Sunday, February 2, 2014



Everybody knows that book. You know, that book. The one you picked up while strolling through the bookstore. Nice cover with the interesting back jacket. Then you opened the first page.
That first line. The one that made you go: Whoa, I need this book.
Or maybe it wasn’t that in-your-face bold. Maybe it was more subtle. Maybe lyrically beautiful. Perhaps it just painted such a clear picture that you read on to lines two, three, and ten. You didn’t even realize that author had hooked you, possibly because you’re too busy having to know what happens next. That’s the kind of first line that all book lovers crave. The one that says, “Pick me out of a million other books here to take home forever!”
So, first lines, how important are they?
Turns out…very.
There are piles and piles of books to buy. Enough to reach the sky and who has room for that on their bookshelf? So here’s the deal: All these books and not enough room. Which ones make the cut? Probably not the one that started getting interesting on page 50. Truth is, readers want to be catapulted from their spot in that bookstore to a fictional world. We want to feel tucked between the pages, lost somewhere amongst so many words. And the first line is the place to do it. First lines can irrevocably draw a reader.
What is it that pulls a reader in? Which first lines make you have to know more? For me, it needs a dose of unexpected. A few young adult books on my shelf that absolutely, completely captivated me from the VERY FIRST LINE, and my thoughts:

“They say before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.” –BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
So, wait, she died? In the VERY FIRST line we learn this? Wow. I need to read this book.
“All I’ve learned in today’s Shakespeare class is: Sometimes you have to fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person.” –AS YOU WISH by Jackson Pearce
         Well, isn’t that the truth? Buying.
         “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” –THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
         What? Who’s going to die? And why? Let me just read one or two or a million more lines to find out.

         “You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand.” –BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Toucholke
         This is the first dialogue? Ought to be good. Need to know more.

         “My life could not possibly suck more than it does right now.” –TAKE ME THERE by Susane Colasanti
         Pretty much the story of my teenage life. Lets see if this character’s torment was anything like my own.

          “I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers.” SPLINTERED by A.G. Howard
          Creepy. Must buy.

         “They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.” THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa
         *blinks* Holy wow. An execution from the start? Badass.   

         These are some of my favorites. What are your favorite first lines? How far into a book are you willing to read before it gets interesting? Do first lines help you determine what stories to read?

***And for the record, all of these books turned out to be exceptional. I’d love to give away one of each, but for now I’ll leave you with a chance to win a SIGNED hardcover of THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa. Open to U.S. You’re welcome J *** 


Kristin Lenz said...

Welcome to YA Fusion, Amber! Thanks for the thoughtful post and giveaway.

Michelle Lee said...

“And sometimes, hope is the only thing that gets us through the day.” - The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Thank you for this amazing giveaway! I love The Immortal Rules series and I can't wait for her third to come out!

Lisa Tapp said...

I agree. First lines are important. With a passable first line, I'll give a book up to three pages, but if I'm not hooked by then, I'm done.
Welcome to the group, Amber!

Kurt Hampe said...

Welcome to YA Fusion, and thanks for pointing out some must-read books.

There's a wonderful opening that goes along the lines of "Fred had been dead thirty days when the phone finally rang" I can't find the exact quote so that I can get it right and give proper credit, but I certainly want to know who is calling.

For humor, Douglas Adams started The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, with,"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'”

And for setting, William Gibson's Burning Chrome. "It was hot, the night we burned Chrome. Out in the malls and plazas, moths were batting themselves to death against the neon, but in Bobby’s loft the only light came from a monitor screen and the green and red LEDs on the face of the matrix simulator"

Heather Smith Meloche said...

I love reading first lines. Some of them are so creative and interesting, it's almost like they could stand alone as their own art form without the rest of the book! Glad to have you on our blog team, Amber!

Amber Hart said...

Thanks for the warm welcome's :)

Great first lines Michelle & Kurt!

Crystal Collier said...

Yikes. Those are some pretty epic first lines.

I used to totally geek out on first lines. Lately I've traded that for plot fascination. I think the first line/paragraph better have the reader asking a question, but more importantly, I had better be invested in this character by the end of the first page, and then needing to know more by the end of the chapter. I guess what I'm getting at is, there had better be multiple hooks in the opening of the book.

Colette Ballard said...

"When i stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, i had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." The Outsiders. I've always loved this--it tells so much about the MC from that very first line. :)
Fun post, Amber--welcome to the team! :)

Amber Hart said...

For sure, Crystal. Plot def has to be strong. :)

Thanks, Colette!