Finishing Dearly, Departed and reading some reviews has got me thinking about multiple PoVs. I've always liked them. Some books I've loved over the past 2 years (Shiver, Across the Universe, Sisters Red) switched the point of view back and forth between 2 characters and I find it adds depth, particularly with a romance, to know what both characters are thinking and feeling and not to have to depend on one person's view. The author has to keep the story moving, so we're not reading the same event twice all the time, but other than that, I think it works.
Things get trickier when the PoVs spread to 3 or more. On the one hand, it is nice to get to know so many characters, especially as there are some who you suspect have much more going on underneath than they let show. With Mockinjay, I would've paid Suzanne Collins all I earn if she would have let us see what Gale was thinking or given us a way to check in with Cinna.
However, I've heard some claim that multiple PoVs like this are lazy; that they are employed when an author can't think of an original way to get across important information. If your villain has a nefarious plot you want the reader to know about, but there's no good reason for him to tell anyone about it, just give him his own PoV chapter and voila! The reader can learn his private thoughts. I've also heard the opinion that constantly rotating the PoVs slows the plot down, as the reader has to leave characters at key moments, move through several other characters, then try and recall where the original characters were.
I understand why an author would find multiple PoVs necessary if he/she is telling a huge, epic story. A Game of Thrones takes place with the characters at several locations and spans many years. George R. R. Martin has built an intricate world which he wants his readers to know every part of, and what better way, than by giving us first-person accounts of what this world is like from many characters; who are different ages, from different families and hold different positions in society?
However, with so many characters and plot threads, the odds are you won't enjoy every one equally. Reading A Game of Thrones, I tended to be more excited when I saw the next chapter was a Daenerys or Sansa PoV, than when it was Jon's or Bram's. A similar thing happened with Dearly, Departed. Other than the main story of Nora and Bram, I was much more interested in Pamela's adventures than I was in those of Victor or Wolfe.
I think, like so many things, it all comes down to how skilful the author is at handling it. If every PoV is written well, gives the characters each their own distinctive voice, moves the story forward and gives the reader important insights, then I'm all for having many. However, the more there are, the harder it is to maintain this standard and perhaps, this is an area where numbers should be kept down.
What do you think?