Throwdown Thursday: First Person POV vs Third Person POV

Since the beginning of time, similar things have always been compared to each other: Pepsi or Coke? Lemon or Lime? Boxers or Briefs? And books are no exception!

In January, I announced that I was taking Throwdown Thursdays–an original feature on my blog–to the meme-leagues by making it a monthly meme others could join in on.  The idea is I select two combatants and the blogger is the one who decides who wins. This can be done through a series of three rounds or my listing the pros/cons or however they see fit. Then, we all publish our posts on the last Thursday of the month and see what everyone else selected as the winner.

If you participated, please add your link to the linky below!

First Person POV vs Third Person POV

I have friends who will only read books that use the “I” narrative while others are equal opportunists. What do I prefer? Time to find out!

Round 1: Reading Flow

One Person’s Thoughts at a Time vs Observer Narration

Which is easier to follow as a reader?

I could write a long, rambling post but I’m going to keep it simple: First Person POVs are way easier for me to follow. When a person is narrating their own actions, it is so much easier to figure who is who and get the scene created in your mind. Rarely are you left trying to figure out who the “he” or “she” is in the description.

Third Person POVs often leave me a little confused. You get too many pronouns out there and it just becomes a mess.

Winner: First Person. Keep it simple is what I say.

First Person POV: 1 | Third Person POV: 0

Round 2: Mystery

Inside Their Mind vs Outsider Looking In

Some stories are told better than others.

I’m going to use two examples to help explain my point that sometimes, a little mystery is a good thing.

In Black Iris, (first person POV), having the narrator leave out certain bits and pieces made it hard to follow what was happening at times. I felt like she was being purposely deceptive because we were in her “mind”–so to speak–but she didn’t want to reveal the big “twist”. Which is totally fair, I just found it hard to be essentially “lied” to for most of the book–but c’est la vie with unreliable narrators.

Whereas in the Rook (third person POV), the external narrator kept the mystery alive. Because you aren’t seeing directly into the thoughts of the character as they tell their story, you don’t get the full details. Ignorance is bliss in this case and for some stories it is a great asset.

Winner: Third Person POV. There is a difference between purposely leaving information out and not having it available which is why I prefer the third person POV when it comes to mystery.

First Person POV: 1 | Third Person POV: 1

Round 3: Connection to the Characters

 Seeing it Through Their Eyes vs Watching From Afar

Do you feel closer or further away from the characters?

In the same breath, the mystery the Third Person POV provides can be detrimental when it comes to connecting with the characters. The only way I can think to describe it is that it is like watching a movie. You see the characters go through the motions instead of “experiencing” it and all the emotions that come with it for yourself.

That isn’t to say you can’t connect with the characters (the movie Inside Out is basically my life story so I easily connect with it) but I think it is easier to connect with characters when their every thought or feeling is conveyed to your through their own personal narration as you read.

Winner: First Person POV. When I read the “I” narration, I can easily put myself in their shoes than when I read a third person narration.

First Person POV: 2 | Third Person POV: 1

Ultimate Winner: First Person

Final Comments: As a whole, I feel a lot more comfortable with First Person narrations than I do third person. I suppose it is just a result of the genres I mostly read (NA contemporary and YA) and their preferred method. I’m definitely not opposed to Third Person POV but they seem like such an oddity in my everyday reads.

I know that it is a big deal for lots of readers which is why I list the narration style in all my reviews and tag my posts accordingly.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment below!

Next Time: Young Adult Genre vs New Adult Genre

Comments 2

  • What was I saying? — Ah yes, I truly don’t mind if it’s in 1st or 3rd person POV, but I find that sometimes there is ONE that suits the story better, as with mysteries. According to my Goodreads shelves, I have read three times more books with 1st person POV than with 3rd person POV. Except, I’m not selective about it; there are just more books being published with in 1st person POV. 😛

    • I agree–I’m not one to actively search for a book based on its POV. It doesn’t stop me from reading a book but I think it alters my experience if I find it hard to connect with the characters or the plot.

      (thanks for reposting your comment 😉 )

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