12 powerful first lines from YA books that promise a great read

Those first few words are everything.


As Brandon Sanderson has taught (and many others have said), the beginning of a book is where the author and the reader come into an agreement. The author makes a promise. That promise can be anything: humor, wit, intrigue, suspense. In short: the beginning of the book sets expectations for a reader.

So it goes without saying that the opening lines of a book may be the most important words in the entire story.

As readers, we love when a book throws us headfirst into the lives of beautiful characters and spectacular worlds. There’s something exciting about bending that spine for the first time, turning over the first page and losing yourself. Reading a good book is an experience that can stick with a person for a lifetime.

So in honor of all those good books and the great promises kept: Here are some of our favorite opening lines from 10 classic YA books.

10 Amazing Opening Lines

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

First the colours.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

When it comes to the streets, there’s rules.

Angie Thomas, Concrete Rose

The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle House,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.

Rick Riordan, The Lost Hero

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me. I didn’t think I was a particularly disobedient daughter, but this was where I drew the line.

I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One. I didn’t even want to try.

Kiera Cass, The Selection

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.

Scott Westerfeld, Uglies

It didn’t take much for Quan to decide he was leaving this time. He feels a little bit bad, yeah: knowing Dasia and Gabe are still in the house makes his stomach hurt the way it always does when he finds himself faced with grown-people problems he can’t fix. But Quan’s only nine. Running away alone will be hard enough.

Nic Stone, Dear Justyce

At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time–between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M.–by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.

John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops. Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot? Ribbons for my hair. Love letters. Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.

Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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.

Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

What are your favorite opening lines? Leave them in the comments!

Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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