Writer's View: Best First Chapters

I've had some creative writing teachers tell me that writers have to hook a reader with the first sentence. I don't actually agree with that. I've never chucked a book when I'm not shot to the moon with the first sentence; I've never met anyone who does that. I do, however, think the first few chapters of a book are crucial. Most folks I know will always read a few chapters before deciding whether or not to put a book down.

This just got me thinking about some of the best opening hooks I've read. Here are my top 3:

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

I just can't stop talking about this series. The novel opens with a mother watching her newly-zombified toddler reach under the door jam with his bloody little fingers. I was reduced to blubbering tears almost immediately. Maybe it's because I'm a mom, and I could totally imagine the horror experienced my the main character.



The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am a rabid fan of The Hunger Games. I was completely sucked in by the opening of this novel when Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place in The Hunger Games. Again, the opening chapters had me sobbing uncontrollably. My experience of this novel was from the perspective of a parent. I am unable to imagine how awful it would be to lose a child to something as morbid and gruesome as The Hunger Games.


Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Okay, so this opening didn't leave me in tears. (Truly, I don't cry over EVERYTHING -- just lots of things! Like movie previews and newspaper stories.) Instead, it had me laughing outloud. The main character, Hiro Protagonist (I am not even joking -- that is his name) is the "Deliverator" -- aka, a pizza delivery boy for the mafia. Hilarity ensues as he has to battle rush hour traffic and a skateboarding punk to deliver his pizza on time -- or risk the wrath of Uncle Enzo, the head of said-mafia. Seriosuly, how could I not be hooked by something so totally wacky and fun? Oh, and did I mention that the bad guy is a super-sexy badass who rides a motorcycle that doubles as a nuclear missile?

So, what are some other books with killer openings? I've love to hear your thoughts on this!