearly burned to death, she knows it wasn't an accident, and she has an obvious suspect in mind. While everyone else is overwhelmed with shock, Ister feels guilty… and angry. Andromeda just can't understand why he would want to kill her, unless it has something to do with what he found in her memories. If she learns to read his mind, while protecting her own, she might just find out where she really comes from. But then again, would Ister allow her close enough to try, without a second attempt at her life?
STARS is my debut. It is a 95,000 words YA novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration
You seem to have lost about 30,000 words between version 1 and version 2. That's probably a good thing but you still don't have the essence of a plot here: what choice does Andromdeda face? People want her dead. Ok, a lot of people wouldn't mind blowing up the QueryShark with verbal TNT. So what?
Unless I must choose between A. posting here and annoying the murderously inclined to further attempts or B. quitting the blogging business, there are NO stakes. You need to show me Andromeda's choices. It also helps if the both choices comes with some horrible consequences: I quit blogging and will fall into despair at the deluge of bad queries; I don't quit blogging and not only am I murdered in my kelp bed, I'm eaten for lunch as shark fin soup.
See the difference? The fact that people want to kill Andromeda isn't a plot. The fact that she doesn't know where she comes from isn't a plot. What's at stake if she finds out she's really from Betelgeuse not Narulon? If she learns to read his mindif she learns to read his mind she'll turn into a toad, does she choose to do that? The choices she must make are the plot.
Andromeda Jaunsten doesn't know what to expect from the Academy. She doesn't know her roommate will hate her, her best friend will fall for a girl she can't stand, her teachers will be able to -literally- see right through her, or that her future will hold at least three near-death experiences (only one of which is an accident). She just found out she's an alien, and apparently, she's not the only one.
The most interesting sentence in the paragraph is the last one; you've buried it under a list of things that aren't very interesting (because we don't have the context of the last sentence.)
The problem is, she's not a good enough alien.
Aha! Here's the sentence that helps us figure out context. If start with something like Andromeda Jaunsten is not a good enough alien and ditch the list and get on with the problem, you're better off. (it's also a bit clunky: Andromeda Jaunsten isn't a very good alien sounds better. Developing an ear for rhythm is REALLY important.)
She can’t read minds like the rest of her class. She can’t turn invisible or move things with pure will power. She can’t even levitate, which is supposed to be downright easy. All she’s ever been able to do is sense the emotions of those around her, and that's not impressing anyone.
Andromeda soon faces expulsion, and if she doesn't drastically improve in the mind-reading department, she will be sent home without friends, without a proper education and without the chance to find out who is trying to kill her roommate Grace Robin (with such bad aim she's caught in the cross-fire, nonetheless).
And then you trail off here into nothingness. Expulsion isn't very high stakes. Finding out who wants to kill her roommate is better, but still not very much.
Your plot needs some work here. Also, who's the antagonist?
STARS is my debut. It is a 124,000 words YA novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Right now you don't have enough to entice me to read pages. You're on the right track but you need more plot. This feels very thin for 124K novel.