Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which we list our top tens of different topics each week!
This week’s topic is “top ten favourite beginnings and endings in books”.
There’ll be five favourite beginnings and five favourite endings. This is not all, rather just a few that I remember the most.
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1. Prologue of Silvermay by James Moloney
Should I tell you of the first time I saw him, when he was still just a figure on the road like so many others who passed through Haywode, stopping only for a bowl of broth at the inn? In quiet moments since, I’ve wondered whether I sensed my fate even then, but, as quickly as the idea forms, I push it away with a sour laugh. I don’t believe in fate, a destiny made up by cruel gods so girls like me can be their living toys. What I cannot dismiss so lightly, what I never want to forget, is the thrill that danced across my skin when he threw back his hood and looked at me.
Or should I tell you, instead, that I’ve held a blanket over a baby’s face to smother it, and to this day I’m not entirely sure I was wrong to do it?
Does my confession shock you? It should, because no baby deserves to die. Does it? Does it! Answer now, before you hear any more, because I have a story to tell and the dilemma that wrenched my stomach as I grasped that blanket might soon become yours. …
What gripped me immediately was the brutal honesty of our protagonist Silvermay. It also made me want to keep reading to learn more about Silvermay and the baby and the man she wanted to tell the truth to. This reminds me: I need to get onto Tamlyn and Lucien as soon as I can, though I read Silvermay back in 2011…
2. Chapter 1, page 1-2 of Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
“‘I will never really leave,’ said the unicorn. Diamond sparkles floated from the tip of its glittering silver horn. ‘I will always live in your heart.’”
I swallowed the bile rising in my throat and forced myself to continue reading.
“Then the unicorn turned and galloped away, its fluffy pink tail swinging merrily as it spread its iridescent wings to the morning sunshine.”
Oh, no. Not wings, too.
“Every time the unicorn’s lavender hooves touched the east, a tinkling like the chime of a thousand fairy bells floated back toward the children.”
Shuddering, I raised my head from the picture book to look at the rapt, upturned faces of my charges. Bethany Myerson, aged six, was holding back tears as the unicorn big good-bye to its new friends. Brittany Myerson, aged four, was chewing on the tail of her stuffed poodle.
And I, Astrid Llewelyn, aged sixteen, just wanted the brats to go to sleep. “I think that’s enough for tonight, huh, girls?”
“No!” They shrieked in unison.
What is so hilarious about this is that the picture book story foreshadows what the unicorns in this book are NOT like. An animal prettified in stories, but later you’ll learn they’re brutal beasts. The juxtaposition with this beginning to when you actually face off with the unicorns, when Astrid describes them, when they gore people, is fascinating, and Diana Peterfreund was smart to write Rampant like this.
3. Chapter 1, page 1 of Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Daddy said, “Let Mom go first.”
Mom wanted me to of first. I think it was because she was afraid that after they were contained and frozen, I’d walk away, return to life rather than consign myself to that cold, clear box. But Daddy insisted.
Will she? Won’t she? In this first chapter of Across the Universe you wonder if Amy will follow her parents to be cryogenically frozen or return home, parentless, alone, but unafraid of the future unknown. This intrigued me a lot and I wanted to keep reading because of it.
And if you’ve read Shades of Earth it’s surprising how Amy evolves and the impact her parents play.
4. Chapter 1, page 1 of The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
There are seventeen madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I’ve visited all of them.
First: Lovecraft. A book inspired by Lovecraft is good stuff. You’ll know it will be dark and gritty, bleak and cold. Then there’s the “seventeen madhouses” and you wonder some more. And why she has visited all of them. And then you learn it’s because of her mother, her mother is mad. With this world around them, you want to know more, learn more.
5. Chapter 1, page 1 of The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Michael spoke against the wind, to a girl named Tanya.
“I know it’s water down there, but it might as well be concrete. You’ll be flat as a pancake the second you hit.”
