Saturday, November 23, 2013

Head Hopping

What is head hopping? Here is a great place that describes it very well. As you all know, I'm reading this four-book series, the first two books of which I have read before. Now, there are right ways to do head hopping, and the way it is done in this series is one of them, but I still have an issue with it.

If you've read any of my posts, you know that I can be rather OCD when it comes to consistency and logic. In this series, there are three main characters. Written in first person there is the main POV, the girl, and then there are her two guys. Lets call one, her 'Addiction', and one, her 'Perfect' match. If you've read these books, you probably know what books I'm talking about now, because this distinction is in the third book.

I've been in a trio like this exactly once and believe me, I have no desire to ever repeat it. For one evening I thought it would be nice if an ex-boyfriend/still friend returning from basic training in the Air Force could come along on an evening out with me and my current boyfriend. Boy was I mistaken. Current bo driving, me in the middle, ex-bo on my other side in a truck. I don't even remember what we did. There was so much tension in that vehicle, I could have cut it with a knife if I had one. To draw this torture out through all four books is insane, but I digress.

Back to head hopping.

All the way through the first three books, the story follows the girl as she struggles to maintain her relationship with both guys. From her point of view, they fill different places in her heart, but the two guys couldn't possibly be worse enemies. Their feelings for her are all that keeps them from killing each other. There is of course lots of outside drama going on in these books, but this triangle is the core of the entire series.

So, like I said, all the way through the first three books, the story is told from the girl's POV and in first person, then suddenly, in the very last chapter of the third book, we find ourselves in a different location talking to a different character, and saying things that just don't fit. Not that they are not possible, I was just left struggling as to how we got there and why we were talking to this other character, and why they were saying what they were saying. Turns out we were suddenly in the head of Perfect.

There is nothing wrong with the way this POV was changed, it's just ... why wait all the way until the very last chapter of the third book to do it? And why make me struggle for like two pages before telling me I'm now inside the head of Perfect? If you're going to go head hopping in your book, by all means do it right, but also be consistent, and please bring on the clues very early on. At this point, though Perfect's drama was very well written, and I did feel incredibly sorry for him, that feeling was nothing new. I already felt sorry for him, in my opinion, this chapter did not further the story. Nothing would have been lacking if that chapter were left out of the book.

Begin book four and we're back where we are used to being, at least for a little while. Now to a degree, I can understand the structure of book four, but there were opportunities throughout the series for other head hopping that would accentuate the agony of these two guys and give us a window into their thoughts and concerns rather than keeping us guessing like the girl has to. Why are we now sharing only with Perfect? There was a super opportunity to get inside the head of Addiction in book two, but no, we only find out what was happening with him after the girl gets involved with him again, and even then, it's only bits and pieces.

Now that I am this far along in these books, I look back and think that there surely should have been at least one chapter devoted to each guy in each book, course I would have preferred more. I mean, if you're going to do it at all, get into it. Either that or leave out the other POVs altogether. I'm sure us readers could have struggled along just fine, even into the fourth book, with only the one POV as she learns what happens around her like always.

Things like this make me wonder if the publisher was paying attention. Of course, big publishers can't pay intimate attention to any one book, but really, one series should at least have the same editor. I'm convinced this was not the case. A professional editor isn't likely to allow such a drastic change in story structure so late in the course of a series. Or would they? Hmmm Maybe her editor isn't as picky as I am.

What do you think?


William Kendall said...

Since the books are already out there, you can't go back and change things around.

I would personally find it a bit jarring, but that's just me.

Anna L. Walls said...

All the more reason not to let it happen either before the books are out or by maintaining the consistency throughout the publication of the series.