Take this with a grain of salt. YA is not my thing, but you gave me some great insight so the least I can do is try and return the favor. Also, #4 is the first of your queries I've read.
Dear [Agent Name]:
Fogbound is a 90k word young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. It’s a standalone book, but leaves lots of mysteries unresolved for potential sequels.
Hal didn’t just
find a tattered bag sealed with five unusual locks; he found a memory -- his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him never forget this. Found doesn't feel like the right verb. If something is thrust upon you, you did not find it. To find the right verb might mean reconfiguring the sentence or not.
The problem is that Hal has forgotten -- not just about the bag, but about the mysterious accident five years ago that left his dad in a coma. Now, as his dad’s medical bills pile up and his condition continues to deteriorate, he and his mom are growing increasingly desperate. This locked bag, and the secret it represents, might be the only chance to wake his dad. Damn I hate writing query letters. I might move the first sentence of this para to the end of it.
For your consideration...
Now, as his dad’s medical bills pile up and his condition continues to deteriorate, he and his mom are growing increasingly desperate. This locked bag, and the secret it represents, might be the only chance to wake his dad. The problem is that Hal has forgotten -- not just about the bag, but about the mysterious accident five years ago that left his dad in a coma.
Though that last clause would need to be adjusted. This has the benefit of tightening the link between para 2 (end with the bag) & 3 (start with the bag).
Unfortunately, Hal’s not the only one that wants the bag. Pursued by a TV-antennae worshiping cult, an underground guild of the city’s homeless guarding a dark secret, and a commune of former rockstar magical hippies, Hal has no idea what he has stumbled into.
I'd kind of like to know how they met as a way of introducing her. But there is one person who seems to know what is going on: a runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth or that she is perpetually threatening him with mace. She doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness. Good set up of relationship.
But if they’re going to save his dad and find her grandmother, they’re going to need to learn not just to work together but to trust each other. Because not only will their journey to find the keys take them to underground labyrinths and a wandering bookstore (love this), but into the deepest and most secret memories inside each other’s heads. (Memory seems so important here... almost like a magic system. Might want a little more attention. Memory seems to be one of the major things a stake and also a tool).
Thank you for your consideration,
Would like to see a little more "voice" in the letter. Something indicative of your style. This is admittedly very difficult to do in such a constricted format of a query letter.