Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teen Writers Summer Blogfest: Blurbs!

So today for the blogfest, we're doing some blurb critiques. The point of this is to let some other people know what teen people look for when they are picking out books, specifically what they think about the "blurb" which is the little paragraph on a book jacket that tells you what the book is about.

Blurbs should tell what the book is about in an organized, interesting and slightly suspenseful manner. Right now I'm trying to think of what I, specifically, look for in a blurb.

I guess one thing that I really want to know is about the character. The characters in a book are an essential part of the book; they're what (who?) we connect to as readers. I also want reasons why I should stick around: is anything interesting going to happen? What's going to go wrong?, etcetera. There should always be conflict. And continuing with reasons why I should stick around, the blurb shouldn't give away the ending. It should end with something that should say (not  literally, though) read on to find out what happens!

But there's also the thing where usually I have to have some sort of connection to the book. For example, my sister has Down Syndrome, so I'm automatically drawn to books about people with disabilities. (It's like when I am automatically drawn to blogs by teens or Canadians, because I am a teen and a Canadian). But you can't really do anything about that.



Genre: Upper Middle Grade Adventure

Eccentric debate club champ Tripplehorn Parker is certain he’ll be dead by next week, his body rolling around the stomach of an African beastie. He might be right. While his wildlife-researcher parents are thrilled to be entering the field again, Tripp can only mourn the inevitable loss of his limbs. Unfortunately, nobody will listen to reason from a friendless twelve-year-old, even one with a large vocabulary. The night before leaving home, Tripp receives a cryptic message ending with: Only you can stop them.

An eight-fingered woman and her eyepatched sidekick appear to follow the Parkers from America to the Ugandan bush. The guide is a suspicious meanie. The support workers are twitchy. Warnings and symbols continue to appear in Tripp’s backpack, finally prompting him to do a very scary thing. He teams up with a Ugandan girl to determine why hippo territory is so popular. Clues and village folklore point to a hidden hippo shrine containing power and gold galore. Unfortunately, ancient legend calls for a human sacrifice (or three) to access the treasure. If the shrine is found, the research trip may become a rather uncivilized hunting expedition, with the Parkers as prey. With no podium or moderator in sight, Tripp faces the toughest competitive duo he’s ever encountered: Mother Nature and a herd of really, really bad guys.

I think the biggest problem with this blurb is organization. I think it would honestly be really interesting, but it is kind of all over the place. It's like it follows several different stories: Tripp leaving for scary Africa, the mystery of the notes given to Tripp, and the hippo legend thing. And I don't get how they all connect. It seems like there are a whole bunch of random... balloons, or something, instead of a string that follows the main idea of the story. (That made no sense. I think I may need to work on my organization skills, haha!!)

I also don't understand the random bits of younger language. It just didn't seem to fit, in my opinion. "suspicious meanie", "herd of really, really bad guys". I realize Tripp is twelve, but I still think those things could be worded better (with better organization).

I would focus more on Tripp as a character, because from the first paragraph he sounded kind of funny and interesting. I like characters that dramaticize everything in a funny way, like Tripp did with the African beastie. ;)

I think with a little fixing up and a switch in focus with this blurb, I probably would read the book. As it is right now? No, I wouldn't.

What do you think? Do you agree with me? Why/why not?


  1. I completely agree with you. I like the first paragraph, but the second one is all over the place.

  2. This is an excellent critique. I agree with you, except about the kid language. I think it fits a 12-year-old. Some tightening up would help this blurb. It can be shortened. Sounds like a good book to me.

  3. I didn't really pinpoint the organization problem in my critique but I definitely agree. It took me a few times to really understand what the paragraph meant. And the language did feel a bit young, but maybe that's just Tripp's personality? He does sound like a fun character, though. :)

  4. I guess the thing that bugged me most about the young language is that it just popped up in random places, instead of Tripp's voice or whatever being consistent throughout the entire blurb, which I would've liked to see.

  5. I read that- and I thought -huh? Is this two books...? Oh well. I think if that were a real blurb that the writer needs a new editor! :D


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