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Best Opening Lines in Young Adult Books

The first sentences of books set the tone for the entire novel and can grip readers or lose them right away – that’s why I love reading the best opening lines in YA books.

None may be as profound as the classics, but some lines below will certainly make you sit up and take notice.

What do you think are the best opening lines in young adult books?

Best Opening Lines in Young Adult Books


“You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand.” – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

“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.” – The Fault in Our Stars

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” – Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone

“Here’s everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either is. Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, and a lot of kings named Louis.” – Anna and the French Kiss

“I’ve been shot. And, as it turns out, a bullet wound is even more uncomfortable than I had imagined.” – Destroy Me

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – The Hobbit

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.” – Divergent

“The basement hallways in King’s College of Medical Research were dark, even in the daytime. At night they were like a grave.” – The Madman’s Daughter

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” – The Raven Boys

“I wake up. Immediately I have to figure out who I am.” – Every Day

“The hours were bad.The tips were wrose, and the majority of my co-workers definitely left something to be desired, btu c’est la vie, que sera sera, insert foreign language cliche of your choice here.” – The Naturals

“The early morning 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.” – Uglies

“I remember being born. In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich sympony of indigestion.” – Seraphina

“It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since scientists perfected a cure.” Delirium

I’m sure there are some best opening lines I missed, but theses are definitely noteworthy and very strong story starts.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Sassy

    Great list! You forgot only one: “My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.” – Jellicoe Road

  • Very good selections. Many of them are new to me. I love the opening line to “Harry Potter.” One other favorite not on your list: “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.” – Twilight.

  • Debbie

    “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.” From The Knife of Never Letting Go.

    • Debbie – I JUST HEARD about The Knife of Never Letting Go and I need to read it!! Did you like it overall??

  • Andrea Caproni

    β€œIt is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”
    ― Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

  • Pingback: Top Ten Posts of 2013 + 2014 Reading Goals | Read. Breathe. Relax. | Young adult book reviews and fantasy book reviews()

  • crcscout

    “Simon Glass was easy to hate….I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn’t realize it until the day we killed him.”

    Shattering Glass by Gail Giles. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

  • rene d.

    Thanks for a great list! Here’s another: “I disappeared on the night before my 12th birthday.” Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

  • Rachel Elizabeth Canner

    Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of encredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities instead on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

    • Kimberli Barkman-Hiller

      This is my favorite book. Of all time. πŸ™‚ and it is my favorite opening line. Thank you for putting it out there!

  • Kimberli Barkman-Hiller

    “The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World”
    -Going Bovine, Libba Bray

  • diddly

    Father and I sat and watched as mother dug our air raid shelter, “she’s a great little woman” said father, “and getting smaller all the time” I added – Adolfo Hitler my part in his downfall – Spike Milligan

  • Aryn

    I am a socially awkward mandork.

  • Rebekah

    Uhhhh, Hello? Percy Jackson!
    “Look, I never wanted to be a Demi-God.”

  • amygc96

    “i remembered that it hurt, looking at her hurt.” – not sure from where i heard it, but, i can’t forget it.

    • that’s from the movie Stuck in Love. It’s my favorite movie, but not from a real book, sadly.

  • Ivory Hancock

    Legend! “My mother thinks I’m dead.” -Marie Lu
    And Crewel. “They came in the night.” -Gennifer Albin

  • Mary Margaret

    β€œThere was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” Rather lame classic book, imo, but good opening.

  • Ris

    Thanks! I love each of them and they give me a lot of inspiration for creating my own opening line!

    – lifearoundris.com