Sunday, May 20, 2012

You had me at hello : Books that Hooked

The first 'big-kid' book I ever owned was Little Women (thanks Nan!). Inside, the lady that gave it to me pasted a sticker that read: 

         Books fall open, you fall in.

My whole life, this has been so true: I don't just read books, I devour them. I lose myself in them. 

Or it was true. Don't get me wrong, I still love to immerse myself in a story - and I try to do so on a regular basis - but the fact of the matter is that it takes more to hook me than it used to. So I love it when I find a book that just grabs me from page one.
Here are a few recent reads that 'had me at hello':

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos - R.L. LaFevers
I usually read YA, not MG, but oh the snarkiness of this protag! I adored her!

Circle Nine - Anne Heltzel
This one sucked me in by the beautifully confusing chaos of its MC's mind. I couldn't put it down because I had to figure out what the heck was going on.

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
In the post-Twilight years, I was so skeptical of werewolf stories. But reading Ms. Stiefvater was such a lovely experience.

The Iron Thorn - Caitlin Kitteridge
I mean how can you not be hooked with an opener like: "There are seventeen madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I've visited all of them." ?!?? Answer: you can't - you must read on!

Of course that's just a few books. There are so many others that could populate this list... Chime by Franny Billingsley, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Soulless by Gail Carriger, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale etc...

So what is it that hooks?
Looking back at all of these examples, it's the voice that grabs me. The distinctive attitude of the narrator, the lyricism of the author, the flavor of the story. I might not have heard anything about the novel or feel sort of "meh" about the description on the dust jacket, but if the voice grabs me, I'm gone.

Have you had any 'had me at hello' reads recently? Which books hooked you from the very start? What are your favorite first chapters/first lines? Is it the voice that hooks you too? Or something else?


  1. The first few lines of The Iron Thorn are amazing. I don't think I could ever come up with something as dark and intriguing as that. Melina Marchetta writes the most 'had me at hello' books. I always end up staying up all night reading her books!

  2. I keep seeing Shiver all over the place. I'll have to check it out :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  3. Freakin' LOVE Shiver!!

    Hmm...and recently, I loved the voice of PAST PERFECT by Leila Sales. it is a contemporary younger YA (more for the 14-16 year olds), but it was SO funny. It took place at a historical re-enactment camp where they dressed up as people from the American Revolution. Kind of like Colonial Williamsburg.



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