Thursday, May 24, 2007

Getting over a bias

As I mentioned in the last review, the book in question was written in the first person. Not so long ago, if I had noticed a book written in the first person, I wouldn’t even consider reading it. When browsing bookshelves that was one of the deal breakers on buying a book or not. I can’t put my finer on precise reasons why they were such a no-no for me. One of the reasons is I like getting into the hero’s head and that doesn’t happen with first person books. We just get to see things from the heroine’s POV. We don’t get a chance to see any of the ways he loves her from what he’s thinking.

But the dam began to leak when I started reading the Stephanie Plum books. I was delighted at how well these worked for me. Written in the first person, I still enjoyed them as much as the traditional third person book.

I hit a bit of a rough patch when I tried a first-person book that was written as if the events were actually happening – real-time I guess you would call it. I couldn’t get past chapter one of that book, so my first person bias came back with a vengeance – SP excluded.

So I was pretty upset a couple of years ago when I heard in advance that Linda Howard’s To Die For was going to be in first person. In fact I hadn’t really planned on reading it, but since I love 90% of what she writes I gave and in and decided to give it a try. Well – of course I’ve blogged a number of times about how much I adored it and the sequel.

So – funny books were OK in first person.

When I heard that Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas was going to be first person my reaction was far different. I only had a momentary qualm before deciding I would read it. I haven’t yet, but only because I haven’t gotten to it yet. My reading has slowed down considerably – a subject for another blog.

Then I read Gabriel’s Ghost and loved it. So now my bias against first person stories has pretty much bit the dust.

I think it’s interesting that in the comments Jennie said she hadn’t even realized it was first person. To me that is a real testament to how good the book is that one can read it without clueing into that.

So – now that I’m pretty much over my prejudices, are there any advantages?

I’m coming to realize that there are. With a book written in the first person, it seems as if you are more inside the story if written well. Instead of being an observer of the action, it seems as if you are standing right there next to the person and knowing them much better. I think this might be why there are such varied opinions on Howard’s TDF. Because we get to know Blair so well – for those who find her annoying – she can be REALY annoying.

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t get into the hero’s head, but if the book is done well, I have joyfully discovered if well-written, it doesn’t matter that much. I think we got to Wyatt pretty well and I loved Sully from Gabriel’s Ghost. And look at the never ending debate between Team Joe and Team Ranger. (Go Joe Go!).

So – now I’m ready to take on the first person world (almost) It’s nice that my reading world has expanded a bit!!

And in other news, I’m not sure how much I’ll be around for the next week or so. Baby Sis (Nance) is coming for a week long visit and I’m taking a week’s holidays. We have stuff jam-packed in there including a girls weekend with the people I used to work with and Lisa still does.

I also have a few ‘romance’ type movies to watch. I’m going to enjoy taping Lisa’s eye’s open and tying her down and forcing her to watch them. We’re also planning on catching Shrek 3 and Pirates III during the week.

Since I’m heavy duty addicted to blogging, I don’t think I’ll be away entirely – just a bit scarcer than normal.

‘til later


CindyS said...

First - super woohoo for you taking a week of and doing fun sister things! It's the perfect time of year to be outdoors and strolling around.

As to first person I still have a prejudice about them. Evanovich is humour/mystery so I am okay with it. Anita Blake was horror and I liked how kickass AB was in the earlier books - no really you should read the first 6 books, you haven't read anything like it!

If a book is in first person I automatically demote it from romance. That's weird I know but I need both people in the story to have a voice and I need to be in each person's head. Funny thing is even then, there are romances that don't convince me that either person is sane ;)

So I haven't gotten over that hurdle yet when it comes to straight romance. Romances used to be one sided (early Harlequin) and I always found it frustrating and then surprising when the guy turned out to be a saint and madly in love with the heroine.

I think it is interesting that Jennie didn't realize the book was in first person but I think my brain automatically would switch gears and it would think 'sci-fi' and if I was lucky there might be a love story in there somewhere ;)

CindyS (still all messed up from the LOST finale!!)

Kristie (J) said...

Cindy: I used to be just like you - LOL. But with such good books as the Howards, the Plums and GG - I'm willing to give them a chance now. And I didn't think the hero could be written well in a first person - but he can, oh my he can!

Rowena said...

Yeah I wasn't a fan of first person before, but now, you would think I've ALWAYS been a fan of first person...I don't hate on first person anymore, I embrace it!! =)

And I really enjoyed Sugar Daddy!

Kristie (J) said...

Rowena: I used to read a lot of first person books - but they weren't romance. Then when I started reading romance they just seemed to have to be third person. But now I've realized that a good romance can be in the first person too!!!

ReneeW said...

Funny, but I've never been biased against first person POV. But I think that's because I cut my eye teeth on FP when I was a teenager and had discover Mary Stewart gothics. They were the closest thing I could find to romance in those days (loved Moonspinners). I have read a couple FP since then that were really frustrating because I wanted insider the hero's head so I understand why you didn't like them. But if an author is really talented they can make is work so well as you describe... you feel like you are right there.

BTW, just finished Sugar Daddy... it was wonderful!

nath said...

I think that first-person point of view books really depend on the talent of the authors. I don't like it much, but it's present more and more... and so, some bothers me more, others less.

and have fun with your sister :D

Alyssa said...

I typically prefer third person stories, too, because I love getting the hero's perspective as well. I'm not sure if it was a bias or a general preference. Some writers do first person really well--Kelley Armstrong, for instance.

From a writerly perspective, my latest novella is first person. I kept trying to rewrite it from third, and it just wasn't working. The hero needed to remain a little mysterious. Generally, though, third person is what I write, too.