Until I joined the bookish community, I had no idea that there were people out there who didn’t like multiple POVs. I suppose it wasn’t something I really thought about because when I pick up a book, I just sort of… accept it the way it is? I can see both sides of the coin, but personally? I like multiple POVs.
As a reader, I like them because they change up the storytelling and amp up the pacing, particularly in epic fantasy. For example, George R.R. Martin tells A Song of Fire and Ice in multiple POVs. There’s some pluses and minuses to this. A Game of Thrones is very slow paced. Martin does a lot of world building in his books and he wants the reader to see every aspect of the incoming war. Without counting, I would say there’s at least 10 different POVs in each book.
This can help storytelling because it gives a wider view of the world, allowing the reader to see a more locations and events than may be available with a single POV. But on the other hand, it can be confusing. There are a lot of characters to keep up with in some multiple POV books, and it can be especially difficult if the chapters don’t indicate the speaker.
On top of that, I remember one particular moment in A Song of Ice and Fire (I think it may have been A Feast for Crows) where a character was introduced and I waited and waited for the character to be pertinent, for that story line to go somewhere… and it didn’t. In true George R. R. Martin fashion, that character was dead before the end of the book.
So I can see both the pluses and minuses to having multiple POVs – from better expansion and improved pacing to confusion and wasted space, there are a lot of different things a book with multiple POVs can do. As a reader and as I writer, I still prefer them. If nothing else, I know that a voice I enjoy will come up eventually, and that helps me get through the parts that bore me. In that way, I’ve been saved from wanting to DNF many books.
How many POVs do you like? Do you prefer a story told in just one voice, or multiple? And if you write, which way do you prefer to write? Let me know in the comments!