POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Category Archives: Book Rankings

The 10 Most Loved First Person Novels from Spring 2015

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you are interested in first person narration as a means of telling a story in fiction. Clearly, since I have an entire book review blog devoted to the first person point of view, I do as well. But, let’s face it–not all first person novels are created equal. There is more to a story than the way it’s told.

What you are really interested in reading, then, aren’t first person novels in and of themselves; you’re interested in the reading the best novels written in the first person point of view. What follows is the first in what I hope to be many seasonal recaps of the most admired first person novels in publication. So, how do I go about determining which are the “best” or “most admired?” Of all the books I review, how do I decide what makes the list? Well, I’m glad you asked…

Book Rating Methodology

So, to begin with, the books on this list aren’t necessarily my personal favorites. Some of the books that I found rather inspiring made the list, and some of the books I most appreciated didn’t quite cut it. Why? Because I’m not writing this for myself–I’m writing it for you, the reader. For the purpose of this blog, it isn’t important which books I enjoyed. My purpose is to create a list of novels you will likely enjoy.

Now, wait a second–how on earth would I know whether or not you would appreciate a novel? Well, I don’t. But, to venture a pretty reasonable guess, I’ve gone with the wisdom of the crowds. Popular opinion has proved to be a more accurate gauge of satisfaction than expert opinion. For example, Psychologist Daniel Gilbert and his fellow researchers found that satisfaction increased by 50% in speed dating when participants in a study were asked to predict their satisfaction using average ratings versus a photograph and bio. As much as we would all think we’re unique and special in our levels of discernment, the greatest way to predict our preferences is to look at how other people feel on average about the subject in consideration. I’m applying this principle to rating books.

So, here’s what I do. After at least 30 days from publication, I measure each book’s star ratings on Amazon.com. I then divide the average number of stars received by each book by 5 to get a percentage. If a book doesn’t have at least 30 reviews by the time I tally them up, I don’t consider it. The books with the ten highest percentages win.

Is it a perfect system? No. But it’s better than simply assuming you’ll like the books because I do. Skeptical that this methodology will work? Put it to the test: read something on the list…

Spring 2015 Top 10 Novels Written in the First Person

The ten best first person novels published from January through April of 2015–based on Amazon.com reader reviews.

#1) Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Category: General Fiction
Quality Rating: 96.67%
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
What It’s About: A young girl is abruptly taken by her father to live alone with him in the woods, left with the impression that a natural disaster has destroyed the rest of the world.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

This is a very quick, dark, and heart-wrenching read. Fuller’s prose is absolutely exquisite.

I was impressed by the writing style. The way the author dropped subtle hints that sparked the imagination without actually detailing what was occurring, was cleverly done.

Fuller’s descriptions of the forest are vivid and she lets her characters show themselves through small and big actions that bring them fully to life.

#2) Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Category: Science Fiction and Fantasy
Quality Rating: 90.85%
Saint Odd by Dean Koontz
What It’s About: A young man who possesses the supernatural ability of seeing ghosts returns to his hometown as he senses something sinister is about to happen.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

This book is like a great meal. It needs to be savored and enjoyed. Not just taken down quickly. It may honestly be the greatest in the series, and potentially one of the highlights from the portfolio of work from Koontz.

This is an epic tale of good and evil, and throughout the book brings us back to places and people familiar to us.

All in all, SAINT ODD is an outstanding work, a fitting cap to this wonderful, endearing series. Of all the books written by this master author, this book might just be one of his best.

#3) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Category: Young Adult
Quality Rating: 88%
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
What It’s About: A red-blooded teenage girl is taken in by the royal family of “Silvers,” the superior ruling class that possesses superhuman abilities, and she soon discovers that she possesses special abilities of her own.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

Red Queen is a fast paced, breathless kind of read. A true edge-of-your-seat story. Intrigue filled, action packed, twisty and highly dramatic, it’s a real page turner. Impossible to put down.

With it’s thickened plot and revealed secrets, RED QUEEN was devastatingly wonderful to watch, as it unfolded into a disarray of deception and betrayals that shattered an explosive web of blood and murder, as it painted the way for the evil power that ruled this blood defined world, and brought it to it’s knees.

All the key characters were very well developed and even the villains were complex.

#4) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Category: Young Adult
Quality Rating: 87.98
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
What It’s About: As a graduate of the ruling class’s military academy seeks to avoid his cruel destiny, a slave girl seeks to infiltrate the academy in order to free her brother.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

I love the world building of An Ember In The Ashes; it is rich and full without being overcomplicated. The Trials remind me of Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And the relationship between Elias and Laia is not “oh my God, where have you been all my life, I love you forever.” It is more risky and nuanced.

Sabaa Tahir knows how to weave a good story, furnished with plenty of action and unexpected twists. My emotions went through the wringer as I read it.

This book is AMAZING. The hype is worth it. It’s brutal and brilliant, with a lot of twists and turns, constantly surprising you. It’s great, not just as YA fantasy, but as strictly high fantasy — wonderful world building (Ancient Rome with a Middle Eastern flair), a detailed hierarchy, supernatural elements (Jinn, ghuls, and a mystical class of oracles), the Masks themselves. Once it gets a hold of you, it doesn’t let go. Fantastic.

#5) The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Category: General Fiction
Quality Rating: 86.95%
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
What It’s About: As the man she’s always loved walks across the country to see her, an aging woman in hospice care writes him a letter revealing a deep, dark secret.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

Rachel Joyce has a rare talent. She spins a wonderful story, in simple language, but beneath that she explores a whole range of philosophical issues with honesty and compassion. Truth, trust, love, integrity, loss, responsibility, lives used, lives wastedthis is, without doubt, one of the best books I’ve read and one I’ll recommend without hesitation.

