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?