The Beta Club: The Ivory Promise (YA) --Come Critique!


It's Beta Club Day!  On the agenda today: Young Adult.  So pull up a chair, take a gander, and let the author know what you think.


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: Plamena Jetcheva
Title: The Ivory Promise
Genre: Young Adult


Get up, Clara told herself. Get up or you’ll be late for class again and stuck in detention for the rest of the school year. She didn’t want to stagger out of bed and put her cold clothes on. This morning’s lecture was a waste of time. The teacher only read out of the book anyway.
Clara’s left eye cracked open cautiously to check the time as she tried to decide if she could risk sleeping for another five minutes. As her vision adjusted to the light and the room swam into view she realized there was something strange. Rubbing her eyes she looked out at the bottom of the lecture hall where Ms. Lipsinks was sitting at her desk. As usual, she was reading the textbook without pauses between the sentences and without ever looking up at the students.
Nice. I’m already in class. Clara grinned and stretched her arms out. No need to get up. In fact, I could sleep some more. She had drifted away with her head on An Introduction to History. After trying to flatten its pages out without any success she slid the book to the side. There was a crick in her neck. I really need a better pillow. Rummaging through her schoolbag she pulled out a scarf and arranged it on her desk.
Clara’s head had just touched the soft fabric when a bang cut through the room and silenced Ms. Lipsinks. Clara startled and sat up trying to locate where the noise had come from. All the girls in the room were staring down at the open door which had slammed against the wall. Standing in the doorway was a man wearing a dark green military uniform. A gun glinted in his hand reflecting the fluorescent lecture hall lights.
“Freeze!” He bellowed raising the weapon to chest level.
He didn’t need to say it. Clara was already frozen along with everyone else in the room. She sat transfixed as uniformed men poured into the room each of them carrying a rifle. Had it happened? Had the Equal Rights Movement already taken over this part of the country?
The click of the soldiers’ polished boots was the only source of sound in the room and it reverberated off the walls making them seem to be closing in on her from every direction. Clara could hear some of them marching up the steps towards the back of the auditorium where she was sitting but didn’t dare looking up. Instead she stared straight ahead at the front rows where the soldiers were inspecting every girl’s face.
They reached Amanda, the daughter of the family that was currently in power, and one of them called out “We found one!” Grasping her upper arm he roughly pulled her to her feet, spun her around and handcuffed her wrists behind her back. Clara could see Amanda’s face as she looked out frantically over the girls filling the seats in the room almost as if she expected someone to spring to her rescue.
The gravity of the situation started to sink in Clara’s mind. Her palms began to perspire dampening the paper they were resting on and sticking to it. She expected for the intruders to leave now that they had found Amanda but they continued to search the room. Clara tensed when she heard the scraping of chairs against the linoleum flooring only several seats down her row.
“Take your hood off!” a voice barked from her right. 
Clara couldn’t move. It had been a very happy day for her when the school revised the uniforms and added a hood to the sweater. She hid behind it whenever she could get way with wearing it. Clara didn’t want it removed now but she would have still pulled it off if only she could have forced her arms to move.
The man to her right let out a quick tsk under his breath and the shadow of his hand fell across her face as he reached for her hood. Clara felt his fingers dig into the back of her scalp as he grasped the fabric and yanked it off snagging a few strands of her hair. Her head snapped back and she gasped at the pain that shot through it. Tears filled her eyes and she had to blink several times to clear them.  
“I think I found the other one,” the soldier’s tone sounded pleased.


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? Agree or disagree with my crit?

Also, this author is looking for beta readers to exchange with, so if you are interested, please email her at phoquinn(at)gmail(dot)com.
Thanks ahead of time for offering feedback and thank you to the author for volunteering!

**Today's Theme Song (Author's Choice)**
"Manic Monday" - The Bangles
(player in sidebar, take a listen)