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Booking Through Thursday: Pointed

btt buttonWhich is better (or preferred) … stories with multiple character points of view? Or stories that stick to just one or two at most? And, why?

For me, it really depends on the story itself, and a lotta context. I think especially of “team books” in comics–X-Men or the Justice League or Teen Titans–and with those, I would want numerous characters’ points of view…it’s how we’d really get to “know” the characters.

At the same time, if a character has a “solo book,” I’m more inclined to want things from that character’s point of view (the the occasional one-off issue switching things up isn’t bad, though).

As I type this, I realize it also depends on the point of view of the narration…a comic “checking in on” numerous characters (X-Men, Justice League, etc) giving us “omniscient” views of characters all over the place is a much different thing than getting an entire story from the limited point of view of only one character, who can’t tell us exactly what another character is thinking or remembering or whatever.

I’ve begun reading Allegiant, the latest book in the Divergent series, and I’m not liking the chapter by chapter changeup between two characters’ point of view. Just as I’m getting the “feel” for the progression of story from one character, it changes and the “I _____” or “my ______” references are totally changed, and it’s taking me out of the story.

I like the Song of Ice and Fire books (Game of Thrones and later books), and those do a chapter-by-chapter changeup as well, but it’s not as rough to transition as it’s not the characters talking to me as a reader.

I’ve read other books where you might get half the book from one character’s perspective and the other half from another. One of Brad Meltzer’s books threw me for a total swerve a number years back: a few chapters and the character whose perspective we had was killed, and then the bulk of the book was from another character’s perspective. Instead of just “oh, the character’s friend died,” it was “holy crap!” and actually feeling for the “true” main character, having had more insight into the deceased character.

And as a kid, I’d read series where a single book was from one perspective, but the books would change things up: unless my memory’s particularly failing me, the Hardy Boys Casefiles series was like this. One book might be from Frank’s perspective, another from Joe’s, and so on (I think one was even from the father’s perspective). I liked these, and it worked well because of being an entire book in one perspective, but changing whose perspective each book gave a much richer overall view in the larger continuity.

But on the whole, I think given a hard ‘n fast choice of one or the other and no grey areas, I’d come down on the side of preferring a single point of view over multiple.

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