Here at Bookish, we love a good narrator. The right POV sucks us into the story and holds our hand until the very last page. But, as E. L. James knows, sometimes variety can be the spice of life. That’s why she has released Grey, a retelling of the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) first book in her bestselling erotica trilogy. This got us thinking: What other books might be fun to read from an alternate perspective? And who would we want to narrate them? Don’t get us wrong; we have no beef with the originals. If anything we just want more. Here, we list the books we’d be interested in giving the Grey treatment and the characters whose POVs we want to read.
The thrill of Agatha Christie’s closed-setting masterpiece is that the perspective (written in the first person) is constantly changing. With each new guest, the reader is looking for clues that reveal whether or not they could be the killer in disguise. But we’d personally love to read a version strictly from the killer’s point of view, with a slow and tantalizing reveal of who they are—just as in the original. Plus reading along as the killer ticks off victims one by one might help fill the void left in our lives now that Hannibal has been canceled.
There’s nothing wrong with Nick Carraway per se, but the book is called The Great Gatsby, after all. We think it might be fun to read the book from Jay Gatsby’s perspective instead, or James Gatz’s, as the case may be. Told this way, the story might be even more tragic: The reader would be hip to Gatsby’s tricks and deception from the beginning, and he or she would sense the profound emptiness of Gatsby’s life, despite all of the parties, much sooner. We might also get more insight into Gatsby’s love for Daisy, which is arguably the emotional heart of the entire book.
Richard Papen is a fine narrator, but there are so many questions and mysteries in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, that it might be gratifying to have an alternate version told by one of the other Classics majors. We vote for Camilla Macaulay. Camilla is central enough to the group to provide the reader with more access than Richard has to offer, and her highly unusual relationship with her twin Charles and then with Henry are fascinating, if under-explored aspects of the novel. She’s also the only woman in the cult-like group of Classics majors led by Julian Morrow, and her narration might add an interesting dimension of gender to this already staggeringly impressive novel.
Through Katniss Everdeen’s eyes we’ve seen the destruction wrought by the Capitol’s sick and dangerous games. We watched her go from a poor, starving girl living in District 12 to a national symbol of strength and resistance. But the world we saw very little of was the Capitol itself and we can think of no better guide than Miss Effie Trinket. Effie’s character development throughout the series is incredible to watch as she goes from being disgusted with her assignment at District 12 to recognizing her own privilege and realizing that the Hunger Games are barbaric. Realizing that everything you know is wrong and that you’re helping to perpetuate a dangerous and deadly scheme is not easy to come to terms with. Effie could’ve continued to ignore the truth, but the closer she becomes to Katniss and Peeta, the more horrified she becomes by their reality. We think her strength, character development, and journey to supporting Katniss would make for a captivating read.
One of the great joys of reading the Harry Potter series is encountering the Weasley family. More specifically, the Weasley twins, Fred and George. Their antics are one of the funniest parts of the series, and who better to give the reader more access to their hijinks than their close friend and fellow Gryffindor, Lee Jordan? No offense to Harry Potter, of course, but we also think it might be interesting to see Harry’s fame, as well as Voldemort’s grasps for power, from a more removed position. Things would get even more interesting in the later books because while Harry, Ron, and Hermione were wandering the countryside in search of Horcruxes, Lee was broadcasting news and updates of Voldemort’s reign on a pirate radio station. Plus, we’d still get some awesome Quidditch scenes, and we’d get to find out more about how he got that giant tarantula onto the Hogwarts Express.
Kathy H is an excellent narrator, who has received critical acclaim for her limited language and somewhat stunted ability to communicate with her reader. In Never Let Me Go, she is a clone being raised at a boarding school called Hailsham, to eventually have her organs harvested and face an early death. She has very little contact with the outside world, and her narration reflects that beautifully. But we think that Miss Lucy, the mysteriously disappearing teacher at Hailsham, would make for an excellent narrator, too. She could share her real views about raising the clones, and invoke a sense of outrage in the reader that children are being fed and raised like livestock only to be killed for parts a few years later. The book would lose its slow burn, but it might take on a fiery kind of urgency instead.
When we first meet Margot, she’s breaking up with her boyfriend Josh (who her sister Lara Jean secretly has a crush on) and preparing to fly to Scotland for college. What happens next? Well, that’s what we want to know! Margot is mature; she had to be after her mother’s death. But she’s still learning the ups and downs of life. We get small glimpses into her world: a moment when she regrets breaking up with Josh, and feelings of loneliness while abroad, but we want more. Seeing as this series was a duology, we think the lovely Jenny Han should consider extending it to the other Song sisters.
There is much debate over what, exactly, is going on in Pale Fire to begin with. But the consensus, for the most part, is that it is a 999-line poem called “Pale Fire” by John Shade (a deceased poet) with a forward and extensive notes narrated by a delusional scholar named Charles Kinbote who may or may not also be a king. Kinbote is reading things into Shade’s poem that arguably have no basis in fact, and the reader is left to wonder what John Shade would have to say about all of Kinbote’s commentary. Enter Pale Fire with Annotations by the Author, Shade’s opportunity to set the record straight about whether or not he meant to write about attempted regicide in the kingdom of Zembla. (And to the Shadeans: sorry. We know you think you’ve already got this book.)