How Do You Feel about Books with Multiple Narrators?

Book Blogger Hop

It’s Book Blogger Hop time, hosted by Billy over at Coffee Addicted Writer. This week’s question is actually the one that I submitted.

How do you feel about books with multiple narrators?

I intentionally left the question open to interpretation. You could take it to mean a story told from many perspectives, like How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon or Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Or you could take it to reference an audiobook told with multiple voice actors, like the recording of Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, or the full cast audio of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

I think some books (whether they be audio or print) are more effective with multiple narrators than others.

I love full cast recordings — Ender’s Game Alive is one of my favorite audio recordings, adapted from text to fit the full cast audio recording medium. I have a thing for old-time radio shows, and Ender’s Game turns those pages for me.

What I liked about Unwind‘s multiple narrators is that it provides opportunities to experience parts of the world I would have been cut off from had the story been told in first person with a single narrator.

But sometimes multiple narrators hinder my understanding of the story. This happens, more often than not, in audiobooks where the voices are hard to distinguish from one another. Or, like in the case of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, the typography makes it difficult to distinguish between characters’ narration. Now, I love Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but I do find that when I recommend it to a student, we have to sit down and look at the difference in typography before they start so they understand where the narrators change.

All in all, stories with multiple narrators are a win for me.  What about you?




  1. I hadn’t thought about it from the audiobook perspective. I’ve only come across one with multiple narrators (Six of Crows) and it was brilliant! In physical book form, I think it builds an extra layer onto the story. Hope your weekend goes well! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also didn’t think of the audiobook interpretation. I don’t listen to as many audiobooks anymore and I don’t recall listening to any with multiple narrators. I have listened to an audiobook with one voice narrator but the story itself had multiple narrators. Somehow, the narrator pulled it off and did a wonderful job at providing distinct voices for each narrator. If only I could remember the title of the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very interesting question, Eli! So thanks for submitting it, and sharing such an equally interesting answer!

    You know, I never thought of audiobooks and full-cast narrating. But I agree with you — I much prefer different voice actors in audiobooks, rather than a single one.

    Where regular books are concerned, though, I have a problem with writers who don’t know how to give their multiple narrators their own distinct personalities. In such cases, this writing technique can actually hinder, rather than enhance, the story, as readers will tend to get confused, and not know which of the narrators is speaking at any given point in the story.

    Having never read “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”, I was not aware that there was actually a change in typography when different narrators were telling the story. And the typography is actually pretty similar? Well, the editor should have fixed that before the book was published! The next time I go to Barnes & Noble, I’ll see if they have this book on the shelves so I can see for myself what you’re talking about.

    GREAT question and GREAT answer!! Thanks for sharing!! Have an AWESOME week ahead!! 🙂


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