I am submitting this piece in hopes of finding honest critique. It's a short snippet from a first chapter (I won't ask you to slog through endless paragraphs). Please let me know what you think so I can make adjustments early in the process.
Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump! Sam hesitated at the cliff's edge, he knew just how long to wait to get maximum attention without pissing off the crowd. "Sam the ham", his mom would say. He launched himself away from the cliff and in a split second the ice cold river swallowed him down.
He gives a strong kick and stroke toward the surface then opens his eyes. The cold is shocking at first and the dim, green depth gradually gives way to clear and light above. Focusing on the sunlight, he begins slowly blowing out to clear the water from his nose.
A sudden tug around his thighs and he realises that he can't kick. "Must be a vine or something", he thinks. Sam strokes his arms as hard as he can but he's going the wrong way. God, this can't be happening. He reaches down to his calves, where he feels the vine wrapped and unrelenting. As his fingers begin exploring he realizes it's not a vine pulling him down to the bottom of the icy river. Still, his mind can't grasp what's happening and he struggles upward.
He begins to feel the first nudges of his body's need for fresh oxygen and he goes back to the rope but the knot won't budge. Following the rope down, his lungs are now screaming for air and he knows it won't be long before his own reflexes will force him to exhale and inhale against his will.
What the...he screams and then helplessly breathes in, causing him to cough at first. He's surprised to find that the water doesn't rush into his lungs all at once but he can feel it trickling down, slowly. The air gives way to water and he feels a bubbling sensation in his chest. Desperate fingers try to release the rope from the device but they feel thick and awkward; he can't get them to work.
He's being pulled into a tunnel, slipping further and further into unconsciousness. He goes limp and fleetingly thinks, "it's not really that bad, dying".