Book Beginnings: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

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What is Book Beginnings?

“Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.” (Source: Rose City Reader)

The Sentence:

We’re only a few minutes into our quiz when the sirens start, and the first thing I feel is relief, even though I know that’s totally wrong, totally not how I should feel.

– from Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


It’s actually the entire paragraph that is really the grabber. Without giving away spoilers, let me put it this way: this is from a kid’s point of view. A kid who’s so reluctant to deal with a biology test he’s not prepared for that he is brought comfort by the sound of sirens. The meaning of a siren is pretty universal: they are harbingers of ill-tiding, be it an attack, bad weather, or reminders about procedures mean to keep one safe. For that reason alone, this puts us right in middle of the action on the book’s first page. It’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, so far I’m enjoying the book.

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