[Discussion] Part One: Multiple POV’s

Discussion

Multiple Points of Views

*Disclaimer: By ‘Multiple points of views’ I am only referring to multiple characters points of views in books.

Last week I admitted that I used to hate reading books that were written in multiple point of views. I thought it ruined the story and made the stories a lot less exciting than what they could have been. But only because I found I was picking up books that revealed something through the eyes of a second character, something I felt like I wanted to learn over the whole book not in the second chapter at the mind of the second POV.

This week I wanted to discuss the different points of views and how I see them. I’m not really going to touch base with first/third narrative or past/present tense, just the amount of characters we get to see the story through and how I thought it worked or perhaps doesn’t work.
And of course this is all my personal opinion and what I’ve really liked reading.

Two Characters

I think this is my favourite style when it comes to multiple points of views. Two characters are simple and we get to see the story from two different angles, we get to fall in love with the two main characters, and get to know the secondary character more intimately than we could through the eyes of our main character.

A lot of my favourite series’ are written in this style.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - Miss Book Reviews

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
I love the way Aria and Perry’s POV’s really let us explore this world and this story. Veronica Rossi does this incredibly well, we get to learn about Aria and Perry through their own eyes and personally I think that’s what makes this series so exciting. This series could never be told from only one point of view, how then would we learn of the rich world it inhabits?

The way this story is written is beautiful, Aria and Perry’s POV’s are beautifully interwoven with the right timing. Each chapter ending with the suspense of making you want to find out what happens next, but as the next chapter is the next characters POV we don’t get to see what happens next right away. But as the current characters POV was just as breathtakingly exciting the chapter before, you’re plunged into a never ending cycle of suspense and adventure.

I loved this style and Rossi pulled this off perfectly.

Across the Universe by Beth RevisAcross the Universe by Beth Revis - Miss Book Reviews
This series is written the same way. Each chapter alternates telling the story in Amy and Elder’s POV’s, both characters are also from different worlds. At least they’re from a different time and grew up in a different world from each other meaning: they have different ways of thinking, they’re different enough to tell apart and have different thoughts, opinions, understandings and feelings.

I felt like I highly enjoyed this style of multiple POV because Elder and Amy were so different that I was always wanting to know where they factored in with each other, where they were in the story and why. We read the story as one but read them as two different pairs of eyes telling the same story in a different way. It worked and I loved it.

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer - Miss Book ReviewsStorm by Brigid Kemmerer
Storm is also told from two POV’s yet this style isn’t quite the same. The characters change POV’s sporadically. The POV’s change during chapters or there may be a whole chapter where we only read from one character’s POV. The POV’s are two POV’s in the same world experiencing the same main events yet the characters are living their own lives which just so happen to involve or cross one another every so often. If this makes sense.

I was quite surprised to find that this style really worked with the story, I was kept interested the whole way through the book and the suspense and excitement carried right on through the story and the POV’s. The way the POV’s intertwined kept me intrigued, each POV change never left me feeling like I was pulled out of one story and put into the next but rather that I was done with seeing one POV and was now ready to see what the other POV was up to and how they factored in to the main over all story.

This story worked incredibly well with this style of writing and style of multiple points of views.

Three or more characters

Personally I usually find three characters the limit for multiple points of view. Any more and I get incredibly lost. Unless, of course, the story is written very well and the characters are so different in very obvious aspects that I don’t get confused. I also feel like that any more  than possibly four, maybe five POV’s always make me wonder if all of these characters are needed; I mean do we really need to see everyone’s point of view of the events? Do we really need to know everyone’s thoughts and opinions? Do we need to see all of these characters stories in this book? Often I usually wish the story had a lot less characters.

I like more point of views when it is written well. When it works. When the writer knows exactly what they’re doing, exactly why each character is needed, and exactly why they help the story to progress.

For example I know there are quite a few fantasy books written in multiple points of views; it works. And it works well. But then there are also books I’ve come across that have so many points of view and fail to come across as intended. I have read books that have made me feel like it was too jarring to keep up.

So there are books that don’t work with a ton of characters POV’s as well as many that pull it off  wonderfully.

How many POV’s can you handle when reading a book? Do you stay clear of books with more than a certain number?

What are your favourite books written in multiple character POV’s? What style of multiple POV’s do you enjoy most?

——–

Since I have so much to say on this subject I decided to split this post up into three parts.

Part Two: Next I express my personal opinions on the different styles of multiple points of views.
Part Three: I explain what things I have come across and realised I don’t like when it comes to multiple POV’s.

Miss J
x

Check out the Let’s Discuss meme host by Oh, Chrys! and The Fiction Conniption!

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10 thoughts on “[Discussion] Part One: Multiple POV’s

  1. I agree, I think three is the max for multiple POVs and even that can be a stretch for me. Two POVs is perfect. Allows me to see the story from more than one view point and yet still not get completely lost or distracted.

