First Impressions 5.4.12

May the Fourth be with you! You know I had to get that out of the way.

Now, for this week’s First Impressions, let’s add something new. After reading the following opening passages, leave a comment saying which ones would compel you to read more, but also guess where you think the stories are headed. I love seeing people’s different interpretations, and how we pick up on different details. I don’t have any idea what the real plots are because I’ve read only these openers, so we’re all in this game together.

Here goes:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Hyperion, out May 15


I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers—and even though I am a girl they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-HauptsturmfĂĽhrer von Loewe, I know I am a coward. And I’m going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail.


The Demands by Mark Billingham, Mulholland Books, June 12

Chewing gum and chocolate, maybe a bottle of water on those hen’s teeth days when the sun was shining. A paper for the journey into work and half a minute of meaningless chat while she was waiting for her change.

Nothing there worth dying for.

Helen Weeks would tell herself much the same thing many times before it was over. In the hours spent staring at the small black hole from which death could emerge in less time than it took for her heart to beat. Or stop beating. In those slow-motion moments of terror that measured out each day and in the sleepless nights that followed. While the man who might kill her at any moment was shouting at himself just a few feet away, or crying in the next room.

It is not my time to die.

Or my baby’s time to lose his mother…


The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow, Simon & Schuster, June 19

[The numbers denote chapters.]


Fuck me.

2. Laguna Beach, California


Is what O is thinking as she sits between Chon and Ben on a bench at Main Beach and picks out potential mates for them.

That one?” she asks, pointing at a classic BB (Basically Baywatch) strolling down the boardwalk.

Chon shakes his head.

A little dismissively, O thinks. Chon is pretty choosy for a guy who spends most of his time in Afghanistan or Iraq and doesn’t see much in the way of anything outside cammies or a burqa.

Actually, she can see how the burqa thing could be pretty hot if you played it right.

Did, you know, the harem thing.

Yeah, no.

OK, have at ’em!



  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    May 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Code Name Verity opening is … not great. Which disappoints me because I’ve heard good things and have it on my Nook. BUT – if the overall story is good, I’m ok with that. I won’t divulge since I know what it’s supposed to be about.

    This one sounds freaky, like that crazy sick scene in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Another weirdo. Sounds like there could be torture. Eek. I’m curious though.

    The Winslow. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve grown to really love books that use the “f” word. BEAT THE REAPER being the best in terms of usage and new-to-me words. But the rest is sort of confusing.

    Ooh, this is fun. I demand more! 🙂

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      May 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this, Jenn, because I am, too.

      It was coincidence that the first two excerpts seem to be about women being imprisoned. I recently read two other books in which a girl or woman was kidnapped and imprisoned somewhere. This theme makes me nervous but for now I’ll continue reading to see what happens. I had to abandon one of the other books because it got too sick.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Fuck you. Fuck me. God I love Winslow. Even more so knowing the story behind Savages Chapter 1. Can’t wait for Kings of Cool, so this almost isn’t fair and there’s no way I can’t let me allegiances bleed into my analysis. Winslow has been one of my three favorite writers for more than twenty years. So yeah, KOC takes the first slot here.

    I also read Mark’s work, so tough to put prior history aside. I generally like his work and read the Tom Thorne series. The opening to this doesn’t GRAB me, but the story intrigues me. Two different things. I do want to read/know more and likely will pick this one up. More because of a history with Billingham than the actual opening.

    Code Name Verity. Hmmm. Tough one. Have heard nothing about this one. I relate to the opening as I grew up on a street full of boys. But as soon as we go SS, I start to think historical fiction. Nothing wrong with historical fiction, it’s just not my bag. So while I might pick this up if I hear great things about it and learn more about the story and it interests me, I’m not likely to keep going based on this opening.

    • Reply
      May 4, 2012 at 8:06 am

      P.S. I’m STILL wondering about that pink chaise lounge from last week, so if I didn’t put that book first I screwed up.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    May the 4th be with you?! Ugh! The date completely slipped my mind. Someone said that to me on the phone this morning and I just thought they mispronounced a Star Wars reference. I just said, “Oh. Thanks.” Geez, I’m out it.

    Alright, down to business, um, er, commentary..

    CODE NAME VERITY – I was interested and very invested in the narrative until she mentions that H.R. Puffinstuff name. Call me a snob, but it suddenly went from edgy to cartoonish as soon as that name entered the page.

    DEMANDS – Meh. I kept staring at the shiny avatar for Winslow’s new book sitting just below this entry. I know, not fair…

    THE KINGS OF COOL – Does it really matter what those first words are? I’m gonna read it since I’m such a huge Don Winslow fan, so it it’s not really fair to the other authors listed here.

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    May 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    If I didn’t already know I am going to love the Winslow book, I might not be as intrigued by it as I am by the Billingham book. But I do know.

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