I judge books by their first line.
When I can’t decide which book to read next I’ll go with the book that has the strongest first sentence. If a book has a memorable or quirky first line I know I’m in for a good journey! That’s not to say a great book can’t have a dull first line; when picking my top 5 first lines I was surprise at how many of my all time favourite novels didn’t have a remarkable hook.
What lines stood out to me? What makes a first line good?
My top 5 first lines in science fiction and fantasy books!
Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
I love the first line from Children of Blood and Bone. It packs a punch and makes me ask so many questions after reading only two words of the book. Pick who? For what? Who is doing the picking? Read my review of Children of Blood and Bone. Also shout out to that time I met Tomi in an elevator!
Redshirts – John Scalzi
From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q’eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well, this sucks.
Redshirts is a hilarious, wild ride and that’s evident from the very fist line. John Scalzi’s sense of humour aligns with mine perfectly. If you’re looking for a laugh (and a great plot!) definitely check this one out.
The Never Ending Sacrifice – Una McCormack
While he was still a young man, Rugal Pa’Dar experienced loss,
separation, a brutal frontier war, and the attempted destruction of his species.
The first line from The Never Ending Sacrifice (Star Trek Deep Space Nine) basically tells us what is to come in this wonderful story in a matter of fact way. Almost like a thesis statement. It’s direct and to the point, but also leaves you craving how these things come to be. It’s no surprise that this is not only my favourite Star Trek book, but also one of my favourite books ever. Read my review!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Iconic. That’s all.
Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache.
This first line may be my favourite of the bunch. It’s just so delightfully weird! The tone of the duology is set right from the start and the rest of the story did not disappoint.
What are your favourite first lines? What makes a first sentence great?