A list of the beginning and closing lines of ten different novels.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Opening: “The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”
Closing: “All was well.”
Notes: I chose this because, well, it’s Harry Potter. Considering that it’s one of the bestselling series of all time, it’s a good one to learn from. This book definitely has one of my favorite endings.
Artemis Fowl The Atlantis Complex, by Eoin Colfer
Opening: “Artemis was once an Irish boy who longed to know everything there was to know, so he read book after book until his brain swelled with astronomy, calculus, quantum physics, romantic poets, forensic science, and anthropology, among a hundred other subjects.”
Closing: “’You certainly should,’” said Butler, and lumbered down the corridor, stepping around a pool of turnip soup.
Notes: I love this series. The first sentence does a wonderful job capturing Artemis’s character and grabbing the reader’s attention, while the closing demonstrates the books’ quirky sense of humor.
We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
Opening: “Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.”
Closing: “I endure.”
Notes: Both the beginning and end to this book are so brilliant that I could probably rant about it for pages. Since the writing style uses a lot of short, brief sentences, the lines themselves don’t appear extraordinary, but they’re powerful in their context. The beginning does a good job introducing the setting and conflict, and the end emotionally shows how this affects the main character.
The Name of This Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch
Opening: “Warning: Do not read beyond this page!”
Closing: “With greatest admiration and respect, P.B.”
Notes: I loved this series when I was younger. I just had to include it because the opening line is hilarious. And yes, the author continues to interact with the reader like that through the whole series.
Airman, Eoin Colfer
Opening: “Conor Broekhart was born to fly; or, more accurately, he was born flying.”
Closing: “’But men like us are different. We are visionaries.’”
Notes: The opening line catches the reader’s attention from the start, and the closing provides a sentimental and satisfying conclusion. I love how both show how Conor, the main character, is different in a positive way.
I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai
Opening: “I come from a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”
Closing: “My world has changed but I have not.”
Notes: To make this list a little more diverse, I chose a quote from a memoir. Although I don’t usually read this genre, the beginning grabbed my attention, and I love how the closing line shows where Malala is today.
Franny Parker, Hannah Roberts McKinnon
Opening: “When Grandma Rae Parker stole me away to the preacher on the morning of my kidnapped christening, she told him, ‘Bless this one just a mite bit more, if you will, dear reverend. She may be a Parker, but she’s got her mother’s look in her eye.’”
Closing: “And I grew.”
Notes: I didn’t expect to add this book, but when I was searching my shelf for good examples, I had to smile at these lines. The beginning is wonderfully quirky and endearing, while the end is sweet and sentimental.
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Opening: “First the colors. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try.”
Closing: “A LAST NOTE FROM YOU NARRORATOR: I am haunted by humans.”
Notes: As some of you already know, this is one of my favorite books of all time. The same goes for its opening and closing lines. In fact, the closing just might be my favorite of all time. I love the irony that Death, which usually haunts humans, reveals that humans haunt it.
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Opening: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent 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.”
Closing: “I do, Augustus. I do.”
Notes: Before I read the first sentence, I wasn’t really planning on reading this book, but it drew me in. The last lines are also very well done. They pull together the novel, point to the theme, and reflect a marriage vow. Though you do have to look at it in context to see all of that.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis
Opening: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
Closing: “The other is that back in our own world everyone soon started saying how Eustace had improved, and how “You’d never know him for the same boy”: everyone except Aunt Alberta, who said he had become very commonplace and tiresome and it must have been the influence of those Pevensie children.”
Notes: Out of all of these, this one just might win the grand prize. Aside from the humor, I love how both sentences develop Eustace. The first introduces him as the brat he begins as, and the second shows how his adventures over the course of the book changed him into a better person.