If you enjoyed Harold Frye, you will appreciate this story. But, even if you didn’t read Joyce’s other book, I would still recommend this one to you if you’re in the mood for a moving and beautiful story about broken individuals striving for connection and love in the world.

The subject is a sad one but I found it heart-warming and a beautiful capture of end of life. The prose is also wonderful.

#6) The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Category: Historical Fiction
Quality Rating: 86.22%
The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
What It’s About: A single woman who runs a bookstore with her best friend begins to have recurring dreams about an alternate life in which she is married with children.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

The Bookseller: A Novel is one of those rare books that has keeps you eagerly reading to the very end.

This book was a page turner. Kitty is a sympathetic (if not perfect) character, and she has puzzles enough in *both* timelines to keep me flipping to find out her solutions. Pacing and character development were solid, and the story was well-grounded in its time period. She not only reflected the period musically, artistically and stylistically, but philosophically. It’s a particularly artistic touch that this woman’s story – exploring the crux of identity – is set at a period where the identity of women was being rapidly redefined. It’s an understated detail, but one that makes Kitty’s story all the more resonant.

This engrossing and provocative novel impels us to recall Frost’s poem about the road not taken. How do we make the big choices that will change our lives? If we could rewrite history, would we? What role does destiny or luck play in who we become? In addition, the author takes us back to the cultural landscape of the sixties: She integrates the politics, culture, and social issues of the time into her imaginative plot.

#7) Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Category: Mystery and Suspense
Quality Rating: 85.6%
Little Black Lies by Sandra Block
What It’s About: A psychiatrist seeks to understand the meaning behind recurring, vivid nightmares that she’s begun having again after returning to her hometown.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

It was a good read. A good page turner. Written in an engaging, easy to read manner. The medical and psychological information included as part of the story set it apart from other mystery books.

Little Black Lies is a great read! Sandra Block’s humor alone, which comes through the main characters thoughts and words, will keep you engaged.

This is a great read for anyone who loves fast paced and completely engrossing psychological thrillers. There are many dark twists and some unexpected turns, I honestly did not see the twist coming so I was blown away! It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel; it’s beautifully crafted and expertly written. Sandra Block does have a medical background and it’s clearly evident. The inner workings of the hospital and its psychiatric ward along with its cast of doctors and patients ring absolutely true and make this story that much more believable.

#8) Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

Publication Date: January 2, 2015
Category: General Fiction
Quality Rating: 85.15%
Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski
What It’s About: A man goes on the run after being accused of killing a police officer who was actually killed by the friends who turned him in.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

Watch Me Go is a book about sadness. When your last lent chips are on the table and your escape plan is only a delaying of consequences. Mark Wisniewski does an incredible job of crafting these characters around a false hope whether it be with Jan who thinks she has it all figured out but is kidding herself and forcing her perspective on the situation, or Deesh, the one who realizes he has no shot but tries anyway.

This fast-paced novel has undercurrents, like all of Wisniewski’s work, of compelling ideas that we’ll think about, and return to ponder, long after we’ve put this fine novel down. If we’ve never thought about racetrack life, we will now. If we’ve never thought about being an innocent man on the run from the law, taking refuge where we can, we will now. This is a suspenseful novel that delivers what it promises from page one to the end.

Perhaps the story is a bit more “literary” than many books, but to me the style and methods make it that much more exciting—because one truly does not know what to expect and is genuinely shocked by events as the pages rapidly are turned. It is emotionally absorbing–I actually yelled out loud in shock at a few events.

#9) Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Category: Mystery and Suspense
Quality Rating: 84.2%
Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
What It’s About: A woman recovering from a mental breakdown following a miscarriage becomes the reporter responsible for uncovering the secret behind the body of an infant found dead on the edge of a college campus.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

Most books have a definite peak in the storyline. Where I thought this book peaked, was only a blip on the map. Up until the last pages, the reader continues to be dealt final blows and final twists.

Where They Found Her is well planned out, the storylines are probable and the numerous characters tend to hit all the major emotions for the reader from compassion to utter disdain and they mystery surrounding the infant is quite intriguing. I truly enjoyed the book and think others who enjoy psychological thrillers and buried secrets come to light will enjoy Where They Found Her.

The author expertly wove the various story lines together using a variety of written works, including an old journal, a newer journal, online newspaper articles, and first and third person narratives. It didn’t take very long to understand the reason for the various sources as they started forming a single story. It was kind of like seeing a painting being painted from the outer edges in toward the middle.

#10) Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Category: Science Fiction and Fantasy
Quality Rating: 83.26%
Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
What It’s About: A woman travels to Princeton on a music scholarship and becomes the instant obsession of a mysteriously alluring man, all the while discovering a dark secret about her dead sister who had attended Princeton years ago.
Why People Loved It: Excerpts from most helpful Amazon.com reader reviews

Zourkova gives fabulous descriptions of her native Bulgaria without spending long periods of time there. She introduces and explains her countries folklore and the stunning differences to our own. She then seamlessly weaves them into a tale in America in a way that makes the reader why they hadn’t looked at these things before. It’s truly engrossing.

The story is elevated by the use of poetry, music and mythology, making it an especially intelligent and engaging read.

Among the many things that I loved about this novel was the way in which Zourkova interweaves Greek and Bulgarian myth, finding the commonalities between the two and creating her own, unique brand of myth. It was wild and harsh and carried the story through its entirety.