Unfortunately, I didn't make it past the first round of the hook contest on Fangs, Fur & Fey. The long and the short of the criticism is that the judge didn't like my main character. That's a bit of a risk I have with this project because the book starts with the main character in a rough place. Her parents have yanked her out of her home and moved her to the suburbs and she hates it, and them, and the whole fucking world. Of course, she starts lightening up by chapter two, because unremittting anger and sarcasm gets tired after a (very short) while, but apparently I put too much of that into my hook and the judge basically thought my main character was a bitch and didn't care about her.
The judge also said that the hook should focus on the relationship the main character has with her parents, which clued me in to the fact that the judge probably wasn't a YA writer. Generally, in YA, the less parents the better. Kids don't like to read about adults, they like to read about other kids, because that is where their world is focused. When I think of my teenage years, my mother hardly exists to me. She was there, but she was usually stopping me from doing what I wanted to do (with good reason, looking back on it). So parents are a bother, a nuisance, a problem to be overcome. Now, of course, the main character's parents play a role in the book, and we see her growing relationship to them, but that's not the focus of the story - it's really about the main character's relationship with the world around her. To focus the hook on her relationship with her parents is to distort the story of the book.
Of course, that doesn't mean I'm saying "bite me" to the judge - the critique is valid. In the hook I submitted, I did not convey the complicated nature of the relationship the main character has with her parents, so they seemed like plot devices to the judge. That's a problem that needs to be remedied, just like the problem that the main character seems like a bitch. Fair enough, fair enough.
But it still sucks that I didn't make it past the first round.