Opening Lines

Was that an earthquake or did you just rock my world?

Okay, we may not be trying to pick-up girls, but we are trying to pick-up readers. First lines and first impressions are important! And it’s amazing how much a first line can tell you about a book; including tone, character, and intrigue.

What does a reader look for in a first line? I decided to find out first hand. For a fun Friday night, I headed to my local book bar (store) to put the YA book-bachelors to the test. I would randomly pick fifty books, read one line only, and let the most interesting and compelling line (in my opinion) pick me up. Or more accurately I would pick it up, and take it back to my place for a little cozy one-on-one time. And after one saucy night of literary bedazzlement, the following openers rose to the top of the stack:

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” – M.T. Anderson’s Feed

“The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone.” – M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow

“Finn has been flung on his face and chained to the stone slabs of the transitway.” – Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron

“I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.” – Maggie Strefrater’s Shiver

“Everyone’s seen my mother naked.” – Elizabeth Scott’s Something, Maybe

“Paradise sucked until I found the suicide note.” – Caroly Macker’s Tangled

“Holly will always be immune from the damage that infects me so easily.” – Ibi Kaslik’s Skinny

But who got to snuggle up with me on my sofa? That would be…

“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow, and in a way, I suppose that’s true.” – Gayle Forman’s If I Stay

If I Stay caught my attention because there is something intriguing and poetic about the first line, mysterious and sad. But what you would pick is probably different. Just like dating, there’s a different book (and first line) for everyone. I suggest you go out and try this exercise for yourself. Who will make you swoon?

Also, (if you want more opinions) you can check out the American Book Review’s: 100 Best First Lines of Novels

What about you? Who’s first lines made you turn a page or two? Please leave a comment and share!

3 thoughts on “Opening Lines

  1. “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.”
    Patrick Ness – The Knife of Never Letting Go’ How could you not read on…’s got everything, voice, intrigue, humour,

  2. “I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now — which is ridiculous, since he’s been dead for ninety years.”

    –The White Darkness, Geraldine McCaughrean

  3. “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice — not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

    A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

    What a way to pack a punch with a first line! This almost serves as a one-sentence summary of the entire book.

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