In my YA fantasy novel, Far-Knowing, I divide each chapter into 2-4 clearly marked sections which alternate between two characters' POVs (with a third making a few appearances). The two main POV characters are two young apprentice mages, both young women, but with different backgrounds, skills, aims, and opinions about the world. And they don't particularly like each other. I loved writing the story from both points of view because it showed how the world is more gray than black and white, and that two people can interpret the same event completely differently.
I've read quite a few books told from multiple points of view, including one of my favorite YA fantasy trilogies, Hilari Bell's Farsala, and a little one you may have heard of: Game of Thrones.
It's interesting to me, however, how divisive the style is. Look at a couple of reviews of Far-Knowing:
"I normally don’t like stories that switch a lot from one point of view to another, and back again. There have been rare cases where I did end up liking them, in spite of multiple POVs --- but this book is the first time I remember finishing a book and thinking that the multiple points-of-view not only failed to detract from the story, but also made the story better. From the perspective of someone like me who is biased against that practice, this is quite a testament to Melinda Brasher’s skill as a writer. It’s terrific."
-from a 5-star Amazon review
"But for me this book had a major problem, and this was the manner in which it jumped from one character's point of view to another character's point of view. Many times, just as I was getting into the story, the point of view changed, and I had to reestablish the context. Some readers don't mind this kind of style, so I think many readers will enjoy this book more than I did."
-from an otherwise positive 3-star Amazon review
"The characters were well developed and you really got to see into Kalli and Ista's minds. I do however think that the POV switches came too frequently. I would've preferred the format to be different, but it wasn't too distracting."
-from a 3.5-star review
"I absolutely loved the changing perspective of different points of view of individual characters. Things aren’t exactly as they seem to be. Very true."
-from a 5-star Amazon review
Out of curiosity, I just looked at reviews of Game of Thrones that mention point of view (8 POV characters, by the way), and most say that it adds so much depth, that we really get to know all the POV characters, that it brings the story to life, that it shows how even the bad guys can justify their actions and aren't all bad. Several mention that they thought it would be confusing or unnecessary with so many POVs, but that it worked. Several say it WAS confusing at bits but it was worth it. A few have warnings that the multiple POVs may put off readers looking for a simple tidy read.
So, what do you think? Have you ever written anything in this style? Do you have any examples of books you love (or don't love) told like this? When you read one, do you find yourself hurrying through one or more POVs to get to your favorite character? I'd love to hear in the comments.
And to see for yourself what you think of the POVs in Far-Knowing, Farsala (Fall of a Kingdom), or Game of Thrones, click the links below.
Far-Knowing, by Melinda Brasher
Fall of a Kingdom (Farsala #1) by Hilari Bell
Game of Thrones by Geroge R.R. Martin
Melinda Brasher loves casual hiking, taking photos of nature, playing in the shallow little river that runs through her Czech town, and hanging out at home writing. Her short fantasy story, "Chaos Rises" is now FREE on Amazon (and everywhere else). Her microfiction (38 words) recently won honorable mention in On the Premises' Mini Contest #25. Read "Dusk" for free here. Or visit her online at www.melindabrasher.com