16 YA Books That Grab You From the Very First Line

Charm and StrangeConfession: I judge books by their covers. I also judge them by their first lines. Did the opening sentence pique my curiosity? Make me laugh? Give me chills? Elicit envy because I didn’t write it? Here’s what I’ve learned: It’s really freaking tough to beat the first line of M.T. Anderson’s classic YA sci-fi, Feed. (“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”) However, that doesn’t stop me from looking for contenders. If you’re having trouble deciding what YA to read next, check out the first lines below, culled from new and recent releases in a variety of genres. Each one stopped me in my tracks with about a zillion burning questions…

Best first line that fills me with dread:

“I don’t feel the presence of God here.”
Charm & Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn

Best first line that drives me nuts with curiosity:

“As Duncan walked through the stone archway leading into the senior dorm, he had two things on his mind: What “treasure” had been left behind for him and his Tragedy Paper.”
The Tragedy Paper, by Elizabeth Laban

Best first line that surprised me AND cracked me up:

“Charlie and I are getting our asses punched.”
Dan vs. Nature, by Don Calame


Best first line that evokes Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

“Chapter the first, in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.”
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness

Best first line that makes me love the narrator:

“The gunman is useless. I know it. He knows it. The whole bank knows it.”
I am the Messenger, by Marcus Zusak

Best first line that makes me want to meet this family:

“Dad was like China, full of sad irony and ancient secrets.”
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by L. Tam Holland


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Best first line that scares the tar out of me:

“When I’ve wailed for so long and so hard that my throat is in shreds and my fingernails ripped and fingertips bloody from clawing at the door, I collapse in front of it curled up like a dead cat I saw on an otherwise spotless sidewalk as a child once.”
Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin

Best first line that makes me giggle with anticipation:

“We, the undersigned, agree to document our journeys in search of true love and/or sex. No detail is too small, too humiliating, too stupid.”
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys), by Amy Spalding

Best first line that immediately breaks my heart:

“The first thing that happens is I unseal an envelope and Dad’s death falls out onto the breakfast table.”
Thirteen Days of Midnight, by Leo Hunt

Best first line that has me dying to know the secret:

“In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret.”
Of Beast and Beauty, by Stacey Jay

Best first line that makes me worry about the protag:

“I am a girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white. Remember this.”
Flawed, by Cecilia Ahern

Best first line that conjures up scary mamas:

“Is it still kidnapping if your mom lets them take you?”
Trust Me, by Romily Bernard

Best first line that steals my breath:

“Kerosene slopped from the rusty pail and splashed against the abandoned stable. Fumes burned my eyes but didn’t blur my father’s silhouette as he faced the building, bucket in hand. It would burn, and, with it, the body inside.”
The May Queen Murders, by Sarah Jude

Best first line that gives my heart a flutter:

“I knew I was in love with Verona Cove on the first day, but I waited until the seventh day to commit.”
When We Collided, by Emery Lord

Best first line written in hardboiled noir style:

“Two times, a gunshot changed Lucille’s life. The first time, at least, she hadn’t pulled the trigger.”
Girl About Town, by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan

Best first line that makes me guffaw:

“I have no idea how to write this stupid book.”
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews


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