Not the most comforting choice of words when talking to someone who wanted to end her life, but it was certainly the truth. Tanya had just climbed over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge, cars zooming by on the road, and was leaning back toward the open air, her twitchy hands holding on to a pole wet with ist. Even if somehow MIchael could talk her out of jumping, those slippery fingers might get the job done anyway. And then it’d be lights-out. He pictured some poor sap of a fisherman thinking he’d finally caught the big one, only to reel in a nasty surprise.
“Stop joking,” the trembling girl responded. “It’s not a game – not anymore.”
Michael was inside the VirtNet – the Sleep, to people who went in as often as he did. He was used to seeing scared people there. A lot of them. Yet underneath the fear was usually the knowing. Knowing deep down that no matter what was happening in the Sleep, it wasn’t real.
This is the most recent book I had read and I was absolutely pulled in from the first page. To begin with someone committing suicide creates a false sense of security, and with the fact that it isn’t real, that it’s in a virtual reality, a game, you wonder what it could all mean and whether Michael will be able to help her. (Review of The Eye of Minds will be posted on the 12th if you’re interested.)
1. Page 584 of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
• A Last Note From Your Narrator •
I am haunted by humans.
Why I love this ending I have no idea. Probably because Death fears humans and their strength and tenacity even through the darkest times. At first he thought they were objects incapable of anything, incapable of changing fate, far from knowing hope. Care to expand? I am haunted by wrongfully elaborating on something.
2. Epilogue, page 390 of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.
I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are much worse games to play.
All I can say is: L. O. V. E. This ending is sweet, motherly, but you know it’s not happy, because the heroine we’ve loved will continue to be fractured, broken, haunted by nightmares and her past. I just love it, and it’s no secret that Mockingjay is my favourite of the trilogy.
3. Aftermath Four, page 435 of Light by Michael Grant
She put her hand back on his chest, then moved close still to kiss his neck. ‘It’s over, Sam. Finally.’
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘I guess it is.’
‘Turn out the light, Sam.’
Sam reached for the switched and turned out the light.
Urghh. Amazing! The thing is, in the first book Gone we learn that Sam has been afraid of the dark. So to see the last of him turning off the light, to retreat into the darkness to sleep, is a proud feeling after following him for six books. The way this series ended was bliss, in the way that it concludes in a respectful manner to the characters. Sam also turns the light off knowing that he has experience much more darkness and fear while in the FAYZ than the physical darkness he was scared of meeting in the first place.
4. Epilogue of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
‘Each of you must decide where you stand,’ she called. ‘All we ask is that you refuse to kneel. You are the people. You have the power. Open your eyes. Open your minds. Then close the gibers on your hand.’
The arashitora leaper into the air, lightning crackling across the tips of its feathers. Up, up into the choking skies they soared, the sound of beating wings building like the storm to come. And with a fierce cry, they wheeled away and turned back to the north, to bring fire and smoke and the promise of a new day.
Sumiko watched them fly away, the scent of fresh flowers filling her lungs.
SHe looked around at the assembled people, young and old, man and woman and child, each face upturned and alight with wonder.
She nodded her head.
And into the poisoned air, she raised a fist.
Resolved. No cliffhanger. A complete first book. The ending of defiance, of people standing tall, no longer afraid, no longer kneeling at the feet of people who think they have the power to do what they like. And it keeps you guessing what may happen in Kinslayer, the sequel, because anything could happen (well my review for Kinslayer will be up in a couple days time!).
5. Chapter 63 of Reached by Ally Condie
Ky leans in to kiss me and I close my eyes to better feel the omen of waiting and want before our lips meet.
There is ebb and flow. Leaving and coming. Flight and fall.
Sing and silent.
Reaching and reached.
One of the most subtle endings I have read. One of the most beautiful endings I have read. Poetic. Beautiful. And with the last word being ‘reached’ it surely makes it worthwhile.
• • •
Finally the post is done. But what do you think? Are any of these beginnings or ending your favourite?
What are your favourite beginnings and endings if not any of these?