The January topic for the Monthly Recommendations Goodreads group is best first books in a series, and wow, did I struggle with this one! I mean, obviously the first book has to be good enough to get me hooked, but in a lot of my favorite series, the first book isn’t necessarily my favorite.
I also realized that in a lot of series, I like the different installments equally but for different reasons, while others I actually don’t remember the individual books well enough to distinguish them individually and say which I think is best. So apologies for having a rather short list this month!
I’m also just going to give you a heads up: a lot of the books I picked for this list just barely count as my favorites, so sorry if you see me say that a lot!
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Even though I haven’t reread these books as an adult (yet), they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I enjoy the series as a whole and appreciate how the different installments expand the world, but there’s just nothing like visiting Narnia for the very first time in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
And yes, that is the first book. I don’t care if The Magician’s Nephew takes place first chronologically in the world of Narnia and if American publishers label The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as the second book in the series. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is definitely the book to start with when reading The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Ok, so I was obsessed with this entire trilogy in high school and college and they’re still very near and dear to my heart, but the first one has always been my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love how Catching Fire and Mockingjay expand the world and introduce more characters and generally escalate everything, but The Hunger Games was just so unique when it was introduced and it was a very focused story that was well contained within a single book. Plus, when the whole world revolves around the Hunger Games, how can the first book that introduces them and sets the groundwork for Katniss’ experiences not be your favorite?
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
I’m so torn about including To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on this list because I really liked Always and Forever, Lara Jean, which was the concluding book in this trilogy. But it’s the first one that made me fall in love with Lara Jean and her family, and the premise of Lara Jean being forced to deal with her former crushes receiving old love letters is still just so funny and cute. I love this entire trilogy and highly recommend all of them, but I think the first one is my favorite by just a tiny little bit.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ok, so Six of Crows is making this list by only a smidge because I also loved Crooked Kingdom and thought it was an excellent conclusion to this duology, but there’s just something about Six of Crows that I like a bit more! I think a lot of it is because you’re just being introduced to all of the characters and it’s very focused around that one heist and watching this group of misfits become a team. But then in Crooked Kingdom you get Wylan’s perspective! But Six of Crows doesn’t have such a heartbreaking ending. But there is a brutal cliffhanger! Ugh, idk. I just slightly, slightly prefer Six of Crows, but I highly recommend both books in this duology (which is why they’re both on my Favorite Books of 2017 list!).
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I really love all of the books set in the Graceling realm and, while at first I was disappointed the later ones didn’t directly follow Katsa and Po, I later came to appreciate how cool it was that they follow different characters in the same world. But as much as I enjoy the later books, I think Graceling is still my favorite. I just loved Katsa and Po so much and you don’t get a relationship like theirs in the later books! And I love the concept of the Graces and just really enjoyed their introduction in this first book. I love all three of the books in their own way, but Graceling is the book that first introduced me to this world, and I think it’ll always be my favorite.
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
I really enjoyed this entire trilogy and highly recommend it if you love fantasy and romance, but the first one will probably always be my favorite of the three books. I just really loved watching Cat and Griffon fall in love and become a team, plus I always appreciate the first book in a series for introducing me to a world and making me love it, and A Promise of Fire is no exception. The second and third books are good and I think they do a good job continuing the fantasy aspect of the story, but they just can’t compete with the first book in terms of setting up Cat and Griffon as a couple, which is why this one is my favorite in the trilogy.
Ok, I think those are the only first books in a series that I can say I think are my favorites. Do you have any books that spring to mind as the best first book in a series? Let me know in the comments!
And if you’d like to see more of my monthly recommendations posts, check them all out here.