Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Beginnings/Endings

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I've discovered in compiling this list that I am a reader of middles. I enjoy the climaxes and sudden revelations, the deepening plots and character lines that come in the sweet interiors of my books. When a thrill over a book's "ending," I usually mean the big, breath-taking climax, not the slowed resolution of the end. When I talk about loving a "beginning," I usually mean that I slip in easily, not that the very beginning had me on the edge of my seat. I don't know these people, so I'm not inclined to get worked up straight away. That said, there are some books that grab me hard in the beginning and leave me breathless to the last sentence.

My picks are below the jump so the pictures don't slow things down.

Beginnings:


Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
First sentence:
"Where am I?"
Last we knew, our heroine Cammie had set off on her own to parts unknown. When we rejoin her in the fifth Gallagher Girl book, she awakes in a mountaintop convent with no memory of the last five months. She's freaked, we're freaked for her, and it only gets more intense from here.


Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann
First sentence:
I remember being born.
Bam! Insta-awesome. It gets even better the more you read. Ms. Hartmann fills her story with lyricism and musical allegories that seep into your soul. Also, shapeshifting dragons and high-flying adventure, and who can argue with that?


All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
First paragraph:
At first I was just obstinate, dragging my feet in the thin prison slippers they gave me so they were forced to pull me along the hallway by both arms. But when I saw the drain, I started to scream. It grew in my vision until it dominated the little cinder-block cell, and I kicked at the men who held me, trying to wrench my arms out on their iron grip. I could only conjure the most gruesome scenarios for why they'd need a drain in the floor.
Who knew a simple drain could be so terrifying?


The Archived by Victoria Schwab
First four sentences:
The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South.

They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can't reach.

They remind me of smoke - the stale, settled kind - and of storms and damp earth.

Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.
Husky and seductive, Ms. Schwab's prose seeped into my bones from the first sentence. If any book can be dubbed "atmospheric," it's this one.


The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
First three sentences:
He was asleep, but woke at the sound of the key turning in the lock. The storage room held winter linens, and no one should have been interested in it in the middle of summer, and certainly not in the middle of the night. By the time the door was open, he had slipped through a square hole in the stones of the wall and soundlessly closed the metal door that covered it.
I cheated a bit on this one, because the "beginning" for me means the first five chapters or so. Even still, they comprise a beginning that I will never forget for as long as I live. To this day, I can't start this book without a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a tightness in my throat. I know what happens next.


Movie beginning: Sabrina (1995)
Opening monologue (can't find on YouTube):
Once upon a time, on the north shore of Long Island, not far from New York, there was a very very large mansion, almost a castle, where there lived a family by the name of Larrabee.

There were servants inside the mansion, and servants outside the mansion; boatmen to tend the boats, and six crews of gardeners: two for the solarium, the rest for the grounds, and a tree surgeon on retainer. There were specialists for the indoor tennis courts, and the outdoor tennis courts, the outdoor swimming pool, and the indoor swimming pool. And over the garage there lived a chauffeur by the name of Fairchild, imported from England years ago, together with a Rolls Royce; and a daughter, named Sabrina.
It's the most beautiful, soothing opening of all time, and Julia Ormond's narration starts this modern-day fairytale off not with a bang but with a chilled glass of Long Island iced tea.

*WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Endings:



The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Closing paragraph:
"Basileus," someone hidden in the steam whispered. Others echoed the praise. "Basileus."

Only Teleus shook his head. Costis watched him, not surprised. "The Basileus was a prince of his people, what we call a king now," Teleus explained. "That one" - he nodded toward the closed door - "will rule more than just Attolia before he is done. He is an Annux, a king of kings."
The end of Megan Whalen Turner books are always the best, because it is only in the end that we learn how thoroughly we have been fooled. The King of Attolia is the best of the best, because of the magnitude of Gen's trickery. Every single time I read it, I want to stand up and scream to every single character, "DAT RIGHT, BOI! YOU DONE BEEN FOOLED!" He tricks them all so thoroughly every single time, and it sends me into raptures.


Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Closing paragraph:
The Darkling had told her he was destined to rule. He had claimed his throne, and a part of her too. He was welcome to it. For the living and the dead, she would make herself a reckoning.

She would rise.
I've written a review for this book and am just waiting for the right time to post it. I don't want to spoil too much, but I can say that I loved the desolation left by the end of this book. And yet, amid the desolation, there was also hope. I felt like the prisoners of the pit in The Dark Knight Rises, chanting for Alina to rise.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Closing sentence:
I am haunted by humans.
Chills. That's all I can say. Chills.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Two sentences somewhere on the last page:
Please come back soon. The window is always open.
I can't give a context, due to spoilery reasons, but these two sentences found in a letter on the last page of the novel always made me choke up. As if this book didn't make me cry enough already.


The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Last three paragraphs:
I nod, knowing he offers friendship this time, that he is truly my loyal subject. "The four of us, then."

"You should have five!" Tristan protests. "For blessing and protection. It's the holy number."

I draw myself to my full height, and my voice rings clear when I say, "The fifth place is for Hector."
SWOOOOOON. Also, ANGST and ANGUISH. Waiting for the next book nearly killed me after this ending.


Movie ending: Wall-E (2008)
Closing credits:

I loved this ending. I loved the music, how the art progressed in complexity and history. I loved the hope.

Both:


Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer opens with a fight in a forest with a demon and a rescue by a thunder-tiger. Can't beat that, except with an even more amazing ending:
"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 fingers on your hand."

The arashitora leaped 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.