Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREEN TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
This is a deleted/alternate scene in The Culling, when malevolent Slade plunges the Recruits into the Sea, shortly after their first meeting. Originally, the entire second act of the novel depicted Lucian and the gang battling the elements, trying to reach the main compound as one big survival test. During revisions, the middle of the novel evolved into more of a training segment, which made greater sense, given the Recruits lack of military skills. Unfortunately, this little hallucinatory snippet, which highlights Lucian’s love for his mother and brother, Cole, as well as his fears, was lost on the cutting room floor.
I somersault through the air. My stomach roils as it struggles to keep up with the rest of me. Then I plunge down the same endless tunnel my mind’s been tumbling through ever since the last time I saw Cole on Recruitment Day, his face growing further and further away the more I reach out to him. Icy needles rip through my skin. Something punches the breath from my lungs. I try to gasp, but my mouth fills with salty ice.
So this is what it feels like to drown. Many times I thought death was a visitor to be welcomed, but now that it’s knocking at my door, I want to bolt the lock shut, run away, cower in some dark place where it won’t find me. My body convulses. Each jerk pumps fear into my veins. As the darkness envelops me, my last thought is that I’ve failed my little brother before I’ve even begun.
The blackness turns to a murky gray, growing lighter and lighter until my eyes squint
against bright sunshine. I’m in a lush field, painted in the most vivid green I’ve ever seen. Standing as tall as my eyes can see is The Lady from Cole’s story, her torch burning brightly, book clutched to her bosom. She’s staring off at her gleaming city, a skyline of the tallest structures I’ve ever seen.
Then she turns her gaze on me. Huge eyes pierce my flesh. I bow my head.
Shame washes over me. I’m unworthy to meet the benevolence seeking me out.
“Lucian,” her voice calls, and I shrink from its power. But I’m drawn to it like a tired sun
to the western sky.
When I gather enough courage to meet her eyes, she smiles at me. I gasp. It’s no longer
the Lady’s face. It’s my own mother’s. And nestled in her arm is a baby instead of a book.
A baby I know better than I know myself.
My mother continues to beam. Though she’s no longer the size of a statue, she’s grander
than a thousand Ladies. Gliding toward me, she looks more beautiful and alive than I’ve ever seen. Her hair is long and full. Each strand imprisons the sun’s rays, unlike the scraggly gray patches that came away with each caress as she lay dying on that weathered cot. Her cheeks swell with pink, not sunken and pasty. But it’s her eyes that touch me the most. They’re vibrant and warm, filled with traces of something I’ve barely glimpsed in my sixteen years, let alone on my mother’s face.
Is that hope she’s looking at me with?
I want to throw my arms around her, ask her to forgive me for failing her and Dad and
losing Cole, let her know I can’t go on without her.
I can’t go on alone.
But she continues to beam at me, holding out the baby.
I take the infant from her and stare down at his face. He’s so tiny, so helpless. He needs
When I look back up at my mother, she’s gone, as are The Lady, the City. Everything. In panic, I turn back to the bundle in my arms, and find only an empty blanket.
He’s gone. Cole’s gone and I’ll never see him again. The bright day surrenders to dusk, then night.