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December 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: First Lines, take two

Kate Hart
Last week I did a variation on Teaser Tuesday using the first lines of some popular YA novels. It was so much fun I thought I'd do it again this week-- starting with suggestions I got in the comments. Feel free to leave me more suggestions!

Cory said: "Don't forget Austen and Pride and Prejudice. Best. First. Line. Ever."
And now I have to hide from her, because I don't have a single Austen title on my shelf. I read it though! A long time ago! I swear! But I looked it up:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

I... I don't know what to say to that. But I might read on, if for no other reason than to argue with the author. (Full disclosure: I wasn't an Austen fan in high school and haven't tried again since. Also, if I disappear, check Cory's closet. Just saying.)

Emilia said: "My favorite first line ever: "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit." Scott Westerfield, Uglies :D"

That one I haven't read-- but now I might have to pick it up. See? First lines can work.

Okay, what else is on my desk...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."

This book is insanely popular, but I will admit-- it took me until the sequel to really get into it. This line almost lost me in two ways: One, because it's first person present, which I generally hate;* two, because waking up alone just isn't that interesting. But the short intro paragraph ends with the line, "This is the day of the reaping." The what now? Cha-ching. I read on.

*The difference between this book's 1st PP and others? This one is well done enough that after a page, I forgot I hate it. 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
"My mother used to tell me about the ocean."

WTH doesn't she know about the ocean? Also, this cover rocks. I'm hooked.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
"So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee."

LOVE. I'm a sucker for awesome imagery. Also, this cover is bad ass.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
"It was a dark and stormy night."

Oh, Madeleine L'Engle. How your first line has been lambasted. (I may never get the chance to use that word on this blog again, so please forgive me for taking the opportunity.) It's actually the chapter title that grabs my attention: "Mrs. Whatsit." Mrs. Who? Oh no, that's chapter two. I'm in.

A few not so YA titles...

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie."

A lot of people love this line, but it's the second line that grabs me: "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." (Psst... want to win a copy of this book? Enter the contest here. You should have lots of first lines to choose from...)

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
"We slept in what had once been the gymnasium."

I love when first lines give a little information and make you wonder about a lot more. Why isn't it a gym anymore? Why are they sleeping there? I keep reading to find that "Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric cattle prods..."  Wait, what?!? Like most families, we have our days, but my aunts sure as hell never tased me. I'm reading on.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
"When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake-- not a very big one."

I have no snake phobia to deter me from reading on, so although I don't care about the culinary habits of swine, I'll give it a chance. The second paragraph begins, "'You pigs git,' Augustus said, kicking the shoat," and I'll admit-- I think, "He talks like me. I'm in love." Okay, maybe not exactly. But without quoting the entire first page, I like the slow, easy Texas afternoon that McMurtry creates. It rings true and that bodes well for the rest of the story.

And finally, a non-fiction title: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
"Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't."

Okay, I'll bite. Does it? "A printed banner has apeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. 'Come inside,' it says, 'for CD's, VIDEO'S, DVD'S, and BOOK'S.'"

Aughhhh! Head explodes. Bells rung. Reading on. Prepare yourselves to hear a lot more about this book in the near future.


  1. Ha! The P&P line is satirical. Austen was commenting on a young woman's sole need to find a husband, the wealthier the better. Definitely read. Austen has our snarky sense of humor in a polite, old-fashioned kind of way.

  2. I know. And the aunts in Handmaid's Tale aren't really her aunts. LOL I was just trying to imagine what my first glance gut reaction would be.

    But I'm glad you aren't carting me away to your closet.

  3. I like the first line of Vampire Academy:

    I felt her fear before I heard her screams.

    Boom--I'm intrigued. I mean, how is that possible?

    Also, in Story of a Girl:

    I was thirteen when my dad caughte me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy's Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Monatar at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night.

    Yeah, it's a mouthful, but what a moutful it is! :)

    Fun post, Kate! We studied this same thing in one of my online classes!

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  5. Great compilation ;) I haven't read any Austen, either! Two of my friends keep ranting to me about how great Mr. Darcy is, though, so I might break down... someday.

  6. Nice post! I myself am not grabbed by the cat vomit line, I think because I haven't really experienced much cat vomit, so it doesn't conjure up a vivid picture. :-P But I loooove The Forest of Hands and Teeth line. Actually, I think the title would pull me in from the getgo even if the first line sucked.

    I also like the first line of HP1:

    "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

    Particularly the "thank you very much."

  7. LOL - I love Austen. She was a brilliant humorist - if you can see the satire. Which I know you can.

    I adore Eat, Shoots, and Leaves. One of the most brilliant pieces of printed anything ever.

  8. Deb, I'll definitely use those next time I do one of these posts. Thanks!

    Emilia, there's just so much stuff out there that I want to read that it's been hard to make myself go back to it! Maybe we should make a P&P pact someday. ;)

    Veronia-- I mentioned HP on my first of these posts, and said almost exactly the same thing. Great minds think alike!

    Kristin, you know sarcasm isn't my thing.

    (see what I did there?)

    Thanks for all the comments!

  9. Um, were you being sarcastic? O_O

    Yeah, and I totally meant because you *do* see the satire, not *can* see it.

    (little tongue sticking out face thingie to convey humorist tone because we can't send voice inflections/rolling eyes over the internet.)

    (but i can *mail* you rolling eyes if you'd like . . .)

  10. Hahahahaha I soooo love THE LOVELY BONES :)

  11. The lovely bones was one of the first YA books that actually touched me.

    Oh my. Wintergirls. *drools*

  12. Some of those are GREAT. I've noticed a lot of books that don't necessarily have great first lines have something intriguing in the first paragraph (like you mentioned with The Hunger Games). And speaking of, that's the book that got rid of my (kind of pointless) prejudice against present tense. (Only brought that up since you mentioned it!)

  13. I agree with you about the second line in "Lovely Bones" having more impact. For me, I think it's because when I first read the book, my oldest daughter was 14 -- and I think that may also have been the year Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, and she was 14. (I may be wrong about Elizabeth Smart, though...) I'm on a weird jag, reading wise, with some non-fiction titles, including Debt-Free Millionaire by Anthony Manganiello. Not sure I'll be a millionaire but I'm sure working on the getting out of debt part. (Lots of great tips!) This isn't the opening sentence but it's on page 1:

    "In fact, I can almost guarantee that there’s a millionaire in your life right now—one that you’re not only on a first-name basis with but also dining with, vacationing with, and even sleeping with. The millionaire I’m talking about is . . . you."

  14. No, I don't remember ever tasing you.

  15. Augh!!! I CANNOT wait for "The Lovely Bones" to come out. I read that book over and over again. I can't wait to trailer without crying...I'm going to be a basket case at the theater!


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