The First Verse Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The First Verse

The First Verse is the story of a young boy whose breakdown while starting university forces him to turn to a secret society for comfort. Niall Lenihan is a shy, intelligent student who struggles to confront his homosexuality. He has a prestigious scholarship to study literature at Trinity College Dublin.
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When Niall begins university he ticks all the normal boxes - he moves away from home, makes friends, attends classes and explores his new surroundings. However, it is not long before all this begins to fall apart. What quickly became his routine to stumble in and out of gay clubs posed a threat one night as he faced a gay-bashing from a drunken man. An anonymous hero saved him and then quickly fled the scene. At a friend's house party, Niall catches his first glimpse into this literary cult that later proves to be quite dangerous. Part of this cult was his hero, John, and Sarah, another girl he was familiar with from the arts block at university.

The basis of this surreal group was the way in which they determined their every step in life from a randomly chosen passage in a book. As Niall slowly works his way into this group, he develops feelings for John, who not only has an ambiguous relationship with Sarah but also a girlfriend. Dissatisfied, Niall continues his escapades at night in the gay clubs of Dublin and meets a friendly Northerner called Chris. He develops feelings for Chris but as he gets deeper into the literary cult of Sarah and John, he begins to cut ties with Chris.

Meanwhile, Sarah, John and Niall become more involved in their seances whereby they each repeat a particular excerpt from a book over and over until they collapse. While doing so, they conjure up images of another world, an alternate reality that looks a lot like a 19th Century Paris.

Niall begins to retreat from university, his family and all his various relationships, as he becomes obsessed with demanding answers from book excerpts. Nial, Sarah and John delve deeper into their surreal world as everything else falls apart.

Best part of story, including ending: The plot was riveting and there was never a dull moment. McCrea brings the readers through a series of emotions and sentiments and he provides an excellent portrayal of university life in Dublin.

Best scene in story: The first book seance was my favourite scene as it was described as an other-worldly experience. I felt as though this scene was the ultimate nod to the literary world and how it can captivate one.

Opinion about the main character: The main character is at times a bit helpless and does not necessarily do what is best for him.

The review of this Book prepared by Simone O'Donovan a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The First Verse

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Love problems?    -   gay guy urges

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Irish


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Ireland City?    -   Yes City:    -   Paris

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   two guys doing it Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Barry McCrea Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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