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.
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
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 Revis
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
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.