Many people believe that the most powerful way to grab a reader’s attention is with a pretty cover and a captivating synopsis, and while this may be true, I also believe that a significant and compelling first sentence is also incredibly important.
When deciding which book to pick up and read from the library or buy from the bookstore, I usually open the book and read the first sentence. That sentence may be able to tell me if this is a book I will enjoy. A powerful first sentence will capture my attention and force my hand, whereas a sloppy sentence will show that this will not be a book I will enjoy. It can show me the type of writing style to expect within the book and it may even tell me how much work has gone into the editing of the book.
A strong, meaningful first sentence will sweep me off my feet and compel me to continue reading – probably right there in the store or library.
Of course, the first sentence doesn’t guarantee that I will like the rest of the book, it may have been an entire fluke but, more often than not, that sentence will set me up for the rest of the book – as it should. There have been many famous first sentences throughout history – such as the first sentence in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
But moving away from that, I am going to show you all the first sentences of ten more recent YA reads that I fell in love with. The books themselves were all incredibly amazing and should be read fully, but let’s just let these powerful first sentences speak for themselves, shall we?
“They tried to make me go to my sister’s funeral today.”
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid.
“There is one mirror in my house.”
Divergent by Veronica Rossi.
“The night Jake Djones found out that his parents were lost somewhere in history was one of the stormiest on record.”
The History Keepers: The Storm Begins by Damian Dibben.
“Our mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better.”
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood.
“Keeping secrets isn’t my speciality.”
Speechless by Hannah Harrington.
“Lex wondered, for a fleeting moment, what her principal’s head might look like if it were stabbed atop a giant wooden spear.”
Croak by Gina Damico.
“The self-defense class had been a waste of sixty bucks.”
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer
“I loved being a burrito.”
Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Corriell
“My world is a dark and lonely place.”
Emerald City by Alicia K. Leppert
“Despite the physical strain of climbing up rocky trails all day, Danny Michaelson had never been happier.”
Undermountain by Eric Edstrom
If there are any of these books that you haven’t read, I would highly recommend them as they were all simply stunning pieces of work. I had a hard time choosing some great first sentences, and some I couldn’t include because I don’t own the books and don’t have the greatest memory in the world but these ones all pulled me in to the story I was about to read and did not let me down in the slightest.
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling.
I may be the only person who still appreciates first sentences but if I’m not, are there any great first sentences that you love? I’d love to hear them!
I want to take this moment to say a thank you to Raimy for hosting me on her blog today.