It is a truth universally acknowledged. that a single reader in possession of a new book, must be in want of an interesting opening line. Hah, see what I did there? Opening lines truly can be the make or break of a novel and it’s fun to take a look back over them, especially once you’ve finished the book. How well does it relate to the story as a whole? Some of them immediately get you thinking, others engage with the action, and some are just plain damn funny. Here’s a list of some of my favourites!
Pride and Prejudice – 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.”
What I adore about this opening line, even if I haven’t read the whole novel yet, is that it encompasses the essence of the plot without giving too much away. From this we know that marriage is going to be a big theme in the story but we also get an immediate hint at the outspoken voice of Elizabeth Bennett, who perhaps does not subscribe to the notion of being a wife quite so easily as her peers.
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
“Is today a good day to die?”
I don’t think it gets any more hard hitting than that. Straight to the punch, hit you whilst you’re down. This book is not shy about the heavy topics it’s going to be dealing with and let’s the audience know straight away. Aside from that, it’s one of the best hooks for a book. Is today a good day to die? I don’t know, why do you want to know dearest character? Is any day a good day to die?
Radio Silence – Alice Oseman
“In distress. Stuck in Universe City. Send help.”
Bit of a cheat here with the physical first line rather than the first sentence. Also, this book hasn’t quite come out yet so I haven’t read it all and therefore don’t know how it ties in with the rest of the story (yet). However, I get the feeling this is an initial summarising sentence for the characters of the novel: they’re lost and distressed by the choices they have to make, in particular regarding university (universe city = uni vs city, anyone?).
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
“After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.”
I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to read this book what will? There’s a bit of intrigue as we question how she became a slave in the first place, what she did to deserve it, and why exactly this girl is as dangerous as it appears she is. There’s already a bit of resignation in Celaena’s voice but also that overwhelming hint of smart-talking aggression.
We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach
“‘It’s not the end of the world,’ Stacy said.”
I love this opening line for no other reason than the sheer irony. If you haven’t read this book it is, if you haven’t already guessed, about the apocalypse. The literal end of the world. And the book opens with a character blindly announcing it is not the end of the world (little did she know…) I didn’t enjoy the book that much as a whole but this is a classic, hilarious opening line.
The Next Together – Lauren James
“The last time they were together, it was late evening and they were being followed.”
Coupled with the synopsis this reveals that the last time they were together isn’t the same way you and I might have last been together, this makes for a very suspenseful opening. Their last together wasn’t at the cinemas last week but was, in fact, in another life. This is a reincarnation romance which immediately draws the reader in with its plot dangling. I also think it’s great because it includes a clever spin on the title being the next together. I love clever wordplay.