The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1343 would like your feedback regarding the revision below:
Dear Evil Editor,
18-year-old Marla’s life on Earth is a lie. She was captured on a mission for Somret, hidden city and sanctuary against Arrental, the draconian government of her home planet Ilah. She was forced into a mind prison, to live a faux life on Earth. Her body lies in an Arrenth lab, her brain decoded to glean the secrets of Somret. A year later her friends locate her and rescue her mind and body. [Arrenth is not a good adjective for Arrental. Nepal and Portugal go with Nepalese and Portuguese because changing the al to h would make the adjectives Neph and Portugh. Hannibal, Missouri sticks with Hannibal as the adjective. Choosing a random means of forming an adjective could lead to confusion. For instance: Marla was captured by cannibals and imprisoned in a cannabis barn. This could be very bad for Marla, or very good, depending on your interpretation of "cannabis." I recommend either Arrentali or Arrentalese. Better yet, change the place to Arrenthia, and use Arrenthian as the adjective. ]
Marla has returned to Somret, but her memories of Ilah’s metal forests and lightning-fueled cities are gone. All she wants is to belong. However, she is held responsible for that failed mission. Accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by Arrental. Without her memories, she cannot refute these claims. [You said her friends rescued her mind and body. To say they rescued her mind when her memories are gone is like saying they rescued her body when her internal organs are missing.]
A strange autopsy file sets Marla on a search for the truth of that mission. Finding it is the only way to understand why the people of Somret hate and fear her. A botched supply run, a dying messenger, and a quest to the heart of Arrental lead her to the devastating truth.
There was never a mission.
A year ago, Marla was found to have the power to travel to other worlds and peer into minds. The Council of Somret locked her in a mind prison to harness her powers and hone her into a weapon. After a spy sold information to Arrental, she was snatched and brought to an Arrenth lab until retrieved on the Council’s orders.
Marla no longer knows who the enemy is: the government that imprisoned her, or the city she calls home. If she succumbs to the Council’s manipulations, her powers could save an ambassador’s life and prevent a war, at the cost of her freedom, the safety of her friends, and perhaps her life. A web of lies tightens around Marla. She cannot fight alone, but to trust is to be betrayed. [Or is it to risk betrayal? Is she guaranteed to be betrayed if she trusts anyone?]
IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction. Complete at 117,000 words, it has series potential and will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The first three paragraphs set up Marla's situation, which is important, but not worthy of more space than the main story, which begins when she discovers the truth. Something like this would be enough:
Rescued by her friends, 18-year-old Marla is returned to her home city of Somret after a failed mission during which she was captured and her memories stolen. She wants only to return to her life, but accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by the Arrenthians. Without her memories, she cannot defend herself.
Then you can get into the story, beginning: A search for the details of her mission turns up a devastating truth: there was no mission.
I don't see why Earth needs to be in the query. Actually, I don't see why the whole book can't be set either on Ilah or on Earth. Even at the speed of light it takes forever to get to other worlds, so it seems more useful to hone Marla into a weapon that can be used against Arrental than against other worlds. Marla's people are just the hidden city of Somret. For them to be conducting experiments involving Earth is like the people of Teaneck, New Jersey secretly getting involved in the lives of people on Trappist-1d. Of course it would all make perfect sense if we knew Somret's ultimate objective.