Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks “Thursday Thoughts”, a weekly writing tradition of my blog filled with ramblings, opinions, and hopefully fun. 🙂
Something that I’ve been thinking about lately is the general idea of “I” books. Now, when I say “I” books, I’m talking about books told from the first person perspective, not some new Apple product designed for the sole purpose of wiping physical books of the face of the Earth.
I used to be pretty sure about where I stood when I came to whether or not I liked books that were written this way: No way. I don’t know why, but when I was younger I found it so difficult to read from the first person POV. I guess my mentality was so set on believing, “You’re not I, I’m I!”
(Good luck with that one, Microsoft Word autocorrect)
To this day I still have a friend who refuses to read “I” books (Although, this friend also hates the Lunar Chronicles. She’s probably crazy). While I’ll no longer refuse to read a book just because it’s written in a specific point of view, there are some cases for me when this particular writing style just won’t work for me.
1) When the author doesn’t give you a good look inside the narrator’s mind. That sounds really weird, I know, but think about it. If someone is telling a story using “I” but isn’t giving you any personal details or thoughts it almost starts to seem as if “I” is just the name of a character and the story is really third person. I encountered this issue while reading Scandal by Sarah Ockler.
2) When an entire long series is told in first person. With the exception of Percy Jackson (who, let’s be real, just completely wins at narrating) I honestly can’t even imagine trying to get through a lengthy series all told in first person. It’s not even that the narration would be boring or subpar, it’s just that you’d be missing out on so many details that could be given if it was told from a third person narrative. To put it in perspective: Can you imagine if the entire Harry Potter series was told from Harry’s point of view?
However, there are definitely some cases where the first person POV is used wonderfully. Here are my favorite two examples:
1) When first person POV’s change between characters. Jodi Picoult does an incredible job of doing this. When the character POV changes while staying in first person we can get a glimpse into multiple characters’ minds, and often times this can create some beautiful foreshadowing and interweaving plot lines where the reader can feel like they have some insight into what is going to happen next before all of the characters. I would highly recommend Jodi Picoult’s House Rules if you’re looking for a book like that.
2) When the narrator is witty and hilarious. As I mentioned before, Percy Jackson is the king of witty narration, and I would have to say that Lauren Holbrook from Miss Match is my nomination for the queen. When you’re inside a character’s head you can really get a sense for their personality and hear all their funny and sarcastic thoughts throughout the story. It’s really rare that you can achieve the same level of deeply personal and hilarious narration through a third person narration… to me any attempts at it usually have about the same affect on my reading experience as the announcers in the background of soccer games cracking jokes in their British accents.
So those are my thoughts on first person narration, or “I” books. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments or in a blog post of your own!
As always, thanks for reading! 🙂