I love YA books.
There, I said it. I’m not a teen (or anywhere close to that age, ahem) but I love the genre and gorge on it regularly in all its forms (Mature YA, YA/NA). All books include an element of self-discovery and reflection, but it’s my opinion that these themes are especially poignant when centered around a protagonist living those years when you’re still unsure of who you are.
Something I’ve noticed about the YA/NA genre is it tends to be written in the first-person, present-tense point-of-view (POV). Seems logical since first-person POV can feel more intimate (the reader follows the protagonist’s direct voice) and present-tense lends a sense of immediacy–And young adults definitely (at least what I’ve witnessed from my teen nephews and cousins) live in the Right Now with some rough sketches of what the future might look like. It’s the charm and the madness that is them. And hey, those are tough years as they try to get a grasp on what the hell this life thing is about and how they should handle it…That’s what I remind myself of when one of them makes a creative move on the highway and narrowly avoids causing a massive collision that would’ve resulted in twisted metal, shattered glass, and calls to First Responders.
Currently I’m about halfway through a draft in the first book of a planned YA/NA Fantasy trilogy titled Sundered Kingdoms. Each book will be centered around one character’s perspective and thus I put things in the first-person, present-tense form. I’ve done first-person, past-tense before in my first novel and enjoyed the process. Switching into present-tense takes some attention but I do like the immediacy of it.
One of my (very) early betas came back saying that he found it difficult to engage with the first-person, present-tense format and felt it was throwing off the read for him. Granted, early drafts are ugly bastards by nature with rough sections of monologue-ing and info dumping which will be mopped up in subsequent drafts, but the commentary did give me pause. The plot is most definitely through the eyes of a single character and I want to keep it in her voice. I took that to mean it should be in first-person, but does it have to be?
There are a lot of opinions out there as far as when first person vs. third person POV is best. So, let me ask all you readers and writers out there:
If you are reading a story that is from a single character’s perspective, do you expect or prefer it to be in first-person? Or are you cool with a single third-person POV throughout a novel?