Author: Catherine Peace
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 113,000
Subject 31, the Humani Project’s latest experiment believes she’s human, but after seeing her sleek black fur, claws, and tail, she’s not so sure. Her only clue to an existence before panther DNA was spliced to hers is a fragment of a memory and a name—Janelle.
According to the scientists, she's the perfect blend of human and animal. Most importantly, she can still speak, making her the lab's most successful Humani to date.
Imprisoned in the Phoenix, Arizona lab, 31 must complete the grueling, and sometimes deadly, physical assessments administered by resident asshole Dr. Frederick James. Her failure means immediate termination. To survive, she must tame the wild animal that wants to take over—only she has no idea how. That ability wasn’t coded in her new DNA.
When she fails an assessment, death looms in the form of the lab-made creature she was supposed to kill. She’s surprised that the project's founder breaks his own protocol to save her without hesitation. When he calls her “Janelle,” 31 understands that somehow the scientists have erased the existence of someone they knew. Someone who deserves to understand her fate.
The closer she gets to piecing together her past, the harder she has to fight to stay alive. Buried in her past is knowledge that could bring the Project to its knees, and Dr. James will do anything to protect the Project, even if it means killing its greatest success.
The Good: I remember Duality from the query contest, and I thought it was a fascinating premise. This seems a unique and very interesting book.
Suggestions: I think the wording of this pitch could be tighter. I'd cut "Subject 31" from the first line and put "Subject 31's only clue..." at the start of the second sentence. That would let the first line simply act as a hook. I'm on the fence as to the "resident a--hole" line, since it give a nice sense of narrative voice, but the profanity might raise a few hackles in a pitch contest. The last line in the third paragraph about "That ability..." could be cut without losing any meaning, and I'd em-dash the "Someone who deserves..." line at the end of the fourth paragraph onto the end of the previous sentence to avoid the sentence fragment. The last paragraph reads like jacket copy, which is exactly what will sell this.
BOTTOM LINE: Tighten this pitch up and let the plot, premise, and characters shine through. Once people get a sense of it, I think this is a book we'll see published. Have you checked out Broad Universe? You might find a publishing home for Duality through one of the small presses involved with them.