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Team Brenda #11 – PLUGGED IN

Thursday, 17 May 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Word Count: 72,000 


When sixteen-year-old Misty Evans discovers a hidden notebook in her mother’s art room, she’s excited and terrified. Paper is against the law.

In the pages of the notebook, Misty finds events leading up to her mother’s disappearance might have something to do with the Mainframe, the self-aware computer that monitors the safety of the bio-city she lives in. Those who question the Mainframe or the Techs disappear.

Misty seeks help from her best friend and crush, Berek, a Tech trainee. He gives her frightening new insight into the world around them. The protective biosphere doesn’t exist, her every move is monitored, and communities of Outlanders hide somewhere outside the safety of the bio-cities. And Misty’s mother could be with them.

After Berek is scheduled to leave New Summit for Tech Central to work with the Mainframe, Misty realizes she’ll never see him again and knows it’s time to do something. Bolstered by the words from her mother’s notebook, and grasping the chance to remain with Berek, Misty decides to do something unthinkable – leave the confines of the biosphere. The young couple treks into the dangerous and toxic Outland, looking for their loved ones. And a way to stop the Mainframe before it destroys the rest of humanity.


A strong breeze swept past Misty Evan’s face, causing her long red ringlets to twist and snarl, but she didn’t move to untangle them. Her mind was elsewhere, she stared through the dense chain link as if it weren’t there, watching the water lap at the rocky shore of the distant reservoir. She ached to touch the water, to test her theory of how cold it would be, but knew she never would. Imagining the sound of the water kissing the rocks and the damp air touching her face, she closed her eyes and tipped her head back to soak up the August sun.

Berek leaned closer, his breath on her neck, and whispered, “You’ll get more freckles, you know.”

Misty caught her breath. Feeling Berek so close caused unfamiliar sensations in her.  He’s my best friend, she reminded herself, returning her gaze to the reservoir and stealing glances at him.  “Do you ever wonder how cold the water is?” she asked.

His dark hair blew across his face, hiding his cobalt eyes.

“Nope. I’m too busy trying to figure out how to get around the latest Tricks in the Big Game. The Programmers are getting better. I haven’t been able to hack ‘em yet.”

Berek turned away from the fence to look at the mountain that towered over the west side of their city. She knew he wasn’t being completely truthful when she saw his cheek twitch. He’d never been good at lying to her.

He wouldn’t admit it, but the fact that they couldn’t leave the boundary of their city had to bother him as much as it bothered her.

Filed: Misc

  • Suzi says:

    Paper is illegal? Scary. This sounds interesting. Good luck.

  • Sarah Ahiers says:

    ooh, i’m with Suzi. I was totally hooked once you said paper was against the law!

  • Valerie says:

    Oh wow! I loved the 250. I want to keep reading, I need to know if Berek and Misty end up ok. Great job!!

  • “Paper is against the law.” This line stuck with me, pulling me in. Great job & good luck!

  • T.L. Bodine says:

    You already know I’m hooked ^^

  • Jamie Grey says:

    This is such a cool concept – I’m immediately hooked by all of the amazing details and feel like I’m right there with them. I love this!

  • An escape from an oppressive society plus a love story? Count me in! Good luck!

  • Ooo self-aware computer? And paper is illegal. I LOVE it!

  • Becca C. says:

    Such lovely prose in that excerpt, and I LOVE a story with some sentient technology. This. Sounds. Awesome.

  • April Wall says:

    A touch of Fahrenheit 451, anyone? Great job! Good luck!

  • Sarah Henson says:

    I adore this concept. Good luck!

  • I still love this concept & I love how you’ve tightened the query! Great work & good luck!

  • Lisa K. says:

    Ooh…I’m intrigued by the idea of a society where paper is illegal as well as the implications of finding the hidden notebook. Very compelling.

  • I’m a sucker for hidden notebooks! Paper is against the law – I actually sucked in my breath on that one. This book sounds dangerous and I love, love, love that!

  • Dahlia says:

    Totally had me at paper is against the law, and I see I’m not alone! Good luck!

  • Kat Watson says:

    Can’t wait to read more of this! Good luck!

  • Noelle Henry says:

    You had me at paper is illegal! Great concept and great writing. Good luck!

  • I love this opening scene – and I swear it’s not just because the MC has red hair and freckles…..though I must admit, that alone would make me cheer for her. 😉

    Great premise! Strong voice! Good luck to you!

  • Alex Hayman says:

    I love this query, this opening, everything! Good luck!

  • This has turned out so great!! It is so polished now! I remember it well from first part of the contest!!

    Good luck!!

  • Andrea Somberg says:

    I vote for you!

  • Tara Dairman says:

    #11 PLUGGED IN


    A world where paper against the law? That’s intriguing.

    In the second paragraph, I’d stick a “that” between “Misty finds” and “events leading…” because as it is now, it sounds like she finds the events themselves in the notebook. Maybe “learns that” would be even better.

    The only other thing that threw me was your mention of “New Summit”—I’m guessing that’s her city’s name, but since you didn’t use it earlier, I’m not sure. If it’s not that important, just stick to referring to it as “the city” or “the bio-city” for simplicity in the query.

    First page:

    It’s a cool setting that you drop us into, right at the boundary of the city. I like Misty’s wondering about the water, though if she’s close enough to see waves lapping the shore, I’d think she’d be close enough to hear them, too, unless there’s some kind of sound barrier.

    The descriptions of the characters’ hair/eye color feel a little forced to me. Maybe one of those details can come on the first page, but three feels like too much.

    And a couple of grammatical nitpicks: In the first line, if her last name is “Evans,” then the possessive should be “Evans’s.” And between “Her mind was elsewhere” and “she stared through…” you need a stronger stop than a comma, either a semi-colon or a period.

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