Fangirl Fridays – First Lines

A few days ago, I received a new book, a book I was not sure I wanted to read. I opened it anyway and read the first few lines:
Some say my story began when my parents were murdered. It did not. Others say it began when I died. They are wrong. I remember the pain.

Okay, I was hooked and had to go on reading. I had to know what happened. She is telling the story, obviously alive, so what is that line about dying? What happened to her parents?

That led me to ponder on the first few lines of books. What do I feel when I start my read, based on these sentences? Sometimes they hook me like the example above. Other times, they make me smile or wonder. Sometimes I close the book and never come back to it.

I collected a few examples from books that most of us know and love, and I tried to remember my reaction to their first lines. It’s not easy; I’m biased because I already know the rest of each story, but I here’s what I came up with...

These introductory lines are taken from the preface or first chapter of books that either stand alone or begin a series.

Source: Fever Moon
My philosophy is pretty simple — any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between man and faery came down.
~ Darkfever, Karen Marie Moning

These lines from the prologue piqued my interest and curiosity like nothing else at the time. The narrator is in constant danger. There are fairies here, and there is chaos all around. I got so much from so few lines. And then, you know, we all got much more!

Pride and Prejudice, BBC
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
~ Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

You know the period in which Jane Austen wrote, you can feel the irony in her words “ want of a wife”, the social expectation of that time. I just wanted to know how it would happen, considering the book title.

I’m pretty much fucked.
~ The Martian, Andy Weir

The whole story is in this first sentence. I could feel him and feel for him.

At first, I wondered if it was karmic punishment. I’d sneered at the fancy vampires, and as some kind of cosmic retribution, I’d been made one.
~ Some Girls Bite, Chloe Neill

The narrator had me at these first lines, that voice intrigued me. I so wanted to know more, and quickly.

People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars. Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations. Usually.

~ Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

There was great mystery here, I felt it... I wanted to know who disappeared. How? That last word — usually — said so much.

Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious. Outside our condo window, the sky flames like a bruised mango in vivid orange, reds, and purples. The clouds catch on fire with sunset colors, and I’m almost scared those of us caught below will catch on fire too.
~ Angelfall, Susan Ee

Here is a beautiful description of sunset that gives a clue to the narrator’s life. I knew instantly I must read it.

“Somebody stabbed you in the neck, young lady.” My eyes widen, and I slowly turn toward the elderly gentleman standing at my side. He presses the up button on the elevator and faces me. He smiles and points to my neck. “Your birthmark,” he says.
~ Ugly Love, Colleen Hoover

A punch in the first line, Omg she was stabbed at the beginning! Now what? And then — “your birthmark”. Ahh, a relief. That’s how to grab my attention!

I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck. I pulled over, holding my breath as the sheriff came to my window.
~ Halfway to the Grave, Jeannine Frost

Oh, what was in that truck? I held my breath and waited...

She had been running for four days now, a harum-scarum tumbling flight through passages and tunnels. She was hungry, and exhausted, and more tired than a body could stand, and each successive door was proving harder to open.
~ Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

Who? What? Why? Oh poor girl, I wanted more so I kept reading and tumbled down the rabbit hole.

I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house. I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on. The bottle lost.
~ Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews

So much information here. Our leading lady (the cover shows a woman) is alone, talking to herself. Her world has magic and the magic is not stable. She is kind of sarcastic. I already loved her.

I’d been having the same dream for the past month — the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadows to play doctor with me. I was starting to wonder if repetitive exposure to nightly hallucinations resulting in earth-shattering cl**axes could have any long-term side effects. Death via extreme pleasure was a serious concern. The prospect led to the following dilemma: Do I seek help or buy drinks all around?
~ First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones.

Smexy dreams with dry wit, a dark stranger, and hilarious sarcasm. I was a goner from the start.

Had the man in front of her not already been dead, Chess probably would have tried to kill him. Damned ghosts. A year and a half she’d gone without having to deal with one — the best Debunking record in the Church.
Now when she needed her bonus more than ever, there he was. Mocking her. Floating a few feet off the parquet floor of the Sanfords’ comfortable suburban split-level in the heart of Cross Town, with his arms folded and a bored look on his face.

~ Unholy Ghosts, Stacia Kane

Such an odd beginning. I knew I was facing a strange and different kind of story. I was not sure about it but these lines had a pull on me.

The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another.
~ Cinder, Marissa Meyer

Oh, I thought, what a provocative description, what a beautiful cover.

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement.
~ The Fellowship ofthe Ring, J.R.R Tolkien

I didn’t know a thing about the epic tale that would arise from the above story; I thought I was going to read a lovely fairytale.

I’ve had such a difficult time choosing these lines and books, because there are so many that I love. This could be an endless post, but I feel it is getting too long, so I’m wrapping it up with a the first few lines from The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon:
It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off in his hand — if he could find it. The thought passed through his sleep-mazed mind like one of the small, icy drafts that darted through the loft, making him open his eyes.

OK OK, this is not the first book in the series, but I HAD to include this wonderful first sentence. Most of you know the “he” in this quote — Jamie Fraser — or would like to know him and maybe help him in this unfortunate situation... These few lines certainly stir our imagination, don’t they?

Outlander, Starz Network

Do you have any favorite opening lines? I’m sure you do... What lines are stuck in your head?


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