The Beta Club: Embrol (YA Sci-Fi) - Come Critique!


Happy Thursday!  Thanks to everyone yesterday who wished me well about sleep yesterday.  Unfortunately, I didn't fall asleep until 1:30 due to writer's insomnia and then the kidlet decided to wake up at 3am for no apparent reason and didn't go back to sleep until 5am, sending me into another bout of racing mind afterwards.  So I'm coming to you today, live and hyped on caffeine.  On a good note, I wrote 2300 words yesterday!  :)

Alright, enough about me, it's time for the Beta Club!  I hope that you guys are still enjoying this feature.  Comments have dropped off a bit over the last few beta days.  I'm not sure if it's because y'all are over the idea or if people aren't commenting because others have already said what they planned to say.  Either way it's fine, I would just like you to let me know in the comments if you want me to continue this bi-weekly feature, if you're still finding it helpful, or if you want me to lose it (the feature, not it in general, although last night around 4am I was particularly close to losing the general "it".)

For newbies:  If you haven't been here on beta club day yet, don't be afraid to jump in with your comments.  All feedback is welcome as long as it's constructive.  And if anyone has an itch to be critiqued, the rules for submitting to the Beta Club are under the "Free Critiques" heading at the top of the page.


Alright, please read through the author's excerpt, then provide your feedback in the comments.  My detailed critique is below.

Author: Abby Annis (go visit her and say hi!)
Title: Embrol
Genre: YA Sci-Fi



            Three seconds. That’s how long ittook for my life to end.
            Well, it was an end of sorts. And itmight’ve taken longer. My recollection of that day is fuzzy, at best. I supposeit depends on which point was the actual end. Some might say it was the firstor second or third time I died. For me, it was the moment I saw that truckbarreling toward us. A girl really should have better memories of hereighteenth birthday.
            The day started gray. Not a dismal,ominous gray, but a beautiful, no sunshine or blue skies type of gray. A rareoccurrence in Mesa, Arizona, and my absolute favorite kind of day. Dark, heavyclouds hung low in the sky, moisture and dust mingling in the air to create thesmell that promises rain. Fat drops began to fall, drumming the metal roof andmuffling the chatter of the students filling the outdoor locker area aftersecond period.
            “How’s my favorite redhead on thislovely December morning?” Trevor hooked his arm around my neck and gave me hischeesiest grin.
            I slammed my locker shut. “LovelyDecember morning? What are you? Forty?”
            “Not cool, Livy. You make me promiseto be nice and when I do, all I get is crap from you?”
            “Yeah. Nice for one day. That’s it.Not a complete personality change. I love you just the way you are.”
            “Heh. That was way easier than I thought it would be.” His hand curled around myupper arm, and he let out a high-pitched whistle that made me wish I didn’thave ears. About a million heads swung toward us.
            Ifonly I could melt into the concrete on demand.
            “Today is Livy Ryan’s birthday,” heshouted.
            I tried to yank my arm from hisgrip. He wouldn’t budge. “Trevor, you promised—”
            “You don’t want me to be somethingI’m not. You said so yourself.”
            I should’ve known he’d fabricatesome loophole to wriggle out of his promise. This scene had been an inescapablepart of my birthday since I turned seven. He’d been my knight in shining armorthen. Now, I just wanted to choke him.
            People stared, some of themsnickering.
            “You know I hate you, right?” Isaid, making another lame attempt at escaping.
            He laughed and raised his voiceagain. “Today is Livy’s eighteenth birthday. And what do we do when someone hasa birthday?”
            His audience dwindled, thankgoodness, but a mousy girl blushed, her eyelashes fluttering, and squeaked,“Sing?”
            Whatdoes she see that I don’t? Sure, he was tall—almost six feet—and cute in aTrevor sort of way. His black hair curled up around the bottom of his cap, andhe always had that look in his dark eyes like he was up to something. Seriouslythough, one time a girl actually sighed as he walked by—totally ridiculous.
            Trevor pointed to mousy girl andwinked, flashing his most obnoxious grin. “Give the pretty lady a prize!”
            She giggled and—along with likefifty other people—joined him in singing the world’s longest version of thebirthday song. I pulled my hood up to hide my face, certain my cheeks haddarkened enough to match my auburn hair.
            He finally released me, and I shovedhim away. “Your word is worthless, Trevor.”
            “Aw, c’mon. It’s tradition.”
            “I don’t care what you call it, youpromised… No way. You know that pouty face doesn’t work on me.”
            “Yes it does.”
            “You’re such a pain.” I barelymanaged to withhold a smile.
            Trevor’s arm found its way backaround my neck. He draped his jacket over our heads  and dragged me out into the rain, toward themain building. “We still on for Friday?”
            “Yeah, right. I’m not going out inpublic with you.”
            “I’ll pick you up at six.”
            “I won’t be there.”
            “Yes you will.” He rested his head againstmine. “You love me.”
            “Ha! So what? Doesn’t mean I likeyou.”
            “You know, Liv.” He laid his handover his heart in mock pain. “You really know how to hurt a guy.”
            “Whatever. You wouldn’t be happy ifyou weren’t making me crazy.”
            “Maybe not, but you’re still my bestgirlfriend.” He always said that when he wanted to get on my good side.
            “I’m so telling Brooke you saidthat.”
            “She’ll never believe you,especially after last night—”
            “Ew! No details, please.”
            “The details? Those are the best part.”
Below is my critique, click on FULL SCREEN, then once the document opens, RIGHT CLICK to zoom so you can see the comments.

Alright, so what do you think?  Are you hooked?  What did the author do well?  What things could be improved?  Thanks ahead of time for offering your feedback!
*Today's Theme Song**
"Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" - Ronnie Milsap
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)