What Are Some of the Best First Lines in Teen Fiction?

What are some of the best first lines in teen fiction?

“Start off with a bang” they always say, and how true that is. When I’m at a store browsing through books, there are three things that affects my decision on whether to purchase it or not:

1) The book’s description on the back

2) The book’s reviews (normally displayed on the first few pages)

3) The first few lines

The third item in particular is known as the book’s hook: the sentences formed together to draw the reader into the story and hold onto their attention until the very last page of their novel. For Young Adult fiction in particular, there are many great hooks. Here are some of my favorites (and why I love them):

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games:

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

– Suzanne Collins

What is this ‘reaping’ and why is it giving someone nightmares? Clearly it’s something unpleasant. I want to know more about it.


The City of Ember

The City of Ember

When the city of Ember was just built and not yet inhabited, the chief builder and the assistant builder, both of them weary, sat down to speak of the future.
“They must not leave the city for at least two hundred years,” said the chief builder. “Or perhaps two hundred and twenty.”
“Is that long enough?” asked his assistant.
“It should be. We can’t know for sure.”

– Jeanne DuPrau

Immediately I’m intrigued by this City of Ember, and why must the people not leave it for two hundred years? Especially when the normal lifespan is around eighty? Are these people special in some way that they can outlive a normal human?




I was raised in a gaunt house with a garden; my earliest recollections are of floating lights in the apple-trees.
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

-M.T. Anderson

How does someone manage to go to the moon just to have fun? And why does the moon suck? It’s so foreign and mysterious. There must be more to this story. The only way to find out is to keep reading.



The Uglies

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.
Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right. The scudding clouds did look a bit fishy, rippled into scales by a high-altitude wind. As the light faded, deep blue gaps of night peered through like an upside-down ocean, bottomless and cold. Any other summer, a sunset like this would have been beautiful. But nothing had been beautiful since Peris turned pretty. Losing your best friend sucks, even if it’s only for three months and two days.

– Scott Westerfeld

I love the description of the sky. Right off the bat, we can tell that Tally is a pessimist and much of this has to do with her best friend Peris turning ‘pretty.’ How can someone just turn pretty all of a sudden?

I love these teen books. After reading the first line from each of them, I was immediately drawn into their dystopian/urban fantasy world and found that I needed to know more about the settings, the characters, or the situations. I just wanted to keep reading, which ultimately is the biggest compliment to any writer.
What are some of your favorite first lines in teen fiction, or any fiction for that matter?