Monday, October 19, 2015

Don't Fear the Reader: The Unreliable Narrator


Hello my happy haunts, we're getting closer and closer to Halloween. Have you picked out your Halloween costume yet? Today on the blog, we have guests posts from Kate at Ex Libris and Olivia at Fictionally Obsessed. 

They'll be sharing their opinions on unreliable narrators.Unreliable narrators definitely make things more interesting, but they can also make a story more confusing. So...

Unreliable narrators...yay or nay? 


Kate @ Ex Libris

There is nothing new about the idea of an unreliable narrator.  Literature is full of them.   They can be frustrating, right?  A part of me, though, really loves them.  It’s like you are being pulled into the same weird, wild adventure that the main character is going on, and they become that crazy friend that you want to believe, but aren’t sure you should believe.
Let’s look at the narrator of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, for instance.This book/movie always comes to mind when I think of unreliable narrators.  If they tell you that you can’t ever talk about something, things are probably going to get real weird, real quick.
 Since it’s October, though, I think we should hail the King of Unreliable Narrators in spooky stories.
That’s right, Edgar Allan Poe.
I mean, pretty much all of his characters have a wait and see attitude regarding reality, and if they aren’t telling us a story that seems…not quite right, they are telling the reader a story that another unreliable person told them.  I remember reading The Fall of the House of Usher and thinking this guy sure does talk about opium a lot. (Drug use is usually the first clue that the narrator might be a tad unreliable.)  But it worked!  Even if it wasn’t true, it was a good story and the not knowing part made it even better, in my opinion.   The thing is, without that sense of what is real and what isn’t being blurred, I don’t think Poe’s stories would have had as much punch to them.  So, when it comes to horror, thrillers, or scary stories in general, I love the unreliable narrator as a vehicle for making the reader feel like they can’t get a grip on reality.

See, even Voldy thinks it’s awesome.



I have sadly only read two short stories by Poe. Ugh, I need to remedy that!

Olivia @ Fictionally Obsessed
Fictionally Obsessed
Thanks so much to Amber for having me on her lovely blog!
My favourite POV to read in has always been third person, because it gives us so much more freedom to explore the story and the setting. My problem with reading in first person is that because we’re reading through a character, we get access to every single one of their thoughts. With third person, because we don’t directly hear the character say his/her thoughts, and it’s harder to come across an unreliable narrator, which is what I’ll be talking about today.
Looking back at all the narrator’s I’ve encountered, I would say that I haven’t encountered as many unreliable narrators. I’ve read a few short stories (such as Edgar Allan Poe's works) with narrators that were not completely credible due to the character’s mental state, but I haven’t read full-length novels with unreliable narrators. Although, I do have enough of an understanding to share some insight on the topic.
When I’m reading, I read for mainly the plot, and due to the fact that our narrator is unreliable (meaning that they’re insane and mentally unstable), romance will most likely not be a large aspect of the story. If we were reading from outside the unreliable protagonist in third person, it wouldn’t affect my opinions on whether I liked the story or not, I would be reading for the plot. But if the unreliable protagonist were to narrate the story, it would be a nay, simply because of the fact that I find it more difficult to comprehend what’s going on in the story due to how we have to filter through the thoughts. At the same time, it's a little creepy to read through a narrator who has an obsession over murdering someone.
Reading in first person perspective has never been my favourite, and I do suppose that has impacted why I’d rather not read through an unreliable narrator.
How do you feel about unreliable narrators?

Ooo a 3rd-person only kind of girl? I personally prefer the first person POV, probably because it's the most popular in the YA book scene right now!

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts with us today!


What are your thoughts on the unreliable narrator??

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