More From Rae Mariz

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story now that I jokingly refer to as “Juno set in the semi-post-apocalypse.” It’s about a really smart seventeen-year-old named Starlee Sanders who discovers how much she took people and things for granted after massive rainstorms cripple Seattle’s infrastructure and the survivors mob up to secure resources. The story is basically about figuring out how to move forward after it’s already too late to save the world… but not as dismal as that sounds, I promise.  It doesn’t have a set title yet, but I call it the Mudbook. It’ll come out sometime in 2012.

This is from the Q&A on author Rae Mariz’s website, which I was browsing after writing my review of The Unidentified.

AND THIS BOOK SOUNDS AWESOME, RIGHT? I will be all over this book when it comes out.

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The Unidentified

Oh my Google. The Unidentified was a pretty cool book. It takes place in a not-distant future where, because the government has budgeted no money for education, corporations take over schools. “School” is now “the Game”, and you earn Score by playing what seem to be educational video games or hunting down the answer to a physics question you receive on your phone or by creating art or clothes or music that other kids think is cool and that a Sponsor will want to sell. The catch is that if you get chosen by a Sponsor to be a representative for their brand, or if you get a high enough Score, you can win prizes like a college scholarship, so Score is important to poorer kids like Katey Dade (screen name Kid).

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Smells like a bad analogy

I am so sick of the “love interest smells like something totally implausible” trope in books. I’m reading The Unidentified by Rae Mariz — which is pretty good, and which I am enjoying — but sometimes the writing is just clunky and bad.

His shirt smelled like cotton and cinnamon, and something else. Like welded metal or outer space.

Is his shirt made of cotton? How would his shirt ever smell like cinnamon? Did he spill tea on himself? Couldn’t you just say that his breath smelled like cinnamon, or that his shirt smelled like it had just come out of the dryer (which makes sense and calls to mind a smell that all your readers will recognize)? Don’t even get me started on welded metal or outer space, things which mean nothing because the reader could not possibly have any idea what they smell like. Neither could the narrator in this book, for that matter. So why put it in?

He laughed. His laugh sounded like rain clouds clearing.

Really? “He laughed, and I thought of rain clouds clearing” might make sense. I get what the author is going for here: his laugh is like sunshine! Because the narrator loves him! But come on, his laugh does not sound like rain clouds clearing.

I actually like this book, I swear, but every now and then I read a sentence like the ones above (which occurred on the same page) and it’s just so bad that I’m completely distracted from the story.