For anyone who is new to this, Christine's query will be in plain text, below, and my feedback will be in red.
For eighteen(-)yea(-)old Anna Page, a failed suicide attempt I'm not sure you need "failed" and "attempt." They're redundant, because if you only attempt suicide, by definition you did not succeed. and a subsequent? I want this word or something like it here, because I want it to be obvious that the two things are closely related. stay at the psych ward just may be easier than fighting the alien war she has been forced to fight. This has some great punch to it, but I'm not sure about the execution. How is she forced to fight? And by whom?
All right. So for your opening you're not off to a bad start. I like the characterization you've given us for Anna, as she's obviously a troubled girl, but I think you could re-word things here, to make her more active. What causes Anna to give up on life? Give her control of her own choices, then (and I love the alien war coming out of left field like that, it makes for a great hook) give us more specific information about this war. Did aliens invade Earth? Have they been here for a while and just decided to take over? Who is forcing an eighteen-year-old to take part in a war, and why?
Almost dying leaves Anna a broken mess in therapy and telepathic. Wait, what? I love telepathy almost as much as I love telekinesis, but this is worded too suddenly for me. I get that there may not be a logical explanation for her sudden telepathy, but ease us into it with a few more words. Maybe say "... in therapy and with some surprising new mental abilities. Like telepathy." Or something. That's not great, but you get my point. She even thinks her soul lingered over her body for a while. Something she doesn’t want anyone to know. I like this, but I need to have a better idea of what you mean. Is this near death? Out of body? How can she think but not know? But when Anna meets and falls for IAN MCCLENNEND being part Scottish, I ADORE this name, but you don't capitalize character names in a query letter. Not unless their name is all caps in the book for some strange reason. her life changes—don't put em-dashes in query letters if you can at all help it, they do not play nice with email formatting. and it’s not all good. Strange things begin to happen, like what? Be specific. her friends distance themselves, and she’s confronted by ghostly shadow people that try to kill her. Bad-ass.
Your second paragraph is a bit jumbled. You bring up some excellent and interesting concepts, but I really have no clear idea of what the root conflict is. I get the feeling that your novel has some internal conflict of Anna trying to outgrow her ... sadness, grief, depression, whatever, and then also some external conflict, which could either be the romance with Ian or surviving the shadow people, or both but either way we need a better picture of what and why. And another thing: what happened to the alien war?
As Ian and Anna become close, she soon discovers that he isn’t what she thought. He is part of a powerful race what does this mean, exactly? I'm not sure I like the term race. of humans created by Alien why is alien capitalized? refugees and was sent to protect her. I like the idea, but I want to know more about how it works, and what it means for the plot. Is he her protector? Did they meet by chance?
Shockingly, these Aliens had big plans for Anna’s lingering soul, this is vague. What plans? What kind of advantage would her soul give them? but since she surprised them by living through her suicide attempt, now the stakes are even higher. Why did that surprise them? Did they know the attempt was coming? Did they somehow play a role in it? Anna learns she has great power that the refugees can use against the evil lord RAIDEN, I'll share some links below, about famous characters named Raiden, who's names aren't in all caps (as an aside, this might be one instance where a character's name could be all caps. Maybe it's an acronym for some kind of alien AI: Radiant Artificial Intelligence Dynamic Electronic Node: R.A.I.D.E.N.) who has destroyed their planet and is ready to take over Earth. War is brewing, and Anna must fight to save Ian, I thought he was a powerful human sub-species that was going to save her? the aliens and the world.
Can Anna win the war, save the world and the guy she loves when her soul still dreams of dying? Wow. Cool. I like this summary. It's hints at something mystic, metaphysical ... spiritual.
LINGERING SOULS is a young adult, Earth-based, science fiction novel, complete at 62,000 words.This might be a bit short, especially for a novel that might need some world-building, even if it is Earth. I am an active member of SCBWI.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Okay, here are a couple of links to some famous Raiden's, showing why you might not want to name a character that, although it is an awesome name:
Raiden, AKA Lord Raiden, the thunder god of the Mortal Kombat universe, and protector of the Earthrealm.
Raiden, AKA Jack, a part human part cybernetic androgynous ninja agent in the Metal Gear series.
Raiden, a character from the video game Fatal Fury.
And the deity who probably inspired all of them:
Raijin, AKA Raiden, god of thunder and storms in the Shinto religion and Japanese mythology.
Anyway, I don't think any of that means you have to change the name, but I think you should be aware he won't be the first.
So, to summarize: It's obvious to me you've got an awesome story here. I've got a decent sense of your main character, but most of it is from what happens to her, and I'd like to know a little more about what kind of person she is, and how she thinks/feels/reacts to all this external suffering. I'm still not clear what the main plot is, or whether the alien war or the shadow people are more prominent, but I think that's easy to fix. Other than some minor logistical things, I don't think you need any kind of major overhaul.
So that's it.
What do you guys think? What would you change? What of my thoughts do you disagree with? Would you like to see a story with a Radiant Artificial Intelligence Dynamic Electronic Node in it?
Please share your thoughts in the comments, and have a great weekend!