POV Wars: First Person Present in the YA Novel

Earlier today, I was googling 3rd person POV again and I saw my blog post about it in the search results! So, despite being super busy and maybe a little sick, I’m going to do the topic I actually have scheduled for today:

First person present tense POV in the young adult novel.

I mean, what is up with that? When did this become so popular? And why?

First person present POV itself has seen a huge rise in popularity over the last five or ten years. The first novel I read that used this POV was Speak but when I graduated and actually had time to read fictional books again, it seemed like every other YA novel used this POV.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of this POV but I really think that’s because I’m not used to it. When I do get hooked into a book using first person present, I find am more easily sucked in to the immediacy of the writing. I know dystopian future novels especially tend to use this (thank you, Hunger Games) but I actually find it more useful in some of the more politically-driven novels I read. I’m reading Crown of Embers by Rae Carson right now and scenes that are all politics and talk, which I usually find a little boring, are less distracting because I’m right there in the narrator’s head as various things are happening.

One of my favorite trilogies that uses this POV is the His Fair Assassin trilogy. Not only do I love the subject matter (daughters of Death in a historical fantasy wreaking havoc and justice as needed), but even in the discussions of the court and political maneuvering, the immediacy of first person present keeps things tense.

So, I guess first person present has that advantage where there isn’t as much room for the reader to be distracted by the story itself. In a way, everything that’s happening in the story “happens” as the reader reads it. The story is new every time. With past tense, there’s always this sense that the narrator is telling you their story after the fact–I find this is emphasized with first person.

I’m interested to see where the trend goes with this new POV. I have a feeling I’ll have to get used to it but, that probably won’t be so bad. When done well, first person present can be a thrilling ride even during the boring parts.

See you on Monday! I promise pictures for that post to liven things up a bit.

Author: JA Goodsell

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is INNATE, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @JAGoodsell or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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