In a story, the narrator can either be nonparticipant (which would be the case in third and second person) or participant (which would be the case for first person). A nonparticipant narrator does not take part in the story and the participant narrator is an actual character in the story.
I hate it when there is more than one perspective in the story. There is nothing worse than reading a book and each chapter is being shown by a different character than the one before it. I think this technique usually distances the reader from the characters to where you simply can’t relate to any of them because you don’t get a very good insight on any one character but instead you get little tidbits (I love this word) on each character. There are a few exceptions though like The Lord of the Rings and The Bartimaeus Trilogy. But, of course, the big difference between these two series is that The Lord of the Rings is written in third person and The Bartimaeus Trilogy is written partially in first person and partially in third person. Although, in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, I really only liked to read the chapters in which Bartimaeus narrated and that made the other parts seem awfully dull.
Generally, I like it when there is only one narrator and/or perspective. It gives you a one on one, up close and personal look at just one character and, if done right, you start to feel like you’re the only one who really understands him or her.
Take Harry Potter for example. This is the best example of almost perfect narration I can think of. It’s in the third person, which can be tricky, but J.K. Rowling writes in such a way that you feel that you know Harry better than anyone else. The reader can relate to him, understand him, feel what he’s feeling and see what he’s seeing. That’s how it should be done. Some other books that are written in the third person that I like are The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Pride and Prejudice.
I like how third person can be kind of mysterious and intriguing sometimes.
But then take The Maze Runner. It’s written in third person and has only one perspective but the reader simply cannot relate to the main character (I can’t even remember his name) because it’s just not written in a way that you can really relate to him. I think that third person narration is the best if it’s done right but it rarely is.
First person, to me, is, by far, the easiest of all of them. It’s simple, direct, allows sarcasm and humor that third person can't usually bring. Some books are just meant to be written in first person. Take The Catcher in the Rye, for example. It simply would not be The Catcher in the Rye if it were written in third or second person. Holden Caulfield is the only one who can truly explain how he feels about certain things, if someone else tried to explain it, it wouldn't be the same. Some books like that are written in third person are Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Paper Towns. One of the most famous books written in first-person was Moby Dick and I love how the narrator isn’t who the story is about but Ishmael describes the story of Captain Ahab and the whale. Writing in first-person allows the writer to be creative.
Second-person is a hard narrative point of view to master and it is not typically used. Stories that are written in second-person use the pronoun “you.” Choose Your Own Adventure novels are a common of example this tricky narrative mode. If done the right way, a story that uses this style could be really interesting but it could also be disastrous. The narrative mode that you use can make or break your story.
I think out of all of these, stories written in the first person with one narrator are usually the best because it's easier for the author to master but, when done correctly, third person can be the superior narrative point of view. The characters are just more down to earth and relatable and it leaves a lot of room for humor. But it’s good to experiment with all kinds of narrations until you stumble across the one that you’re best at and/or is best for your story.
Which narrative mode do you like best? Do you like hearing from one character? Or two? Or three? Or fifty-seven?