MG Fantasy Adventure First Page Critique

Hello, Friday! We’ve all survived another week - and let me tell you, I am READY for the weekend! But first, critique! If you’d like a chance for me to critique your first page, please fill up this FORM.

Today’s page comes from the first draft of a middle grade fantasy adventure. Let’s take a look!

MG 1.png

Right away, I’m drawn into the somber tone of the manuscript. Parents sending their children away never to see them again doesn’t exactly sound like a happy story. Immediately, I feel for our main character and the trials they’re going to face. I think there is some room in these first few paragraphs to clue the reader into the story a bit more. When the character says she’s called the island home for twelve years, it wasn’t clear to me that the character is only twelve years old. I completed this critique blind, without knowing the genre, so I was really surprised when I found out it was middle grade. The voice is beautiful, but it sounds a bit too old for middle grade - I definitely would’ve guessed YA or even adult based on the page and content alone.

Immediately, I want to know why the character only has one day left on the island. What happens at the end of the day? How does she plan to “not waste” her last day? What does this mean exactly? These clues will draw the reader in further. We want to go on this adventure with the character, so the more information we have, the more invested we’ll be.

MG 2.png

Here I wonder what the statues mean to our character. Why does she think she’s condemned? Has she broken some holy law? Why is her mind helpless? In what way? I think another line or two here to answer the questions would pull us deeper in the character’s life and struggles.

MG 3.png

I’m a little confused here. If Safra doesn’t want to be found, why is she in the temple where other people are being called? What is she doing there? Is she hiding? If so, why is she hiding here and not somewhere else? I also wonder about this “opinion” she has. This could be an opinion about literally anything - perhaps she thinks the sun is green or that Brussels sprouts are the best food. Unless the author tells me what this means, I’m left to make up what I think it is.

MG 4.png

Now we learn that her parents are searching for her - but why? It seemed like she just left home at the top of this page, so how do they know she’s missing? I thought she crept out in the middle of the night, so how does she know that her parents realize she’s gone? And how exactly has the temple served her well? Is it where she learned? Is it only a holy place? I want to know what this temple means to Safra specifically.

I know I’ve made A LOT of comments on this first page, but I want to be clear that I’m intrigued by the author’s use of language and writing ability. It’s clear to me the author knows their way around words, and I would definitely read forward despite my questions - mostly to see if they’re answered within the next page or two. To ENSURE that I would read forward, I recommend answering some of them on this first page so we truly understand what’s at stake for Safra. What is she leaving behind? Why does it matter? What will happen if she goes to the Arisoka island? Or if she doesn’t? What’s her plan here?

Well, that’s a wrap on another first page critique! I hope the author (and you!) found this helpful. See you next Friday!