POV Review Third Person – Before The Fall

Before The Fall

by Noah Hawley

Grand Central Publishing


390 – pages

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

*No Acknowledgements

*Not sure what to make of no acknowledgements. On the one hand there is the chance that the author was on a very limited deadline and wasn’t able to get them in on time. But when I read a book without acknowledgements it kind of rubs a nerve. Did the author feel they did all the writing, editing, publishing, marketing, etc…, themself? Or is that they feel they’ve said “thanks” enough in their past work (but different book, different reason to say thank you, in my opinion).  So I don’t know. Would love to know what others think when they come across a book without acknowledgements.

POV – Unlimited Third Person (God-like) Narrator. This narrator is the kind that knows what everyone is doing and thinking at any given moment.

Tense – Present

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a character this all-knowing. It feels like the characters are all in a bubble and I’m watching them. But because they are so far from reach I don’t feel much for them.

A few examples of the narration:

Page 18 – In his mind there was no boat. There was no current. There were no sharks. 

What’s interesting about that passage is that it is from a real-life person, Jack LaLanne. So maybe Mr. LaLanne did an interview and said this, but the way it’s written, it’s the narrator knowing everything. I can suspend my belief when it comes to fictional characters, but this little hop into a real-life person without the added “I read in blah, blah, where he said….” It grated at me like the narrator was arrogant enough to believe he knew fictional and real life characters.

Page 194 – Gus sits at the conference table, looking at his reflection in the window. In his mind he is on a Coast Guard Cutter, scanning the waves.

The book follows many different characters, but they are all told from this one narrator’s point of view. 

I liked the story, the ending was different than what I think a lot of people want, but it worked for me. I’m going to give a spoiler so if you don’t want to know skip to the next paragraph now.   Basically, the story is set up that it feels like their was a conspiracy, but in the end it was something completely unrelated. Which, when you think of the lives of rich people with big names, everyone assumes it’s all about them. Fun little twist on this story. 

While it took some getting used to with the narrator, there was one thing that drove me batty. That was nearly every single character had the same trait of not finishing sentences. If you picked up the book and flipped around, you would never know which character is which unless you read their name. That was probably my biggest pet peeve. I’m going to give a few examples:

Pg. 20 – “What? No. That’s – I mean, just a guy.” (Scott’s Dad)

Pg. 43 – “Let’s – I’m gonna say four people max in this room….” (Gus)

Pg. 113 – “No,” she says.  “I don’t think – “ (Eleanor)

Same Pg.  – “And does that money go into the trust,” says Doug, “or -“ (Doug)

Pg. 121 “Can you – ” she says, ” – if its okay, what happened?” (Layla)

Nearly every character has this trait. Every major character and even minor characters. And what’s worse it that it’s not a rare thing, this happens throughout the whole book.

YouTube Video of Jack LaLanne -at the age of 70 – pulling 70 boats

Wiki Page on Jack LaLanne

POV Review – I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

This is the first book I’ve ever read where all POVs are used: First person, Second person, and Third Person (limited).

I Let You Go (Debut Novel – it always thrills me to read debuts)

by Clare Mackintosh

UK Publisher: Sphere ©2014

US Publisher: Berkley ©2016

Agent Sheila Crowley

Let’s jump right into this. Three POVs. I haven’t read a book that has done this before, I’m not saying it hasn’t been done, I’m just I haven’t read one like this before. A nice treat.

There are three narrators: Jenna who is in first person, present tense, Detective Ray who is in third person present tense, and I’m not naming the third narrator written in past tense and whose POV is, upon further inspection it’s first person with a twist of second person. I know, weird to explain, but interesting how it’s used.  So let’s get into the examples so you understand what I mean.

Example of Jenna, first person/ present tense, from page 124 –

         I sit at the kitchen table in front of my laptop, my knees drawn up underneath the big cable-knit sweater I used to wear in my studio in the winter months. I’m  right next to the range, but I’m shaking, and I pull the sleeves down over my hands. It’s not even lunchtime, but I have poured myself a large flass of red wine. I type into the search engine, then pause.

Honestly, not my favorite kind of first person “I sit…I pull…I type….” However, this paragraph is an anomaly. For the most part, with this character, it’s not that bad.  With this character I don’t get fully immersed in feeling for her, solely because of that arms-length style writing. Even though it’s a bit smoother in other parts, it still keeps me at a distance.

Example of Detective Ray Stevens, third person/ present tense, from page 7 –

          Ray stretched out a hand for the piece of paper and scanned it while Kate stood awkwardly in the doorway. 

The third person is limited only because we get Ray’s POV, not Kate’s, not anyone else’s.  I realize I forgot to get an example from the book so I’m making one up here. “Ray thought this workload was overwhelming.” Third person in Ray’s head, but limited because we aren’t getting “Kate, also, thought the work was overwhelming.” If we did have that POV, it would be unlimited third person.

Example of Unnamed Narrator – first person/second person twist, in past tense, from page 206.

          I had worried that giving you a key may have been a mistake…

Another example from the same page:

          I looked at the food laid out on the work surface…. You must have spent all afternoon getting it ready.

So we have two present tense POVs and one past tense POV. It definitely distinguishes who’s up at the narrator bat. Works. I think I only recall one snafu which happens at the end of one of the Unnamed narrator’s chapter and the beginning of the next chapter with the Jenna first person POV.  The next chapter begins vaguely and has a “you” so it takes a moment to process who is talking and where we are. But it’s brief.

All in all an interesting way to break up mulitple points of view.

And Clare has another book recently released on my “must read” list: I See You 

What do you think of different POVs in one story?

NEXT WEEK: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley