The Beta Club: Warrior Monks (YA) - Agree with my Critique?



It's Beta Club Tuesday!  Young Adult is on the agenda today.  Read on and let the author know what you think!  Remember, this will be the only Beta Club of the week, so give it all you got.  ;)

 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: Matthew Rush (check out his blog The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment)
Title: Warrior Monks
Genre: Young Adult

Beta Readers:  He would  love extra beta readers, so drop by his blog and let him know if you're interested :)



Paradise Valley is a wild and pristine country in Boundary County, Idaho.  Its glens and meadows are strewn with hawthorn bushes and snowberry shrubs; its hills and mountainsides with Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine, their evergreen boughs springing forth from the hillsides like emerald whiskers roughening the chin of a slumbering elder god.  The land is cold and lonely, distant peaks flashing skyward, bounding up from the deepening shadows of the hollows in their wake.  Only the wind and silence grace it.
The county is the only one at the tip of the Idaho panhandle where it nestles up against the Canadian border like an afterthought.  The valley rests between the Cabinet and Selkirk mountain ranges and sprawls around the Kootenai River’s east fork.

The teepee sat in a field of long yellow grass at the foot of the “Mountain” known on the map only as 4032.  There were many mountains in the area – some like this one: just foothills; others real mountains whose batholithic crowns stretched above the tree line.  Apparently there were enough mountains in the area that the cartographers couldn’t be bothered to name them all.  The only notation this one received was its elevation above sea level.
The teepee was simple; so natural it could have sprung from the ground.  It was made of cured hide alternating with birch bark stretched over several wooden beams leaning together.  The bark had been cured until it looked like old leather from a distance.  The hide smelled like the musk gland of the elk that had been skinned to provide it.
It stood at the entrance to the reform school known as Rocky Mountain Academy.  Inside the teepee 13 teenagers sat cross-legged in a ring.  A wizened old man headed the east side.  They had just arrived.
They sat in the half-light of the teepee, dazed and reeling as their eyes slowly adjusted to the shadows filling the lower half and contrasting sharply with the blinding rays of sun soaking in through the smoke hole at the top.  A few shifted restlessly as they turned their attention to the old man.  One pulled his ear buds from his ears, the tinny sounds of KRS-One’s “The Sound of the Police” ceasing as he shut his walkman off.
“Hello.  Welcome to RMA.”
Some of them fidgeted a little and dug into the dirt beneath them.  The others looked up and tried to gauge what sort of man this was.
“There are certain things about life, the universe and nature,” the bald old monk began with a resonant voice that belied his frail appearance, “that we here hold as fact and will hopefully be able to instill in all of you as we attempt to broaden your understanding of the world around you.”
He relaxed in the lotus position.  The long yellow grass gathered around his legs and seemed to caress him as he sat there gazing at the students from under his stern grey eyebrows.  A pair of dried up bushy caterpillars, they stood out sharply against the shiny-smooth baldness of his pate.
“One is that the energy that makes up all things is constantly in motion around our bodies, and that once you have obtained a knowledge of it, you can learn to manipulate it; in a way, and to be in harmony with it.”  He continued, gazing at the group attempting to gauge their reactions.
He tugged on one of the long, drooping ends of his mustache which hung past his chin in wisps like the greyed boughs of some ancient weeping willow to form a fu-manchu.  He glanced around the room again; knowing they had no idea what he was talking about.  “You are all new here so we must go over what is expected of you and what it is we do here.”  He stood up and withdrew a scroll from the sleeve of his robe.


Below is my detailed critique.  Please select FULL SCREEN to view, then once the document is open RIGHT CLICK to ZOOM and view 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?

Thanks ahead of time to all of you who comment and thanks to the author for volunteering!

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