Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #42 - World of Shell and Bone

60,000 WORDS


In a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, Vika Cannon knows there are no guarantees: no guarantees of safety, no guarantees that your neighbor is not actually a spy for the government, and no guarantees you’ll be allowed to emigrate to a new life in Asia.

New Amana (as the North and South American continents are now called) is dying. Food and water are scarce, and people suffering from radiation-caused mutations—the Nukeheads—are the new class of homeless. To control the conditions, the government operates under a totalitarian regime.

Every resident of New Amana has only one purpose. Females must produce healthy progeny using Husbands the Match Clinic assigns. Unhealthy children are carted away to Asylums to be experimented on. Parents incapable of producing healthy progeny are put to death in gas chambers.

When Vika Cannon is assigned a Husband shortly after her twentieth birthday, she expects him to be complacent and obedient. But Shale Underwood has a secret. He is a member of the Radicals, the terrorist group intent on overthrowing the government. And Shale has information about Vika’s baby sister, Ceres, long since banished to the Asylums.

As she learns more about the Rads’s plan, Vika finds herself drawn to Shale in ways she’d never imagined. When freedom calls, will she betray her government and risk death for Shale and Ceres? 

First 150 words:

I am baffled by mirrors.

When I look at my reflection, I see eyes I do not recognize, my mother's nose, my sister's mouth. It is my face, but the lines and curves of it do not resonate deep within me, do not inspire waves of feeling. I am nothing more than a collection of genetic puzzle pieces—I understand and accept this fully. I do not think myself beautiful, nor ugly. In any case, such labeling of oneself is against the law.

Dressing quickly in my uniform, I tie the scarf around my left arm. It weighs heavily on me today, heavier, perhaps, than it has in a long time. The large red zero flaunts my emptiness. I am devoid of an embryo. As of this moment, I am worth very little to my government and my people. But maybe today that will change.


  1. This is lovely and intriguing. I'd read this. All the best.

  2. Interesting & scary concept. I would love to read more :) Great job & good luck!

  3. I'm always intrigued by plots which deal with women's rights r.e. fertility and childbirth. - this sounds great!

  4. I love your first 150. 'Baffled' feels like the perfect word for that first sentence. And I'm with Jaye- I love plots with a strong female character dealing with women's rights.

  5. I definitely like this because it is so high-concept. Good luck!

  6. I really enjoyed your query. It was intriguing, and the 150 solidified my decision. I really hope to buy this book someday:-)You have my vote.

  7. Love the reproduction aspect! You've got my vote!

  8. I have to admit, I'm not a huge dystopia fan, however, after reading the first 150, I would keep reading.

  9. Lumpy Space PrincessSeptember 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I don't know that the final question in your query is actually a very difficult decision. Her freedom comes with the risk of death, but she faces possible death-by-gas chamber anyway if she can't produce healthy kids. Without knowing all the details of the story (which I know is impossible in a query), the decision doesn't seem like a difficult one.

    However, the first 150 is very well written, and a great introduction to the world. And this also gives me The Handmaid's Tale vibes, a book which I LOVED.

    1. Ack! I should've written in the end that she gets pregnant and has to choose. That's what I meant by "when freedom calls..." Hmm. Thank you for your feedback!


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