SPOILER WARNING: some reviews reveal crucial plot elements and may spoil some wonderful surprises. 

In addition to the reviews on Amazon (thanks everyone who has written one!), I’ve also got the feedback from the judges of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, in which faceless¬†made it to the semi-finals (top 50 of 5000 entries) in the young adult category. I thought I’d share what the judges said.

Publishers Weekly Reviewer (going into semi-finals)

“A savvy teen gets in way over his head in this thoroughly entertaining cyberthriller. Dylan, a high school senior, is a typical teenager. Like all his friends, he spends his entire life online, thanks to interactive hologasses that allow him to order lattes, watch reruns, and know where his friends are and what they’re doing at all times, not to mention document their entire life on FriendBook. Dylan’s a bit of an entrepreneur, though, having gained a reputation for his ability to research questions, sort through all the online noise, and deliver accurate and helpful results. When he receives a research request from a “faceless” correspondent (that is, one without an independently verified real-world identity), their online exchanges lead Dylan to the other side of the world — and into a mind-control plot that’s bigger than anything he could have imagined. Teens and adults alike will be intrigued — and more than a little alarmed — by this manuscript’s premise. Although Dylan’s relative freedom and independence might seem a little far-fetched, readers enthralled by the mix of genuine humor and page-flipping suspense will be more than willing to play along.”

ABNA Expert Reviewer 1 (going into quarter finals)

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

“Very timely excerpt. I think the youth of today can learn a lot of lessons from this story. Relevant topic. Realistic dialogue between the characters. Gets off to a great start that makes me want to continue reading.”

What aspect needs the most work?

“I couldn’t find anything that needs much work. Perhaps just tightening up the story a bit. Kis have a short attention span so you need to grab their attention quickly.”

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

“I think this is a great excerpt. It is very relevant to the youth of today and their fascination with social media. I would like to read more of this story and I have high hopes for it.”

ABNA Expert Reviewer 2

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

“This is a comprehensively strong, polished, and absorbing excerpt. Well-written and evenly paced, it builds tension gradually and organically. All the pieces of a future age fit together logically.”

What aspect needs the most work?

“My only complaint isn’t with the excerpt itself; it is with the pitch. There’s a little too much information to the prospective reader. The paragraph that starts “Dylan flees China” should be compressed more, with less told to the reader about the facts.”

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

“This is a publishable and enjoyable excerpt. I would certainly want to continue reading. There is a combination thriller aspect with a coming-of-age story.It’s original, but uses the Facebook generation’s concerns and issues to compel readers and provoke them to think about the possibilities for technology to literally take over people’s lives.”

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