Sunday, June 22, 2014

3 Books That Do Alternating Point of Views Right

Alternating POVs can either help or hurt a story. If done right, they can enhance the message, characters and/or plot of the novel. If done wrong, they can leave the reader confused or unfulfilled. It’s important that all of the characters are vital to the story, and that each of them produce a strong voice, which distinguishes them from the others.
Here are three examples of novels that I think do alternating POVs right:

1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami-
    In 1Q84, the long chapters are split between two main characters, Tengo and Aomame, a man and woman who haven’t seen each other since they were in grade school, but have held onto their feelings for each other. Despite how it sounds, the story is so complex, and indescribable really. Between the alternating POVs, the characters experience strange but important things, which have a great impact on the story. The two characters are very strongly shown, and I found both of them to be likable. Towards the end of the story, it breaks off into a third, unlikely POV, a character introduced earlier in the story. Although the story is rich and complex, the three POVs fit together like links, creating a strong plot and amazing character development.

2. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi-
    Although other aspects of this book bothered me, the various POVs proved to be very impressive in this sci-fi read. Expressing characters from all different backgrounds, the alternating POVs in this book wove together a beautiful setting. The Windup Girl holds a heavy, rich culture, the most important thing to the story, which made up for some of the things I didn’t like about it.

 3. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin-
    Lastly, we have the best example of alternating POVs that I have read so far, A Game of Thrones (and the rest of the series). There are a lot of characters in this book, and a total of 8 different POVs. Regardless of the number, it does not make the story confusing. Each of the characters adds something important to the story, and each of them have strong, distinguishable personalities. Though you can easily pick favorites, none of them were unenjoyable to read about. It is refreshing to read the heavy topics of death and war through so many different eyes, varying from lords to children. Overall, the usage of multiple POVs made this book exciting and interesting.

So those are the three adult books that I think do alternating POVs well. I may follow this post up with one of 3 YA books that do it well also (once I start reading more YA books with alt. POVs.)

Let me know what you think of my recommendations. I tried to give a good variety of genres- contemporary (with magical realism??),  sci-fi, and fantasy. I quite enjoy reading books with alternating POVs, so let me know if you've read any good ones recently.

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