I'm so glad someone else asked for a critique- I don't have a lot of time to do these, so I had talked myself out of just going through the comment thread on Nathan's blog and doing them wholesale, but if someone *asks* for a critique, well, then I feel obligated! And I like doing them, so this is a good thing.
17. David Wisehart, Red Wedding - I love the opening description of the storm. I would definitely keep reading this one- the humorous tone is very nice. Zoey seems a little nutty, but that's part of what makes it interesting. One thing I did notice- while I love the opening description, some of your similes are distracting. I think coming up with non-cliche similes is definitely one of your talents, but you should use it a little more sparingly. There were at least three in the first page- the storm in the beginning, then Zoey's underwear, and then the "skull cracking under an avalanche of boulders". That last one came out of left field, and really pulled me away from the story. I also might try to work in a little more of what Zoey's attitude toward Peter is; I couldn't tell if she was really in love with him or if the book was going to head in the opposite direction and she would find out she didn't want to marry him after all. But then again, I should have learned my lesson from Nathan's post about first pages (see my last post). I think that principle can apply to more than just action; this is a novel, you have an intriguing first page, and you don't have to show me how all the characters feel about all the others all at once.
18. Jordan, The Incredible Blanco Brothers - Jordan says she's been getting conflicted advice on her opening. Well, I haven't seen any of it, so I'm pretty unbiased. You'll have to let me know where I fall on the scale of responses.
I really liked this. The writing really pulled me in. No distracting tics or overwriting or anything, just solid, descriptive writing. It's in a very passive voice, and I bet you're getting some responses harping about that, but I thought it served as a very good introduction to a complex character. I liked his motives for dying his hair, I liked his father's reaction, I was interested in the home life he must have. I did get a little confused was when you switched from the backstory to the present - "The ridicule, however, continues to come." I thought the "one of them would say" was a little weak- who are "they"? Just the kids at school? This seems like it's build-up to the reveal of Ansel's full name, but I think that could be tightened up a little. Also, the "you see" was distracting- I got pulled back out of Ansel's head, and a narrator came between us. Maybe that's going to be part of the book's style, but if not, I think that could come out without weakening the sentence. You've made me like the main character, I can see what some of the conflict is going to be, and I want to know what happens next. I don't have any idea where the book is going to go from here- but I'd keep reading to find out.
As always, let me know what you think. If you've read Jordan's or David's work and agree or disagree, I'd be interested to know.