Different Types of Beginnings
I characterize beginnings loosely into three different types:
1) 0-60mph in 3 seconds: There are some books that I know from the moment I begin it that I’m going to like it. Often there’s a great action sequence. But most often it’s because the writing and I click just like *that*. I usually – but not always – end up loving these books.
- Examples: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.
- I loved them all. The characters’ voices were what attracted me most to these books. There’s a feeling that the characters and I are old friends.
- Examples: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, which I loved. I can’t think of any others off hand, which fits with the definitely of the category.
- Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison. Struggled to get past the first page; gave up at page 40.
- Iron King by Julie Kagawa. A rare success with this category. I hated the beginning of this novel and couldn’t stand how Meghan Chase lusted after the out-of-her-league popular guy. But on the basis of reader recommendations, I kept going and fell in love with the series.
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I actually put this book down for a few months. I didn’t love it until 2/3 of the way through when everything made sense. Now the beginning feels incredible.
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Much like the circus, the beginning of this book is magical and mysterious. It set a tone that I didn’t appreciate for a long while.
- Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Similar to Jellicoe Road, it took me at least halfway through the book before I appreciated it. The atmospherics were beautiful but the characters held themselves at arms length for a long time.
- The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. On the other hand, some books take so long to get going that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I sort of liked this book, but didn’t start really enjoying the series until the second book.
I am most likely to love a book if its beginning is (1) Fast or (2) Confusing. The realization is confusing in and of itself. The impetus for writing this discussion post was the realization that the books I love most were often not the ones I liked the best at the beginning. And that led me to wonder if confusing beginnings were ideal. Like many things in life, I often appreciate things that I have to work for at first. Perhaps I like books because of their difficult beginnings not in spite of them.
On the other hand, shouldn’t the ideal book be the entire package with a great beginning, middle, and end? I love the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I instantly love a book. There’s nothing quite like a reader’s high. While I understand the value of working to appreciate a book, I’m reading for fun. I want the book to entertain me, rather than feel like I have entertain the book (in a matter of speaking). Of course, a lot of these instant click books are mind candy that won’t stand the test of time. But not all of them. The favorites I listed in my examples are well written books that I will likely re-read.