Young Adult Fiction

YA Novels: Hooked in Five Sentences or Less

It’s late at night. You’ve just finished a book on your e-reader and are dying for something new to read. But how much time will you give a sample chapter to lure you in?

For me personally, I’ve found that new late-night reads need to hook me in five sentences or less, that way I can sink my teeth into them right away

I’ve chosen three excerpts from books I’ve loved that have ‘hooked me in five sentences or less‘. I’ll tell you why they appealed to me as a READERS and what we can take away as WRITERS.

From The Selection by Kiera Cass

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her plan brilliant plan was me.

AS A READER: I’m loving the title, and the fact that there is a mysterious letter. I love mail! I also immediately like this girl.

AS A WRITER: Right away we are hearing the MC’s voice and already know of a conflict brewing.

From Between Shade of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

They took me in my nightgown. Thinking back, the signs were there — family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work.

AS A READER: I can feel that this is a historical novel that sucks you into its time and place right away. I want to know what happens to this girl.

AS A WRITER: The MC’s voice, character, and family are introduced right away. You are also informed about into a huge conflict the MC faces.

From Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

“Wait — did you — You just yawned!” The vampire’s arms, raised over his head in the Classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips. “What, imminent death isn’t exciting enough for you?”

AS A READER: I can’t help it. I love paranormal. And I loved this because right away I knew it was different — it was funny!

AS A WRITER: The writer takes a normal subject and brings her own twist in a humorous way, enticing readers to read more and find out what her ‘different’ is all about.

What books have you read that have hooked you in five sentences or less?


  • Mirka Breen

    Seems this sort of ‘get them right away’ is easier with first person narration. The first two examples you gave clearly jolt us into the MC’s head. For great examples of third person narration I would suggest many of Richard Peck’s novels, and any of Charles Dickens’.

  • Christine Marie Alemshah

    Mirka — That’s true! Very valid observation. I have read novels written in third person POV that have drawn me in right away. As you mentioned your are not ‘jolted into the MC’s head right away’, but rather engaged in the story for different reasons. If I write another “Hooked” post, I will be sure to include them.

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