Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great first lines

A book's opening lines should hook the reader into wanting to read more. Here are some recent books for teens with some terrific first lines that should make you want to ask, "what happens next?" Find copies here on BookBag using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes.

Absolutely, Positively Not, by David LaRochelle (Arthur A. Levine Books) Fiction. "Everybody has at least one ugly secret, and mine is as ugly as they come. I square dance. With my mother." Not only does 16-year-old Steven DeNarski square dance, he likes it. He also likes looking at the International Male catalog that he's kept secreted under his mattress for more than a year, but despite this fact, he has decided to prove to himself and the world that he is absolutely, positively not gay. This hilarious story is a fun read for anyone, of any persuasion, who likes comic misadventures and characters who struggle to be true to themselves.

The White Darkness: A Novel, by Geraldine McCaughrean (HarperTempest) Adventure. "I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now--which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years." Titus Oates was an Antarctic explorer, and Symone has always been fascinated by Antarctica--so she's thrilled when her "Uncle" Victor asks her to accompany him on a trip there. When members of their expedition group begin falling ill and the plane meant to fly them home explodes, it becomes clear that something has gone seriously wrong. As the situation deteriorates, Sym's Antarctic adventure becomes a nightmarish struggle to survive in some of the harshest terrain on the planet, and she begins to question Victor's trustworthiness.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press) Science Fiction. "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything." Todd Hewitt is the very last boy in Prentisstown, a dismal human settlement on an alien planet where the thoughts of men and animals are constantly audible (no one, in fact, can keep from hearing them). Todd does his best to stay out of trouble and tune out the maddening, ever-present Noise, but after he makes a startling discovery, he's forced to flee with only his loyal but none-too-bright dog, Manchee. Featuring a fascinating world, breathless suspense, and touches of horror, this 1st book in the Chaos Walking trilogy will keep you riveted and leave you desperate to read the next installment, The Ask and the Answer.

The Death Collector, by Justin Richards (Bloomsbury) Horror/Mystery. "Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea." This unexpected reappearance is but one symptom of the monstrous evil that a madman has unleashed on the streets of Victorian London, and three courageous teens--Eddie, a street urchin; George, a clockmaker; and Elizabeth, a budding actress--are determined to thwart his sinister plan. With a scrap from a secret diary, they hope to solve the mystery of some missing dinosaur eggs, a reanimated corpse, and the fire-breathing creature that's roaming Londontown at night. If you like author Justin Richards' Invisible Detective mystery series and don't mind a bit of gore, you'll love this twisty ride.

Haters, by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Little, Brown) Fiction. "You know it's bad news when your dad comes back to Taos from a two-week business trip to Los Angeles wearing designer sunglasses and a velour Juicy men's tracksuit." When Pasquala Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta (Paski)'s geeky-but-loveable single dad sells the film rights for one of his cartoons, the two of them move from New Mexico to L.A. Money and looks are all that seem to matter at Paski's new school, and while Paski is beautiful, in comparison to her wealthy classmates she's underprivileged. But she has some special talents to help her deal with her version of the movie Mean Girls: she's a skilled mountain-biker and has inherited her family's gift of visions. If you like your realistic fiction with a hint of magic and your female characters sassy, don't miss Haters.

The Kayla Chronicles: A Novel, by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown) Fiction. "Stankalicious!" Kayla Dean, 14-year-old feminist, shy girl, budding investigative reporter, and word-coiner (see the previous sentence for an example) is being pressured by her best friend, Rosalie, into auditioning for Royal Palm Academy's Lady Lions dance team. Rosalie's politics are toward the strident end of the feminism scale, and she's out to prove that the ultra-hot Lady Lions only choose dancers who are more generously endowed than A-cup Kayla is. But what if Kayla actually makes the team and likes being a booty-shaking Lady Lion? Can she be empowered even if she wants to wear really cute shoes? This smart, funny story about friendship and girl power is chock-full o' funktaciousness (defined in the book's "Lexicon of Kayla-isms").

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