Fiction books used to be pretty standard. Front matter, chapter contents, about the author (or acknowledgments). Most things were written in third person limited point of view although there was the occasional first person. Nowadays, just about anything goes. It’s exciting to seek out these newer “odd format” books but some are so far off the wall that they almost seem like a novelty or publishing gimmick. Some of the ones that stick out in my mind are:
Recently, I stumbled on a book with not one or two points of view but FIVE. There was so much going on in this book I never could tell who was doing what. It supposedly all blended together at the end of the novel but I never made it that far.
Lack of Punctuation
Many so-called “novels in verse” aren’t actually that…they are just novels with complete sentence structure that are formatted like a poem. It’s weird. I’m not the biggest fan of these novels to begin with but when you take a novel and slice it up to LOOK like a novel in verse then you are just being gimmicky and it’s unfair to the reader. Even weirder are the books that contain no quotation marks. I believe Child 44 was the first one I read with this structure and, although I adapted and got used to it, it was still so strange to me. I’ve read many novels since that try to pull it off but the dialogue just isn’t strong enough and it becomes hard for the reader to distinguish narrative versus dialogue.
Just damn annoying
So, really only one book falls here… This is All. Have you read this? It’s a giant, heavy, lengthy YA novel that many people avoid (or have never heard of!). It’s actually a fantastic novel and one of my all-time favorite YA titles. BUT (a huge BUT), it is in the weirdest format I’ve ever read. There are two points of view and they are told on opposing pages but they are not linear. So, to read the story you have to make a choice from the beginning on how to read this title (it really does need instructions!). You can read all the right hand pages cover to cover and get one story and then you can start again and read all the left hand pages cover to cover to get the other story. Or you can try and read them together. This is maddening, of course, because the story doesn’t break at the end of the page. Meaning, you’ll have to stop reading mid-sentence and then flip the page and you’ll find yourself reading a totally different character’s viewpoint also starting mid-sentence. Invariably, if you try this method, you’ll get sucked into the characters (because it is an awesome book) and just flip the page like it’s a normal book and find yourself lost and having to re-read. Sound confusing? I can’t even explain it very well so imagine just picking it up and trying to read it like a normal book! It could have easily been broken into Parts 1 & 2 but, nope, instead it has this super weird format. I’d hate to see what the ebook looks like O.o
Do you like odd formats? What’s the strangest one you’ve come across?
October 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm
I like some strange formats. I have a review upcoming on the newest Meg Cabot that tells the entire story through text messages, emails, chat, etc. It was good, but then she’s a skilled enough writer to pull it off. Not all writers can. Novices who go for weird structure just to do it to be different and not because it fits the novel, usually don’t succeed. Some multi povs don’t succeed. I think it depends on the story and the writer.
LikeLiked by 1 person
October 13, 2016 at 10:07 pm
Wasn’t there a book that was done completely through twitter messages? I seem to recall that a few years ago. I doubt it was done with the care Meg Cabot gives her books though 😛 She is very in tune with her audience and, I think, makes all of her writings quite relatable. That also reminds me of a YA novel I read back in the spring that was about a girl in a mental institution and it was told through news articles and her medical records. I can’t remember the title but I enjoyed it. The YA group at our library hated it though so I guess it’s all very dependent on tastes 😛
October 13, 2016 at 10:14 pm
There have been 4 books in Meg Cabot’s series. The other 3 were similar with emails, etc., but I don’t think all twitter messages. I am impressed though. She nuanced each one so it sounded appropriate to the character. Yeah, I love to read different styles. Not everyone does. But then some could say I’m a stickler (uptight, anal, who knows) about expecting romance titles to have a story attached. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
October 15, 2016 at 6:07 pm
Strange formats drive me crazy! I like books the old-fashioned way most of the time, but every now and there is a modern twist that’s pulled off well.
LikeLiked by 1 person