Friday, March 29, 2013

whose story is this, anyway?

In my long, unplanned hiatus from blogging, I started getting a ton of spam comments, so I've turned on comment moderation because this is out of control.

Anyway. I've begun editing one of my novels, the one told from two different first-person POVs, and this, along with reading the summary of Marie Lu's Prodigy, has me thinking about the nature of dual perspective novels. Specifically YA. Specifically the fact that many times books told from two different viewpoints are, really, just one character's story. Not that both characters don't have their own journeys, don't play different roles and offer different perspectives on events, but oftentimes after I've read the book and set it down, I feel like really it was Character A's story all along.

Across the Universe (series), by Beth Revis - Okay, this was obviously Amy's story all along. Maybe it's just because she's from earth so it's easier for the reader to identify with what she goes through, but as much as I liked Elder's chapters, his story and feelings were so completely wrapped around Amy and what she was going through that his story felt more like an extension of hers than something that belonged only to him. Whereas there were parts of Amy's story that had nothing to do with Elder.

Legend (series), by Marie Lu - Again, this is the girl's story, and I'm not quite sure why that is. Maybe it's because I naturally identify more with the girl in stories, so it seems like the story belongs to her instead of Day? Or maybe because June's worldview and scope is bigger than Day's in some ways -- she has more information about a lot of things, and it's her brother's death that is the catalyst for the series.

Love and Other Perishable Items, by Laura Buzo - This is Amelia's story. Partly because (if I remember correctly) her chapters are so much longer than Chris', and partly because it's her who sets up their relationship from the get-go: she's the relatable everygirl and he's the unattainable older guy (although of course both characters are much more complex than this, but in the beginning...)

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman - This is Connor's story and again, I think it comes down to the fact that while Risa and Lev are both a bit wild in their own ways and have very interesting backstories, Connor is the more relatable one. He's the one with the viewpoint and situation that it's easier (at least for me) to identify with.

I could go on.

But interestingly, there are a few books on my GR shelves that are truly split-POV, where the characters share the story equally. There are a few series (Peaches, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Luxe) of course, but there are also some great stand-alones where the two (or three, or four) characters share page time and story weight pretty equally.

Rival, by Sara Bennett Wealer - It's just about impossible to choose one character over another here, and part of the reason why is because Brooke and Kathryn's stories and backstories are so, so woven together. The story would fall apart if it was told solely from one perspective -- or at the very least it be a very different, much weaker tale.

Geek Charming, by Robin Palmer - This one I love because Dylan and Josh are such different characters. And I think that's part of what makes their dynamic and the book as a whole work so well. I was surprised when I started reading this, to discover it was told from both POVs, but it works really well. (And as an aside, the Disney Channel movie is so great, honestly. It's on Netflix, so you should give it a go.)

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, by Terra Elan McVoy - Another one where telling the story from just one perspective would change it dramatically. These three sisters, though their stories don't overlap too terribly much, work so great as split-POV narrators; it really gives a fuller scope of the story, the characters, and the setting.

How to Save A Life, by Sara Zarr - I hesitate to say that this is split-POV done perfectly, but it's pretty darn near close.

So what are your favorite split-POV books, and does the story belong to all characters equally or is it really just one character's story?

1 comment:

  1. I loved Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and I thought it was so sweet. To me, it seemed pretty equal because although Nick's storyline seemed more significant to the story, it worked as we had to depend on Norah to help us understand him. Does that make sense? I don't know - I'm so bad at explaining things. Anyway, good luck with your novel! I've always wanted to write a novel but I have so little determination and motivation. Maybe one day I'll get back into writing. :)