    Right now I’m reading Days of Blood and Starlight (yeah I know, you weren’t a fan of the first book :P) and it’s got three main POVs that it has focused on so far in the book: Karou, Akiva, and Zuzanah. Because I’m already connected to each character from the first, I don’t have a problem with this at all, especially since they’re separated and it allows me to find out what’s going on with each character when they’re not together.

    I look forward to your next POV post :D

    • I love two POV’s the most as well.

      Haha yeahh, I think I’ve said that once or twice lol. I love it when the author is able to have multiple characters POV’s and is still are able to connect the reader to each character like it sounds in Days of Blood and Starlight.

      The second book in the Ashes trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick; Shadows, tries to do that. In Shadows I lost count of how many POV’s we read, but I lost count not because there were so many characters (There were quite a few but not a ton) but simply because I could not connect with any other character. I could not remember who was who, I did not care to read their stories, all I wanted to read was Alex’s POV because she was familiar from book one and because I was already connected to her through the first book.

      But then at the moment I’m reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Scarlet is a completely new character yet I’ve already started to really like her. We then switch POV’s to Cinder, the emperor and then another completely new character. I find I’m fine with this because the story sticks mostly with Scarlet but we get to see what the other characters from book one are up to without being pulled out of the story. I’ve begun to understand who is who and how they factor in to the story. So even though there is more the three POV’s, only two characters are completely new so it still works and I am able to connect to each character.

      I love it when that is achieved!

  2. Interesting post! I never used to like books with multiple POVs either, but going into the book blogging world and being exposed to more books changed my mindset. I think two POVs in a book are just right for multiple ones, too. Not to much and not too little – plus, it’s easier for me to understand and connect with the characters. Under the Never Sky was definitely one of the better multiple-POV books I’ve read so far! Some books are good with it, others aren’t. In the end, though, it all comes down to making the characters as relatable and believable and realistic as possible. Then, no matter how many POVs you have, it’ll never be too many.

    • I definitely think since I started book blogging I was able to find more well written books. I definitely think the reason I used to hate multiple POV’s so much was because the books I was picking up weren’t written too well.

      I definitely agree, if the characters are relate-able and believable its easier to connect with them. And if we can connect with them then we shouldn’t get lost or confused. That and it will help if the other POV’s don’t spoil any of the story for us.

  3. I agree, when it comes to multiple POV books the ones with two POVs work the best, usually. One huge exception is the Gone series by Michael Grant. That series has a huge amount of characters/POVs, but it’s done perfectly. I absolutely love reading each and every POV.
    As for style, if the book has (only) two POVs, I think I prefer the POV changes to happen during chapters over where POVs alternate between chapters. If it’s more than two that would be too confusing though.

    • Ohh I haven’t heard of the Gone series, I will have to check it out. I always respect writers that pull off having multiple characters POV’s well, especially if it’s a lot of them.

      I find I’m always open to different styles that writers use multiple POV’s, if it works.

  4. I think I can only handle two points of view in one book. Otherwise I start mixing up the characters. And I especially hate it when a villain has chapters with his point of view – it basically kills the entire story, because most of the time we just learn about his/her plan and I’m not interested anymore. And I agree about Veronica Rossi making Aria and Perry’s point of view work fabulously! I pretty much inhale her books because of her writing and her characters.

    I have read a couple of books with more than one point of view and I’m never really impressed or excited, except for Marissa Meyer’s books. The way she made it work in Scarlet? L-o-v-e i-t. Otherwise, books with too many points of view I can remember are Cassandra Clare’s books. I guess I’m 60/40 positive with her books, but sometimes I get too confused (my brain is too sleepy to focus so much).

    • Ohh yes, I also hate it when the villain has POV’s in a book! It ruins the suspense! When it comes to villains, mystery is what keeps me interested too. I don’t want to know what their plan is for the protagonist while the protagonist prances around completely unaware.

      Yes! I love, love, love that series because of her writing.

      Ohh I just finished Scarlet and I too loved it. I loved that we stuck with one main character but also got bits and pieces from other characters to see what the rest of the world was up to.

      Interesting, I’ve only read COB but I don’t remember it being in multiple POV. But I did read it a while ago, wasn’t a huge fan of it, and it didn’t really leave a lasting impression…

  5. I’m not big on 3+ POVs either. Some of Ellen Hopkins’ books use several POVs, but change between them so fast that I have a hard time keeping it all straight in my mind.

    For my own novel I used dual narrators, and spaced out a few “guest” narrator chapters when the two main characters were incapacitated or thwarted. The extra narrators helped create a bit of distance, because a story can get claustrophobic if it’s only in the minds/hearts of two people falling in love. That’s what I think, anyway.

    • Since I’ve read Scarlet which has a few ‘guest POV’s’ I’m warming up to that idea. I agree that creates a bit of distance and can usually add some suspense.

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