Monday, October 17, 2011

YA Opening Lines that I Love

Everyone has a favorite opening line. This week I'm writing about my favorite and giving away a copy of the excellent new book, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and Kei Acedera. Read on to find out how to share your favorite first line and why and you could win it!

As I thought about this it's really not right to say that I have one favorite opener in all of YA. I have dozens. They're each unique and mean different things, so they're impossible to compare. This week I chose one of my favorites: the first line of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. The narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, has started to keep a diary and she’s writing in the kitchen sink of the decaying castle that her family owns.

There are a few reasons why I like this so much.

First, there's the absurdity of writing in the sink. People don’t generally write in the sink, they write in chairs. It tells me that the narrator is unconventional

Second, the reason why Cassandra is writing in the sink – when she explains it, you learn a lot about her including the fact that she wants to be a writer, how her house looks and smells (it is in ruins) and the size of her family and where they are. It’s a great place to start exposition from and often, when I’m trying to place a character, I think of Cassandra in the center of the house, writing in the sink.

Third it gives you a good idea of the type of humor the author used. It’s funny it sets your expectations.

What's your favorite line in a YA book? Enter it into the comments below (don't forget to give me your email) and you could win a copy of Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and Kei Acedera!


  1. I would have to say one of my favorite most memorable lines would have to be from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
    "I'd never given much thought to how I would die-though I'd had reason enough in the last few months-but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this." That is from the epilogue. I loved this book and the whole entire series.
    Thanks for the giveaway and would love to win and read this book.
    GFC & blog follower: Chris Bails

  2. "My small Southern hometown is beautiful in the haunting way an aging debutante is beautiful." from Hourglass by Myra McEntire.
    Can't find good enough words to express exactly how good this book is! :)

    little [dot] bumble [dot] bee [dot] 88 [at] gmail [dot] com

  3. "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit." - Scott Westerfeld, "Uglies"

    It sets the tone, I think. :)

  4. "The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car." (The Last Olympian) It definitely sets up what's about to happen, but it's also so patently absurd that you laugh at it. It's the same balance the rest of the book- the rest of the series, even- maintains.

    Dot Hutchison
    requiemofrain (at) hotmail (dot) com

  5. I was honestly thinking of "I Capture the Castle" when I started reading your post. And I am not just saying that. haha That book is one of my favorites for many reasons. But, since you already chose that book, I will share one line that I really enjoy from a YA series.
    "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say." (The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness)
    I love this line because it starts off with something unusual and it draws you in to the novel. And the unconventional words used is genius to me because it makes sure that the character is connected to the reader. I also love this line because I absolutely adore the dog Manchee! <3

  6. I love the first line from Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
    "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

    terilhack at yahoo dot com

  7. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

    That sentence really caught me as well as the novel. I have loved Lauren Oliver's other works and this was sounds quite amazing also. Thank you for the giveaway.

  8. oops
    kasuranna at yahoo dot com

    fogot the email ;)

  9. This is hard to beat and both the book and the movie are icons in my home.
    “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”

    The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    haha! never can get enough of the princess bride.

    bookittome at gmail dot com

  10. One of my favorite first lines is from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

    "First the colors."

    It's such a simple line to start out a brilliant piece of literature.

    nalynboni AT gmail DOT com

  11. One of many, many, many:

    Even the dead tell stories. - Marcus Sedgwick, Revolver


  12. 'The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.' - Paper Towns, John Green

    Charleevale AT post DOT com