Unusual POVs: Falling into Place and Blackbird

Welcome to Compare and Contrast, a periodic blog feature in which I look at two books that share some kind of common theme, literary element, or characteristic. 

Today I'm looking at two upcoming YA books that experiment with narrative POV (point of view).  Maybe you're a reader who's really tuned-in to that kind of thing, and maybe you're a reader who doesn't really notice POV all that much as you absorb yourself in a story.  But I think just about every reader will see that there's some POV experimentation going on in these two books. 

Falling Into Place
by Amy Zhang
To be published by Greenwillow Books
on September 9, 2014

Source: e-ARC from publisher for review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?
My take:  Falling Into Place has a pretty "jumpy" narrative. Not only does it switch from third person POV to first person POV, from present tense to past tense, it also jumps around in time: during the crash, immediately after the crash, five months before the crash. There's an omniscient nsrrator who and can see and discuss what all different characters are doing or had done.

I'm not typically a fan of books with that much narrative jumping around, but Falling Into Place is one of those "puzzle piece" books -- like 13 Reasons Why -- in which each person/perspective/scene provides a piece of the puzzle. In the case of this story, the puzzle is why rich, popular Liz decided to try to kill herself.

While I enjoyed this book and did appreciate the narrative experimentation, I can't say the story had a huge emotional impact on me. I found Liz hard to relate to at first -- she's a girl who seems to have every possible advantage but only uses it to be mean and horrible. And for me, the "let's look at this situation from every possible angle" approach gave this story a sense of detachment that definitely rubbed off on me as a reader. The book was also philosophical in a way that felt a little depressing, with a sort of "futility of life" mentality. But the ending was unexpected, and I liked that.

If you're a reader who likes contemporary YA and enjoys books that experiment with storytelling techniques, definitely give this a try. It reminded me quite a bit of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, so if you're looking for a book that's similar, definitely give Falling Into Place a try.

Blackbird (Blackbird Duology #1)
by Anna Carey
To be published on September 16, 2014
by Harper Teen

Source: e-ARC from the publisher for review.

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: You wake up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on you. With only minutes to react, you hunch down and the train speeds over you. You don’t remember your name, where you are, or how you got there. You have a tattoo on the inside of your right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing you know for sure: people are trying to kill you.  On the run for your life, you try to untangle who you are and what happened to the person you used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than you ever imagined.

My take: Okay, I confess. I re-wrote that synopsis above in the second person. The second person a.k.a the "you" POV isn't one that I run into very often -- Bright Lights Big City is the example that comes to mind.  (There are a few "letter books," like Stolen by Lucy Christopher or We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt that use "you" as a narrator addresses a specific person, but it seems to me that those are a bit different.)

I thought second person worked for Bright Lights Big City and I think it works here -- possibly because in both books the main character is suffering some kind of amnesia (or frequent drug-induced blackouts) and often has limited comprehension of what's going on.

Even though I'm not generally a fan of amnesia books, there were things I enjoyed Blackbird. I felt that the suspense and sense of menace were handled really well. Once I found out what had actually happened to the main character, I was a bit more "eh" about the whole mystery element, which turned out to be

I also didn't realize that Blackbird was the first book of a duology, so I wasn't expecting an unresolved ending. Plus, like all the soapiest soap operas, this book uses amnesia as cover to set up a messy, love triangle-y romantic situation toward the end of the story. Sigh. But I did like the writing in this book, so I will tune in to the next installment to see how things turn out.


  1. Great reviews Jen and I love how you feature books under a trend topic. I'm also not a fan with those mixed povs and it really makes everything confusing.

    Happy Reading
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

  2. Interesting point of views. I haven't read much "you" narratives but once upon a time, I attempted to write a short story in this manner. And I tell you, it's not easy. I think it was inspired by Stolen, actually. Sometimes, the jigsaw puzzle type of timeline doesn't really work for me. It's too confusing for my simple mind.

  3. I like the narrative POV's, it feels like a special connection with the character cause it's like they are specifically telling you their story. It translate great on audio too :)
    I'm very curious about both of these.

  4. I have heard big differences on how people feel about blackbird. I was sent and plan to try to read it

  5. I am digging all the different points of view that have been coming out lately, you can only read so much first person POV but I can not, for the life of me, get in to second person. I ended up DNFing Blackbird because I couldn't stand the style.

  6. I have to say that I really loved Blackbird, but maybe that's because I'm a little in love with the second person POV (childhood thing). However, I'm really curious about Falling into place.
    Great reviews, Jen!

    Lis @ The reader lines

  7. I am currently reading Blackbird and I hate the POV it's really hindering my joy of reading..I am almost to the point of DNF but I don't want to so I am trying..I feel like I am in a choose your own adventure book without being able to choose..have you ever read those? You walk into a building. You look around and see a wolf. What do you do..if you run go to page 23 if you stay and fight go to page 40...lol That is how it feels to me. :)

  8. I haven't read either of these books. I like when an author sues a different POV like second person, and even more when they use it effectively and it matches the story. Awesome comparison, Jen!

  9. I loved Falling into Place! It was such a powerful read, and I do agree- the narrative structure made it that much more intriguing. I can't believe how young the author is as well! Quite ridiculous haha

  10. I'll probably skip Falling Into Place or maybe start it and just see what I think. I'm definitely going to give Blackbird a try and then we'll see. Love these, Jen!

  11. I have yet to read this book but I will have to give them both a try soon.

  12. I really hope Blackbird's sequel is much more illuminating, but like you I enjoyed it (maybe a bit more than you though.) ;)

  13. I avoid reading books with unusual POV as I tend to not like them, but I really want to give a try to Falling into place.


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