I'm going to post a few lines from the first page of a book (current or past read), and say whether or not I think it has Page One Wow. As always, feel free to chime in! Today's pick is a great test of my theory.
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.
I prop myself up on one elbow. There's enough light in the bedroom to see them. My little sister, Prim, curled up on her side, cocooned in my mother's body, their cheeks pressed together. In sleep, my mother looks younger, still worn but not so beaten-down. Prim's face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named. My mother was very beautiful once, too. Or so they tell me."
So, does it have POW? Heck. Yes. And I'll take it a step farther: this one has wow in the first paragraph. If you're a writer or a reader, you've probably heard about "voice." I think The Hunger Games is an excellent example of an undeniable character voice. We're automatically in Katniss's head, her world. She's real. We, as readers, can relate to her and want to know more about her and this ominous event referred to as "the reaping." Notice Collins doesn't give us any more details. It's enough to know that it's giving poor Prim nightmares. We're there with Katniss and can feel the affection she has for her sister, and in contrast, the distance she keeps from her mother.
It's straightforward. It's emotionally honest. It tells you without telling you that the MC is protective of her sister. The first page is Katniss, and that's why I love it so much.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!