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POV FREE FOR ALL

September 12, 2012

            I just finished another adventure/thriller from an author I used to like. I say, used to like, because though he may have done some head-hopping in his past books, in this one, he throws away any pretense of structure and went for total chaos.

            Though there’s supposed to be a main hero in the story, it’s told through the eyes of whoever happens to be performing any action. That means as things progress from paragraph to paragraph, regardless of scenes, chapters or sometimes within a paragraph, the POV shifts to the inner thoughts of the character performing the action. That would include even minor characters including, as the author likes to call them, the “Goons,” nameless bad guys. What???

            This seems to be a growing trend, even from my very myopic view of reading material. I read horror, adventure/thrillers and mysteries for the most part, and never first person, so my choices are limited.

            Head-hopping would not be a problem in first person, of course. Yet in third person it can be a huge problem. I have no idea how bad it could be in other genres. To the non-writer/editor/knowledgeable person, they may never notice the difference. What they may figure out is that they can make no emotional connection or investment with any one character. The story is a jumble of characters doing something. That’s exactly the feeling I got from this story.

            The main character and his buddy were merely the glue holding the rest of the story together. As soon as the main characters ran into someone else, the author jumped right out of their heads and left them in the dust until they did something else which might not have been for several pages or even a chapter.

            Am I looking too deep into this? Am I too hung up on rules to truly enjoy a book that doesn’t follow them?

            I think back on the books where I liked the stories but there was just something about the writing that bugged me. I mentioned this before in the past few articles on POV. These rules came about for a purpose. To make for better reading. When there’s no character to concentrate on, who do you root for? When there are several good guys, even though you may know the number one good guy, why should you care so much about him when there are plenty of other good guys with their own stories to care for? Good guy #1 may be driving things, sort of, but when the author keeps leaving him in the dust to dive into the heads of good guy #2, #3 and #4 all the time, why should you care about #1?

            The same could be said for the bad guys in this story. Bad guy #1 didn’t even know what was going on until the last quarter of the book. His henchmen came along by accident, were dispatched by the heroes before it even came to bad guy #1’s attention. He never even met or confronted any of the good guys face-to-face at the end. Huh?

            Despite all, I enjoyed the story, just wasn’t thrilled with it. Will I buy the next one? I don’t know. Does this book sound like something you’d want to read? I’ve come across two adventure thrillers now with this head-hopping style. I hope it isn’t the trend of the future. If these guys think they have to know the rules before they can break them, they certainly didn’t do their homework.

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