She was supposed to live like anyone else. To live like death was faraway, a concept more than a reality. I had meant for her to go through life in a series of steps. Ordinary steps. Go to grade school. Then middle school. Have her first crush, her first period. Then high school. Have her first boyfriend, her first disappointing sexual encounter. Graduate. Then college. Have her first successful sexual encounter. Pick a career. Graduate. Get a job in her career of choice. Get engaged. Get married. Have kids. Watch those kids do all the things she did. Retire. Then die.
“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”
I was looking through The Best Opening Lines from Books and I couldn’t help but comment on this one. I remember how popular this book was in grade school. As an eleven year old girl with a weight problem you can bet I was hardcore into setting myself apart from the crowd, and being an individual. This meant I was walking around with printed pictures of anime characters strung around my neck like necklaces and wearing punky wristbands. What it did NOT mean was giving into the “in” book of the moment. Also, to be honest I was a lazy kid and reading a series longer than three or four books was daunting to me. But I gave in.
This, in my opinion, is one of the best hooks ever written for its genre. It plays on the urge all young children and tweens have to blatantly rebel against orders. This opening line wasn’t just a polite suggestion, it was a challenge, it was the author putting her book out there, then asking you to put it down when you already had it in your hands. So as soon as you read that line you marched up to the register and demanded your guardian purchase this book for you so you could show it that you were grown up and could handle a little tragedy. This is something you would later take back when you found yourself smashing your head against a wall a wondering when these poor orphans would finally catch a break.
The only downfall? It doesn’t really hold you out for the entire series. At least it didn’t for me. Somewhere between borrowing the fourth book from the library, never bringing it back, and then donating it to Good Will, I could make it to the tenth book… or was it eleven?
I had to share this. I think it’s pretty relevant considering that half of this blog is hooks, and this person is basically cataloging what they think are the best 100 opening lines from books. I’m busy with studying for an exam that I have soon, but hopefully I can make a few short posts about what I think of these opening lines before I get back to the reviewing business.
Next will either be “Bossypants” by Tina Fey or something else…
Livian Brian let his gaze drift over me slowly, and small hairs at the back of my neck stood on end. The exchange took less than a second, but it revealed to me that he too had learned to pass inspection. It was dangerous, and more than I was frightened that he could pass, I was terrified that he knew I could as well. He had the power to, in an instant, expose me and effectively draw my careful planning to a close. If he were anyone but Livian Brian I might have had the same power over him, but as it were I didn’t.
Inside Flap of the Book: Dante looked around, making sure there was no one who might overhear him. Then he leaned forward and, lowering his voice, said, “I still have dreams.” It was the most shocking thing Bea had ever heard. “Dr. Sigmundus says that disturbances of the mind which come to people when they sleep are the result of a psychic illness,” she replied. It was what she had been taught at school, and for as long as she could remember.
Review: The Hollow People is a novel set on an isolated island called Tarnagar where the lives of its people revolve around the upkeep of the asylum located there. Status is a very important thing in this world, which is why Dante, marked with the lowest status for being the child of a inmate, is convinced that his existence is completely insignificant. When a dangerous new criminal named Ezekiel is brought to the asylum and sets in motion a plan of rescuing Dante from Tarnagar, Dante learns that he is not only a significant person in this world, but an important weapon against Dr. Sigmundus, the Big Brother-esque dictator of the country.
This novel reminds me a lot of 1984 by George Orwell in that the citizens of this country are very careful about the decisions they make, and very concerned about how their actions are interpreted by others—but that’s only part of the novel. What really sets this novel apart from others of this style/genre is the supernatural element introduced later in the book—which I kind of hate. The supernatural element gives God-like powers to Ezekiel who has been a prisoner on Tarnagar for a month, receiving little food and getting shock treatments at least 3 times a week, but manages to successfully use his powers to help Dante escape. Yet after escaping and being well fed and taken care of for weeks, a shot that clips him in the shoulder renders him handicapped forcing Dante to use his magically super advanced powers to save the day… Bullshit. I call bullshit. It was like reading a well-written, but nevertheless shitty, fanfiction. So it’s not surprising to me that I haven’t hear a lot of hype about this novel since I bought it about 3 years ago. As a series, it may have gotten better, but I’ll never know, because I don’t plan on purchasing the other books unless Keany gets a movie deal.
The best thing about this book is that it really does seek to break the mold, not only does the supernatural element set this novel apart, but it also has small illustrations scattered throughout it, which appealed to the child inside of me that remembered sitting in the library reading Robert Munch picture books. The worst thing about this novel is the supernatural element. To help you understand, I’ll use Harry Potter as a parallel. Imagine a wizarding world where people try for years and years to learn how to ride a broom, and only Dumbledore and James Potter manage to succeed. Then Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts for the first time, Madame Hooch tell him how he should mount a broom, he mounts it, and instantly wins the Quidditch World Cup. Yeah, I think it sounds like a shitty idea too.
“Do you know, that before your mid-life crisis you have at least four other crises?”
That’s amazing, riveting, I think dryly. Jane likes to share things she’s learned with the rest of us. It, likely, makes her feel very cultured and intelligent. Not much intelligence in reading the first story you come upon in some lifestyle magazine at the dentist’s office. Without a source to credit validity simply comes down to performance.
And so I sit on a cream slip cover segmented couch, swirling the untouched wine in my glass. I don’t drink, I’d said.