Thanks Kathryn! added a very minor tweak which I think might clarify the "key to the success" thing.
things I'm not crazy about in this version: 1.the phrase "soon finds love in that world; with a girl..." feels really awkward. I need a better link between phrases there. I think it probably needs to be clearer that he's falling in love with her in the virtual world too. I think I've improved upon the link with the phrase "and he does find...one that belongs". Let me know if you agree/disagree. 2. not 100% sure on the closing sentence, but I do like it, as I feel it adds a bit of internal conflict to the external threat of death 3. calling it fantasy - while the book does probably read more like fantasy once you're a good ways in, I've come to the conclusion that labeling it sci-fi is probably more accurate given my query, and because sci-fi elements enable the fantasy stuff in the first place. 4. im considering cutting the "strangers who want him dead in fifteen days" and replacing it with "not that any of them would return the favor." 5. The link between "every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love" and "twisting the knife" isn't quite right.
^ I think I've addressed the above. Let me know what you think!
Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.
In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.
But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.
Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's heart. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.
THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.