Inkpop was a website run by HarperCollins Publishing focused on finding young adult authors and new stories. Each month, the top five popular stories would be reviewed by HarperCollins editors.
An early draft of The Assassin was a top pick in October 2010.
You’ve devised a thrilling premise here—the dual lives that Cassie leads, the intrigue of her past, the excitement and daring involved in her profession as a teenage assassin (not to mention that she’s a female assassin!)—all of these elements grab the reader immediately. I think Cassie’s spunky personality and bravado are truly appealing—she is a relatable heroine that the reader will root for, especially considering her checkered past, the misfortune of her parents, her calling to become an assassin as her father was before her, and a destiny that could not be denied. That she is a seemingly everyday teen with boy troubles, mean girl confrontations, cafeteria showdowns, history projects and homework adds to the allure of her secret life. You’ve set this up beautifully and the juxtaposition between Cassie-by-day and her nighttime missions makes for great reading.
The prologue is chilling and a wonderful set-up as you thrust the reader into the action right away, and we witness the gruesome murder of Cassie’s mother by her father. Cassie’s mother’s premonition that her baby is destined to outshine her father in her abilities is one that is haunting. What will become of this poor abandoned child? Flash forward to an outwardly normal high school life, and we learn how Cassie has come to reconcile the person she was meant to be. Her skill in killing, the signature knife through the heart, the suspicions and fame surrounding the identity of The Assassin—all of this allows for action-packed and alluring scenes.
Where I would like to see more development is in Cassie’s understanding of her role as assassin—how did she first learn that this was her calling? Was she trained somehow or did it come to her naturally? She has such tremendous confidence in her skills that I think it would help for the reader to better understand how Cassie first learned of and grappled with her fate. It can’t be easy to find out that you were meant to be a killer. Also, in her murder scenes she appears to have no remorse—I understand that each of these intended victims are wrongdoers in some capacity or another, and that she must be professional and detached in order to execute her assassination, but she seems almost too cavalier and relaxed. Also, there seems to be a Robin Hood aspect with respect to her targets—this is interesting, especially in opposition to her evil father and his cruel and unusual work as an assassin. I think this could definitely be developed and fleshed out further.
The romance with Seth Edwards delivers palpable chemistry and sexy banter—the way in which she rejects him in spite of herself allows us to see the vulnerable side of Cassie and helps to round out your heroine. I think you could do further work on Seth—why is it that he’s so intent on charming Cassie? His motives, beyond a basic crush, seem unclear. What is the source of Seth’s feelings, and why is he drawn to Cassie in such an intense way?
I’m eager to see where Cassie’s hunt for Joe will lead her and how the showdown with her criminal father will play out—all these details allow for a climactic denouement and a captivating conclusion. Bravo for crafting a terrific plot and delivering a gripping story arc!
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© LAURA TEAGAN