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She's Got Game*

Viewpoint Jarring, Telling Not Showing

I have been reading some books lately that did an outstanding job of deep first- or third-person viewpoint. This particular book is written in the first-person. I’m not really a fan of first-person perspective because I actually think it is distancing and prone to navel-gazing prose; I don’t like that it does really narrow what we see happening in a story. Personally, I don’t find it to be intimate, which is what I think authors are going for. Because I had just read some well-done first-person deep-viewpoint novels, I found this book jarring because the author didn’t quite manage the viewpoint as well as the others; she told more than showed. At times, it felt like the main character was outside of her body viewing herself. To give a brief example, here is one phrase from the book: “My expression softened.” Now, others can see a person’s expression softening, but the person herself cannot see this. I would rather have had the author show us how the character experienced this within her own body and/or mind. Did her jaw unclench? Did her cheeks go slack? Did she let go of a breath she had been holding? This is just one such example, but it happens all throughout the book and is distracting and distancing. I thought this book had a fun premise, but I would have enjoyed it more if it was either written in the third person or the author had taken us deeper into the mind of the gamer.